Why does lack of sleep often cause headaches?
Many of the same brain structures and brain chemicals are involved in both sleep and headaches. When there is a problem with this specific part of the brain, it can affect both processes. Although the exact cause of both insomnia and headaches is often unclear, the link between the two is significant.
Sleep problems that can lead to headaches
Researchers have linked certain sleep disorders with headaches:
- Snoring may be a sign of breathing problems during sleep, and people who snore often awake with headaches.
- Three out of 10 people with sleep apnea suffer from morning headaches, although it’s not entirely clear whether this is due to snoring or another factor.
- Teeth grinding while asleep can lead to muscle strain and pain, which can result in a headache.
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Dr. Colleen Ehrnstrom is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty practice in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Areas of expertise include insomnia and other sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression.
Dr Ehrnstrom is the co-author of the book End the Insomnia Struggle: A Step by Step Guide to Help you Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep which offers a comprehensive, personalized sleep program that integrates the physiology of sleep, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).