What Causes Morning Headaches?
Headaches range from dull, throbbing aches to sharp, stabbing pain or tightening sensations in the head. Morning headaches encompass a variety of headache types that can be present upon waking or shortly thereafter.
Headaches and sleep problems share several brain pathways, particularly in the region of the hypothalamus. Sleep disorders have been shown to increase sensitivity to pain, and in turn, headaches can cause problems with sleep. In other cases, sleep problems and morning headaches may both arise due to a third factor, such as stress, anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes, or alcohol consumption.
Sleep Disorders That Can Cause Morning Headaches
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: 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.
Ways to Prevent Morning Headaches
The best way to prevent morning headaches is to create healthy sleeping habits. These include:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime.
- Use blackout curtains or eye masks to help you sleep in a dark environment.
- Lower the temperature in your bedroom slightly before bed.
- Limit smartphone and laptop use within an hour of going to bed.
- Relax before bed with a warm bath or shower, some gentle stretching, or other calming activities.
- Look for ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Eat a light snack before bed if hunger is disrupting your sleep.
- Try a snoring mouthpiece, especially if you are a chronic snorer or suffer from sleep apnea.
Why Snoring Mouthpieces Help Prevent Morning Headaches
Snoring mouthpieces are designed to keep your airway open throughout the night by pushing your jaw either forward or to the side. This allows for better air flow and helps keep breathing steady. Better breathing means better sleep quality, and thus, fewer morning headaches.
Snoring mouthpieces are also designed to be comfortable and easy to use. They typically stay in place throughout the night and require minimal adjustment, and many can be used with orthodontic braces.
If you are regularly waking up with a headache, take the time to assess your sleep habits and investigate any hidden sleep issues such as snoring mouthpieces and sleep apnea. A solid sleep hygiene routine paired with the right snoring mouthpiece can help you get the quality rest you need and keep morning headaches at bay.