Sleep Disorders and Headaches

There is a profound connection between sleep and headaches. They both derive from the most primitive animalistic part of the brain. Headaches are symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disorders, and the pain from headache can disrupt sleep. Sleep disorders and headaches are often co-morbid and share anatomy and physiology and their treatment is often intertwined.

Morning headache – waking up with a headache – is an unwelcome start to the day for many. Morning headaches are not proof of sleep disorders but addressing sleep disorders often makes the headaches fade away. Migraine headaches are more common in people with sleep disorders, and the frequency of the migraines tends to decline when sleep disorders are cleared up. Only 5% of people with brain tumors have morning headaches

Snoring and apnea are associated with headahce. A study from Turkey reports much higher rates of morning headaches among apnea sufferers, but found 90% of those who had headaches found relief if they used CPAP machines.

The most common type of headaches are tension headaches.. Do sleep troubles aggravate tension-type headache?: Japanese researchers found that they do although the question is too broad. Doctors should look deeper into the specific sleep disorder, as headaches are too common a symptom to be of much use in establishing a definitive treatment.

Doctors faced with recalcitrant headache cases are advised to look at sleep factors when considering what triggers headaches. The triggers for headaches are so variable thatit is not possible to enumerate possible factors (which could be a range of things related to sleep hygiene and co-morbid conditions.)

The rare forms of headache chronic paroxysmal hemicrania and cluster headaches are related to REM .Cluster headache attacks can start while the patient is asleep, usually during REM sleep. Chronic paroxysmal hemicrania is sometimes called "REM sleep-locked headache". Both migraine and cluster headaches can occur during sleep.

Sleep and trigeminal pain processing share several common pathways according to German researchers. Trigeminal neuralgia is the chronic pain condition in the face – or more specifically the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. A recent German study suggests that the hypothalamus area of the brain is involved in both headache and sleeo and that the neurone there are "probably the anatomic and physiological link between headache and sleep." According to the Nevada Headache Institute, an area of interest to researchers looking for headache treatments is orexin antagonists. This class of drug is also of interest to scientists looking for treatments for insomnia.

Related:

The impact of headache and chronic musculoskeletal complaints on the risk of insomnia: longitudinal data from the Nord-Trøndelag health study.

 

 

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