The most common sleep problems that are associated with headaches are sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, and insomnia. In fact, 90% of people with sleep apnea reported to stop having morning headaches after starting CPAP therapy.
Patients who suffer from sleep apnea have partially or completely blocked airways during sleep. In result, this closure reduces the amount of oxygen that gets transported to the brain. This reduction of oxygen is what causes vascular headaches. Vascular headaches are usually located in the frontal areas but can also involve the entire head.
Another effect of sleep apnea is the inability to get enough REM sleep. This is the deepest stage of sleep. Not getting enough REM sleep can trigger migraines due to the neurotransmitter or chemical system in the brain along with hormonal influences. Headaches linked to the REM cycle are called cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are usually on one side of the head and accompanied by nasal stuffiness and teary eyes.
Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep) is another sleep disorder that leads to headaches. Insomnia leads to irritability and ultimately stress, which is the most common migraine trigger.
The unfortunate connection between sleep apnea and frequent headaches is gradual brain damage. In order to prevent hypertension, depression, or stroke, it is best to treat these headaches and/or sleep apnea. If you are someone who experiences frequent headaches, do not hesitate to contact CanSleep Services to get tested for sleep apnea.