Lack of Sleep Headache: The Definitive Guide

Do you have a headache from lack of sleep, cure seems to be not found? Is your migraine getting worse day by day? Do most of your nights pass by gazing at the stars in the sky? If your answer to all these is yes, then you are suffering from sleep deprivation. Did you know that irregular sleep patterns can cause headaches? 

The link between headache and sleep is age-old, but what is still under speculations whether headaches cause sleep deprivation or whether headaches occur due to irregular sleep pattern. Researchers have broadly classified headaches into two categories—Migraine and tension. Besides causing headaches, sleep renders potential benefits in reducing migraines too. Confused whether sleeping is good or does it alleviate your pain points? So let’s delve into a little bit in detail on the relationship between sleep and headaches!

The fundamentals of sleep

After a tiresome day at the workplace, every individual yearns for a peaceful sleep at night. It is one of the most necessary body functions with a unique experience in each one’s life. While it can be rejuvenating and delightful for some, others may be terrified or exhaust due to oversleeping, and for some, it is like having it once in a blue moon! 

Despite popular belief that sleep is a state of inactivity, the studies reveal that the neurological system involved during sleeping remains active. Amongst the various factors resulting in sleep, the prime is the internal body clock, which has a circadian rhythm that repeats itself every 24 hours. This clock controls when a person should be awake or asleep. Besides, other factors such as the level of adenosine and melatonin rise as dusk fall, thereby ticking the brain to go on a sleep mode!

The interlink between sleep and headache

sleep and headache

A person with a tuned body system of sleeping, wakefulness, and appropriate timing is hard to find in today’s sedentary lifestyle. All of these are interlinked as sleep is a pivotal function to put the brain and the human body to rest. But irregular sleeping patterns can either cause headaches or occur due to headaches. 

Lack of sleep headache is mostly seen in people who sleep less than 6 hours a day, and the headache is an indication that the body requires more rest. But for those who have overslept, headaches indicate that the body needs to stay awake. So while some migraine sufferers find solace by lying down in a dark room, others may have reduced headaches once they resume regular daily activity as their body starts functioning. 

Headache from lack of sleep can occur due to tension as well. But these headaches are mild and moderate and don’t aggravate with sound and light. But a migraine attack typically occurring between 4 am to 9 am indicates its correlation to an individual’s sleep pattern. It can be severe and lasts for a prolonged span.

Studies reveal that lack of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is directly linked to painful headaches as it secretes proteins, which aggravate the pain points for a migraine attack. REM sleep plays an integral part in regulating mood swings, learning, and store memories. Apart from headaches, insomnia, and sleeping disorder can make people sensitive to pain.

Sleep Deprivation—Signs and causes

Do you yawn at frequent intervals? Are you feeling excessive sleepiness during work hours? Is your mood irritated for unknown reasons? Well, these are signs that indicate you are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation headache can cause if: 

  • The body doesn’t get an adequate amount of rest
  • Sleep is not in sync with the internal body clock and occurs at odd timings
  • Suffering from stress, anxiety, or other health perils including a severe migraine attack

Sleep deficiency can have mental and physical health perils, increases the risk of death, causes injuries, and loss of productivity. Sleep deprivation can cause much more than minor headaches as people with insomnia are found to have shrinkage in brain volume at certain parts. So sleeping is a fundamental body function, and hence sleep deprivation headaches should be nipped in the bud.

How to cure the headache due to lack of sleep?

For living a healthy lifestyle, it is imperative to sleep for a minimum of 7-8 hours a day. But headache from lack of sleep is the most common peril that individuals face for several reasons, requiring adequate treatment.

  • Use pain relievers such as several balms and medications available in the market.
  • Improve your sleep posture by using the right pillow
  • Avoid too much of bright light or sound during your sleep timing
  • For migraine attacks ease the pain with aspirin, ibuprofen, and the doctors prescribe various other OTC medications

A word of advice

A night of healthy sleep can promote behavioral changes and reduce headaches. So you must adhere to the sleeping requirement of the body instead of staying up till late at night. It is also best to avoid caffeine during bedtime as it can cause a lack of sleep, resulting in a throbbing headache in the morning.

So sleep well and stay healthy!

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