Chronic headaches, both migraine and tension-type, are known to be associated with poor sleep quality. Little-to-no sleep for two consecutive days may elicit a headache. When the element of stress is added, the risk for a headache episode is higher and the severity of the headache is greater as well. Acquiring enough sleep every night, by contrast, can actually protect the human body against a headache event.
Insomnia is the most frequently reported sleep disorder among individuals who experience migraines or tension headaches habitually. Insomniac individuals may also experience depression and anxiety regularly. Moreover, patients who complain of chronic headaches along with depression or anxiety are likely to complain of restless leg syndrome. Patients who awaken to a headache in the morning rather than during nighttime, however, will usually have a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea.
One study has found a compelling correlation between sleep terrors and migraines. During a sleep terror crisis, a child will awaken suddenly from slow-wave sleep. The study also reports that children with sleep terrors are more likely to have a greater number of migraine events as adolescents. An instability in the neurotransmitter serotonin is believed to be the shared culprit between sleep terrors and migraines.
Ironically, oversleeping is another trigger for chronic headaches. For this reason, experts suggest an average of 8 hours of sleep per night to maintain an adequate amount of sleep for optimal health.
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