If you have a persistent headache, sometimes sleeping it off can be the best option. But what if you’re waking up with headaches?
Headaches and migraines are complex, and often determining their cause can be challenging or even impossible. But the relationship between sleep and headaches can sometimes help locate the root of the problem. If you find that you commonly wake up with a headache, here are some possible reasons why.
You May Have a Sleep Disorder
If you wake up with a headache, there’s a high probability that you have sleep apnea. While that might seem like an extreme statement, it’s based in statistical fact: Researchers estimate that half of people who wake up with headache pain are suffering from mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder in which the airway partially collapses during sleep, preventing breathing. People with sleep apnea may stop breathing as often as hundreds of times over the course of the night. This can lead to immediate negative effects, such as snoring, waking feeling unrested, daytime drowsiness, and difficulty focusing. But it can also lead to more dangerous, long-term effects, such as increased risk of heart failure and stroke.
If you frequently wake up with a headache already troubling you, you should schedule a sleep test with your doctor. If you do have sleep apnea, your dentist can help by creating a custom orthotic appliance (like a mouthguard) to wear while you sleep.
You May Be Grinding Your Teeth
If you clench or grind your teeth while asleep, a condition known as bruxism, the pressure and tension this causes could result in headaches. Although bruxism can simply be a result of stress, it could also be a sign of something more dangerous, like TMJ.
There are other signs that you may be experiencing sleep bruxism as well. For example, if you wake up with jaw or tooth soreness, or if you notice wear or chipping on your teeth. If you think you may be clenching or grinding your teeth at night, you should speak to your dentist about solutions. You may be experiencing bruxism due to malocclusion, or a “bad bite.” A dentist can correct your bite through orthodontics or dental reconstructive surgery, eliminating the unpleasant side effects of malocclusion and preventing any further damage to your teeth and jaw.
There May Be Other Links
Migraines are complicated, and sleep is complicated, so there are plenty of ways that these two experiences can interact. For example, many children who suffer from migraines also suffer from sleep disorders like night terrors and sleepwalking. And cluster headaches have been linked with REM sleep, and can be triggered by sleeping late.
If you think your sleeping patterns or habits might be linked to your migraines or headaches, the best thing to do is consult with your doctor. If you do suffer from sleep apnea or sleep bruxism, your dentist can help.