July 3, 2020

Headaches & Sleep

The relationship between sleep and headaches is undeniably related. A migraine can both be caused by and relieved by sleep. Which can get a bit confusing. However, once you understand the relationship a bit better, you can use good sleeping habits to keep your migraines at bay. Keep reading to learn about some of the migraines that are specifically related to sleep and healthy sleeping habits that can help you to avoid migraines.

sleeping and headaches

The Connection Between Headaches & Sleep:

Sleep it is vital for our bodies and minds to properly function. During REM sleep, our bodies work to heal and recover strength in the body as well as go through many processes in order to keep the body and mind working properly. During the deep sleep, your mind processes memories into long term memory, as well as maintain our metabolism and immune systems. While it is rest for our conscious mind and body, it is a very busy and important time for our brain.

If we deprive our body the rest that is needed, or not entering a deep REM sleep due to disruptions (like chronic snoring) it can be very disruptive to many of our usual functions. When things get out of balance headaches often occur.

There are also a number of different side effects of sleep that can trigger headaches like teeth grinding, sleep apnea, and even low blood sugar. But we will get into those more next.

Nighttime Headache & Migraine Triggers

Blue Light Exposure/Eye Strain

blue light causing migraines From our computers for work, computers at home, smart phones, TVs, tablets, e-books, and so much more there are loads of different blue light emitting screens in our modern lives. The mass majority of the day is spent looking at a screen.

Which is a terrible strain on our eyes as well as sleeping habits. Blue light can effect your bodies natural circadian rhythm, which can make it very difficult to get to sleep. While extended screen time can also cause eye strain and of course, migraines. No fun.

Sleep Apnea

snoring and sleep apnia headaches A little talked about side effect caused by sleep apnea is a morning headache. Often, if you are suffering from sleep apnea, you will wake up with painful pressure on both sides of your head.

This sleep apnea headache typically goes away after an hour of being awake and breathing normally. This is often a symptom that can help those who are unaware they are snoring that they have sleep apnea.

Nocturnal High Blood Pressure

blood pressure high at night causing headaches For some, blood pressure will increase while they sleep. Since you are sleeping, it can often go unnoticed for the most part. However, high blood pressure often causes headaches and even migraines.

If you are unsure whether this may be contributing to your headaches, there are contraptions that can be worn in order to track your blood pressure throughout the night to see if you do indeed have nocturnal high blood pressure.

Teeth Grinding

jaw headaches clenched at night A common and low level destructive nightly habit that can be difficult to break, teeth grinding. Often doctors claim that teeth grinding is due to stress although since it is happening during the night, it can be difficult to control.

The pressure of your jaw clenching your teeth together is enough to give you chronic headaches in the mornings.

Low Blood Sugar

blood sugar issues and headaches Since we do not eat while we sleep, we often wake up hungry. For those with diabetes or are just sensitive to changes in blood sugar may find that they wake up with low blood sugar. This can lead to either waking up with a severe headache, or getting a headache if you do not get breakfast quickly after waking up.

A glass of juice is a quick and easy way to get your blood sugar up easily. This is especially helpful if you are having to wait for breakfast or while you are cooking in the mornings.

Medication Withdrawal

pills and medication withdrawals This is often for medications like pain relievers. Some medications can cause withdrawal symptoms, often headaches go along with these symptoms. At night if you are able to sleep throughout the night without having to take pain medication after taking it all day, this may lead to withdrawal symptoms.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, we highly recommend talking to your doctor to see if there is a different route you can take for your medication. (Continue taking your medication as prescribed until you speak to your doctor)


caffeine headaches A common trigger for headaches and migraines is caffeine intake. The trouble is that a headache can be triggered by either having too much caffeine or too little. Caffeine also is a tool we use to wake up, although if you are struggling with a headache in the evening that you try to patch up with a bit of caffeine, it could make it difficult to get to sleep later.

Caffeine can stay active in your system for up to 6 hours. The best way to deal with caffeine triggered headaches is to stay on a strict schedule of when you have caffeine and how much you have.

Lack of Sleep Can Cause a Migraine:

headaches making it difficult to sleep If you are struggling to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep per 24 hour period, you may find that you get headaches from lack of sleep.

Unfortunately with headaches and lack of sleep, it can be a double edges sword. On one hand, lack of sleep can trigger a headache or migraine.

While the pain of a headache or migraine can make it even more difficult to get to sleep.

Sleep Tips That Can Help With Migraines

Having healthy sleep habits can greatly improve your chances for experiencing less headaches. A consistent sleep schedule along with integrating a few extra nightly habits will help keep your headaches away.

Stay on Schedule

clock on bedMaintaining a healthy sleep schedule that is consistent sleep schedule is the best way to ensure you get the right amount of sleep per night. If you are not going to sleep and waking up consistently at the same time ever day, it can throw off your schedule.

If you sleep in and miss your morning coffee that can trigger a migraine. Or simply not getting the amount of sleep you’re used to can also trigger a headache. Which is why we suggest staying on a consistent sleep schedule.

Looking to set a sleep schedule? Then you will love our post: How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule

Be Mindful of What You Eat & Drink

watch what you eat and drink Different drinks and foods can trigger migraines for different people. Whenever you get a migraine, keep track of what you had to eat and drink, whether you have had caffeine or not, if you have had enough water to drink and so on.

This will help you to know what your personal triggers may be and how to avoid them.

You May Also Like: Best And Worst Foods Before Bed

Wear Blue Light Glasses

blue light glasses help prevent headaches Our modern world is surrounded by blue light. Our smart phones, laptops, TV screens, and tablets all emit blue light which each cause a lot of strain to our eyes. Spending hours in front of a screen can also make it difficult to get to sleep at night.

Unfortunately, with work and life often involves spending loads of time in front of screens it can be difficult to cut out screen time. Which is where blue light glasses can help. Blue light glasses limit the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes.

Wear A Mouth Guard

mouth guard If you are experiencing morning headaches from teeth grinding, wearing a mouth guard at night can help immensely. A mouth guard helps to keep you from clenching your teeth throughout the night.

Which will keep the tension out of your jaw. This will help you from getting a migraine. It also helps to keep from damaging your teeth as well.

Take Naps

headaches and sleep naps can help ease a migraine If you find that a migraine is about to hit, stop what you’re doing and take a nap.

This does not work for everyone, however for many a nap can often keep a migraine at bay and can even prevent a migraine from ramping up to full strength. While some migraines will not be effected by this tactic, many common migraines can be kept at bay with a solid nap.

Headaches & Sleep – Final Thoughts:

Getting enough sleep can help keep headaches away, and naps can help ease the pain of headaches and migraines. Our tips and tricks should help keep headaches away so you can also get a great nights sleep. Headaches and sleep often go hand in hand. We hope that these tips help you to avoid any headaches and migraines so you can stay comfortable and sleep well.

sleeping and headaches