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What Causes Migraines While Sleeping

What Are The Treatments For Migraine

Sleep Apnea: Migraines/Headaches

There is no absolute cure for migraine. However, lots of treatments are available to help ease the symptoms of a migraine attack.

When a migraine attack occurs, most people find that lying down in a quiet, dark room is helpful. Sleeping can also help. Some people find that their symptoms die down after they have vomited .

Most people affected by migraine will already have tried paracetamol, aspirin and perhaps anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen before they seek advice from their doctor. If ordinary painkillers alone are not relieving your symptoms, your GP might prescribe you a triptan to be taken in addition to over-the-counter painkillers . Triptans are available in different forms to suit individuals , although it is important to note that some people develop short-term side effects when taking triptans. Your doctor may also prescribe you anti-sickness medication. If your situation does not improve after treatment, you might be referred to a specialist migraine clinic.

It is important to avoid taking painkillers on more than two days per week or more than 10 days per month as this can in fact make things worse by triggering medication overuse headaches.

Circadian Rhythms And How They Work

Circadian rhythms refer to 24-hour cycles that are part of your bodys internal clock, basically running in the background of the body to coordinate essential processes and functions at the right times. Probably the most well-known and important circadian cycle is your sleep-wake cycle. When most people speak of the circadian rhythm, they usually do so in the context of sleep, since its one of the most obvious examples of our circadian rhythms.

During the daytime, exposure to light causes the body to send signals generating alertness, which helps keep us active and awake. As it gets dark, the body begins producing melatonin a hormone promoting sleep and continues to send signals that help you stay asleep at night. This aligns the sleep and wake times with day and night, creating a cycle of restorative rest for the body.

Data Sources Search Strategy And Data Extraction

Studies were identified by searching papers indexed on PubMed and Scopus. Two investigators conducted an independent search on both databases using the search terms âheadacheâ OR âmigraineâ AND âsleepâ. The search was carried out from January 1, 1990 to November 30, 2018, and was restricted to humans, and to articles published in English language. Duplicate publications were removed by checking manually. Titles and abstracts were screened to verify study eligibility. Full texts of selected studies were evaluated if appropriate. The reference lists and Google Scholar citations for all primary and review articles were also searched. Discrepancies between reviewers were resolved by discussion.

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Why Am I Waking Up With A Migraine

Theres a close relationship between sleep and migraines. Disruptions in your natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, can trigger attacks, and, in turn, migraines can interrupt your sleep patterns. Its little wonder that those with sleep disorders are more likely to experience this condition.

Disruptions in sleep due to several disorders can be at the root of your morning migraine, including:

  • Insomnia: This disorder is characterized by an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This is because both insomnia and migraine may be due to the activity of some of the same brain regions and neurotransmitters.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea:Interrupted breathing while youre asleep characterizes this condition. It can cause snoring, cold sweats, sudden waking, and excessive nighttime urination.
  • Teeth grinding:If you grind your teeth at night, a condition called bruxism, muscular pain around the temporomandibular jointthe hinge that connects your jaw to the skullcan cause headaches to flare up.

Though they can happen at any time of day, migraines most commonly arise in the morning hours, between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Whats behind your morning migraine attack? Several factors may be at play.

When To See A Doctor

Can Snoring Cause Headaches?

A person should see their doctor if they have frequent or severe headaches at night. A doctor will be able to carry out tests to check for any underlying causes and to find out which type of headache the person may be experiencing.

A person should also see their doctor if they notice any unusual symptoms, such as:

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Is There Such Thing As A Migraine Sleep Position

The type of headaches caused here are tension headaches, according to doctor Adegoke. Commonly known as a stress headache, this type of headache causes a band-like tightness and pressure across the forehead, temples and back of your head, she explains.

It can also cause tenderness in the scalp neck and shoulder muscles.

If you struggle from migraines, as above, make sure youre sleeping on your back or on your side. Theyre the best positions, generally speaking, to support your body through sleep sans pain.

Tried Everything And Still Cant Sleep You May Have A Sleep Disorder

Although you can solve many sleep problems by changing your habits, a sleep disorder like snoring, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or chronic insomnia may require the attention of a medical professional or sleep specialist.

People living with migraine are between two and eight times more likely to experience sleep disorders compared with the general public, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Those with chronic migraine 15 or more headache days a month report twice the rates of insomnia as those with less frequent headaches.

Poor sleep is a common trigger for migraine headaches, Rosen says. There is good evidence that sleep disrupters, like snoring and sleep apnea, are linked to chronic migraines.

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Sleep Disorders That Can Cause Morning Headaches

The Connection Between Sleep and Headache

Sleep disorders are linked to a variety of different types of headaches including cluster headaches, hypnic headaches, migraines, and tension headaches. There are a few sleep disorders in particular that may contribute to morning headaches:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: blockage of the airway. People with sleep apnea often report frequent morning headaches due to fluctuating carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the blood. These are referred to as sleep apnea headaches.
  • Insomnia: People with insomnia struggle to fall or stay asleep. Insomnia is associated with a higher risk of headaches. Sleep disturbances are reported to trigger migraines, and tension headaches are more likely to become chronic in people who experience poor sleep quality.
  • Bruxism: Also known as teeth grinding, bruxism may be triggered by stress or other factors. The grinding and clenching of the teeth and jaws during the night has been shown to increase the risk of waking up with a tension headache or migraine.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome: There is a strong relationship between restless legs syndrome and migraines, which are both thought to arise in part due to problems with shared brain pathways or iron metabolism. RLS is also related to tension headaches. Researchers believe that anxiety and depression may contribute to both conditions.

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What Is The Link Between Caffeine And Nighttime Headaches

Contrary to popular belief, caffeine is not a direct trigger of migraines. In fact, it is caffeine withdrawal that can spark off a pretty nasty migraine in some people. Caffeine-withdrawal migraines can sometimes get worse at night. Drinking a small amount of coffee may alleviate the symptoms of nighttime withdrawals, but this should be weighed up against the fact that caffeine can disturb sleep for many people.

If you decide to give up caffeine completely, withdrawal migraines will usually disappear within 2 4 weeks. On the other hand, if your intake of caffeine fluctuates, you may suffer these mini withdrawals on a semi-regular basis. For example, regular coffee drinkers that avoid caffeine for 1-2 days at a time may experience withdrawal migraines. As such, keeping caffeine intake consistent can help to prevent migraines associated with caffeine.

According to a review on NCBI, caffeine can even be used to treat some rare headache disorders such as hypnic headaches. This is partly because caffeine slows down the production of adenosine a hormone thats involved in nerve functioning and pain sensitivity in the brain.

Do I Have A Headache Or A Migraine

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are slightly different conditions. Its useful to distinguish between headaches and migraines because they often have different causes and may be treated in slightly different ways.

In terms of severity, a headache is usually mild-to-moderate in intensity, whereas a migraine is moderate-to-severe. Headaches are often felt in the temples and across both sides of the head. Conversely, migraine pain is usually isolated to the right or the left side of the head. Headaches give you the sensation of feeling bunged-up, lethargic, or under-pressure, whereas migraines are generally characterized by a jabbing or pulsating sensation. Finally, people with migraines often suffer additional symptoms such as vomiting, poor balance, or visual disturbances, whereas people with headaches do not. .

Most types of headaches and migraines can occur at any time during the circadian cycle . However, there are three types of headaches that are experienced almost exclusively during the night.

On the other hand, there is no type of migraine that occurs exclusively at night. Thats not to say that your nighttime head pain is not caused by a migraine as everyone experiences symptoms differently. However, if youre experiencing pain only at night, this might suggest youre contending with a headache rather than a migraine.

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What Are Hypnic Headaches

Hypnic headaches are a rare type of headache that occurs during sleep and wakes the person up, which is why theyve earned the nickname alarm-clock headaches. The pain can keep people up for at least 15 minutes, if not longer. People who experience hypnic headaches typically have them several times a week.

What Are My Treatment Options For Sleep Apnea

Headache Every Night At Bedtime

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the first thing to do is to see your doctor. Leading up to your appointment, keep a record of your sleep, fatigue levels, and any other symptoms youâre having.

Your doctor might suggest a sleep study, which often requires an overnight stay at a sleep center. This test helps doctors understand the severity of your disorder and create a treatment plan. In addition, there are at home sleep tests that might be an option for you.

In many cases, a continuous positive airway pressure device is prescribed to treat symptoms. This tends to be incredibly effective. But there are also a few lifestyle changes that the National Sleep Foundation says could help with symptoms, including:

  • Losing weight. According to the NSF, this is the most important action you can take. But we say this with a caveat, because we know losing weight isnât an overnight solution that itâs easy to just do.
  • Avoiding alcohol.Drinking alcohol can cause interrupted sleep and makes the upper airway breathing muscles relax.
  • Quitting smoking. Smoking worsens swelling in the upper airway, which makes apnea and snoring much worse.

We get how unfair all of this is. Itâs bad enough that you have to manage those incredibly painful migraine headaches. Itâs even worse when theyâre affecting your sleepâand infuriating that there isnât a clear explanation for why your migraines are making it so hard to get some decent rest.

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What Causes Hypnic Headache

We dont fully understand what causes hypnic headache. Its likely that it involves the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that is responsible for a range of bodily functions including body temperature, thirst, sleep cycles, blood pressure and heart rate. There is a need for more research into the causes of hypnic headache.

Headache Vs Migraine Symptoms

Headaches occur for a variety of reasons and range in location, severity, and duration. Aside from migraine, there are several other headache types, including:

  • Sinus headache: This type arises from pressure in your sinuses, often due to congestion or illnesses like influenza or the common cold. It usually affects the face, nose, and cheeks.
  • Tension headache: The most common kind of headache, tension headaches usually affect the forehead or back of the head. Stress, eye strain, and hunger are all causes of this type.
  • Cluster headaches: These are very painful and occur dailyor even multiple times a dayfor prolonged periods of time. These often arise when blood vessels serving the brain dilate. Common triggers include physical exertion, bright lights, and altitude.

Though headaches are the principal sign of migraines, they cause a range of other symptoms. Theres a good deal of variation between cases as well. Migraine attacks progress in stages, each with distinct characteristics:

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Other Causes Of Morning Headaches

Aside from sleep disorders, some other causes of morning headaches are:

  • Dehydration: Water is essential to many processes in the body. When you are not drinking enough water you can become dehydrated, which may be one reason you are waking up with headaches.
  • Too Much or Too Little Sleep: Both oversleeping and poor-quality sleep can raise the chances of a tension headache the next day. Sleep deprivation lowers the pain threshold, and people with chronic headaches experience more severe pain when they go short on sleep.
  • Snoring: Snoring contributes to the development of chronic headaches for people who already experience occasional headaches.
  • Depression and Anxiety: Research suggests that anxiety and depression contribute to both poor sleep and headaches, as well as raise sensitivity to pain.
  • Using the Wrong Pillow: Pillows are designed to reduce tension by keeping the spine in a neutral position. A pillow that fails to provide enough support for your head and neck may contribute to headaches overnight. If your morning headaches occur along with neck, shoulder, or upper back pain, you may need to use a higher or lower pillow.

What Are The Types Of Headaches

Can Stomach Sleeping Cause Neck Pain or Headaches?

There are six main types of headaches. Chronic paroxysmal hemicrania, hypnic headaches, and cluster headaches are very rare disorders but are worth mentioning here because they tend to occur exclusively at night. In the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, they are referred to as sleep-related headaches.

Pressure and Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache most people will experience these during their lifetime. A heavy ache is typically felt at the temples or behind the ears. Often, pain radiates back-and-forth between these two areas. The pressure is often felt bilaterally and can make you feel sluggish. Tension headaches can be triggered by tiredness, dehydration, or stress.

Sinus Headaches

Our sinuses are the hollow spaces between our nose, cheekbones, and eyes. Allergic reactions can cause the sinuses to swell and become congested. Also, after catching the flu, our sinuses might become infected with a virus, causing them to swell and become tender. Both conditions can lead to a sinus headache.

Indeed, people suffering from influenza or hay fever find it hard to sleep because of their symptoms. If youve developed a sinus headache, youll experience facial pain in addition to your headaches. Facial pain is usually felt around your forehead, cheeks, and eyes.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cluster Headaches

Chronic Paroxysmal Hemicrania

Hypnic Headaches

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Sleep And Headaches: What Is The Connection

While headaches may be considered a symptom or warning sign of various sleep disorders, research has also shown that sleep disturbances often occur in those who have frequent headaches. There is no doubt that sleep and headaches are connected, but the strongest relationship between headaches and sleep is found in the number of REM cycles experienced. Migraines occur in direct correlation to the amount of REM sleep periods experienced per night , and this connection is even stronger in relation to cluster headaches and REM cycles. Headaches have also been associated with the decreased oxygen intake and transient hypertension caused by sleep apnea, and these factors have been theorized to cause early morning headaches.

Create The Right Sleep Environment: Dark Quiet Cool And Comfortable

Your bed is for sex and sleep nothing else, says Noah Rosen, MD, the program director of neurology at Northwell Health and an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at Zucker School of Medicine in Great Neck, New York.

This means no TV, digital screens, or eating in bed, Dr. Rosen says.

Rosen recommends a cool, dark, and quiet room for sleeping. Use humidified air in the bedroom during winter months, and weighted blankets or specially designed pillows if these help you relax, he says.

Keep your bedroom uncluttered, and try blackout curtains if you are light sensitive, the National Sleep Foundation suggests.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine

The main symptoms of migraine are an intense, throbbing or pounding headache often affecting the front or one side of the head, nausea and sometimes vomiting , and an increased sensitivity to light smells and sound. The throbbing headache is often made worse by the person moving.

Other symptoms of migraine might include poor concentration, feeling hot or cold, perspiration , and an increased need to pass urine. This can occur before, during or after the migraine attack.

People might also experience stomach aches and diarrhoea.

It is common for people to feel tired for up to two or three days after a migraine.


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