The Link Between Headaches and Sleep Loss

It’s hard to understate the importance of a good night’s rest. Your body uses this time to renew and repair itself. 

If head pain is plaguing you throughout the night, your body is deprived of this critical restorative time. Making matters more complicated, your head pain may stem from a sleep disorder or your headaches may prevent you from sleeping. 

Whatever the underlying cause of your head pain and loss of sleep, our team here at Pain Medicine Consultants is here to help.

In the following, we explore the connection between headaches and loss of sleep and how you can find both relief and rest.

Sleep disorders and headaches

Between 50 and 70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder, which includes insomnia, sleep apnea, and bruxism (teeth grinding). In each of these cases, your body is likely not getting the restorative sleep it needs, which can trigger headaches.

For example, when you have obstructive sleep apnea, your airways collapse throughout the night and your body wakes itself each time. As a result, many who have sleep apnea suffer from daytime headaches and fatigue.

As another example, if you grind your teeth during the night, you place extreme pressure on the temporomandibular joints on either side of your mouth. This affects the surrounding muscles, which can lead to both facial and head pain.

Nighttime head pain that leads to loss of sleep

Reversing the problem, there are headaches that can attack during the night, causing you to lose sleep. Migraines, in particular, are known for their ability to cause head pain while you sleep, leading to wake-up headaches. 

Migraines often strike in the early morning hours, which may be long after your medications wear off and which is why the pain is often severe enough to rouse you.

And cluster headaches can attack during the night, preventing you from sleeping.

There’s also a rare disorder called hypnic headaches, which are headaches that only strike at night. These headaches, which are also called “alarm clock headaches,” can last anywhere from 15 minutes to four hours. They’re nearly impossible to sleep through due to the moderate to severe pain.

Finding solutions for both head pain and sleep disorders

If you’re struggling with head pain and loss of sleep, our first step is to run a comprehensive evaluation of your health to determine the underlying cause of the pain. 

If migraines are leading to loss of sleep, we can turn to over-the-counter or prescription medications to control the pain, as well as Botox® injections to reduce the frequency of your migraines.

Cluster headaches are more difficult, as they tend to come in waves and then go into remission. Still, we do offer medications that you can take when the head pain develops.

If we find that a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, is causing your headaches, we point you in the right direction to remedy the problem with a CPAP machine or oral device. If bruxism is causing head pain, a simple nighttime mouthguard usually brings relief.

Outside of these treatments, certain lifestyle changes can go a long way toward relieving both your headaches and your sleep issues. 

For example, relaxation techniques can do wonders for both problems (sleep disorders and headaches), and we’re happy to supply you with a list of exercises that help relieve tension and stress.

If you’re suffering from head pain and lack of sleep, the first step is to contact one of our locations in Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, and Corte Madera, California, to set up an appointment.

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