People living with migraine are between 2 and 8 times more likely to experience sleep disorders, compared with the general public. Those living with chronic migraine—which includes experiencing headache 15 or more days per month—report having almost twice the rates of insomnia as those with less frequent headaches. These higher-than-normal rates are due to migraine comorbidities and some migraine lifestyle factors that make good sleep harder to achieve. 

  • Sleep loss and oversleeping are common headache triggers.
  • Regular, adequate sleep leads to fewer headaches.
  • Common sleep disorders include: insomnia, sleep apnea, teeth grinding.
  • Headaches that are linked to sleep include: wake-up headache and hypnic headache.

How to reduce sleep-related headaches?

1. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep.

The best temperature for sleep is a cool, low- to mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything colder than that, and you could induce a tension headache. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and clear of clutter. This will prevent noisy or visual distractions that can induce stress and anxiety.

2. Choose comfortable bedding and mattress.

If you suffer from tension headaches, the solution can be as simple as getting a better pillow so you don’t strain your neck while you sleep. Side sleepers should be sure to get one with a proper height to keep their neck and spine aligned while asleep.

3. Get better sleep, consistently.

Too much or too little sleep are common headache triggers. Reduce headaches caused by sleep deprivation by getting sufficient, quality sleep on a regular basis. Set aside enough time for you to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

4. Address your snoring.

Treating snoring or sleep apnea can eliminate headaches. Invest in anti-snoring chinstraps, mouthpieces, or pillows. If you think you have something more serious, like sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. 

5. Avoid headache-triggering substances.

Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine all interfere with sleep. Alcohol also causes dehydration, another risk factor for headaches, and daily caffeine consumption has been linked with chronic headaches.

6. Keep a sleep and headache diary.

This will aid your doctor in diagnosing the cause of your headache and related sleep issues, as well as inform their treatment plan. Note when you have headaches, the intensity and location of the pain, and any other symptoms. Note when you go to bed, when you wake up, your total sleep time, and any sleep issues (such as reports of snoring from your partner or waking during the night).

7. Seek out alternative therapies.

If you suffer from depression or anxiety in addition to insomnia, it’s worth noting that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown to be an extremely effective treatment.  

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