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Miami Headache Blog

Sleep Disorders and Headaches

Miami Headache Institute - Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sleep Disorders May be Causing your Headaches

The lack of a good night’s sleep could lead to morning headaches. Conversely, persistent headaches could also lead to a lack of proper, restful sleep. Studies have established a link between sleep disorders and headaches. Waking up every morning tired and with a headache could be a sign that you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

OSA is an underdiagnosed condition that some 18 million people in the US have, most of them men. It happens when the upper airway closes during sleep, interrupting breathing and the flow of oxygen. This literally causes you to wake up in order to breathe again. This waking for air will happen several times throughout the night, robbing one of a good night’s sleep. The diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea requires an overnight sleep test done in a laboratory setting. The patient’s sleep patterns, interruptions and oxygen levels are monitored by a doctor. If your partner says you snore loudly and sometimes stop breathing while you sleep, you may very well have OSA. Here are some other common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up gasping for air
  • Waking up tired
  • Waking up with a headache

Other Sleep Disorder Linked to Headache

Other studies have found a link between the lack of sufficient rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and chronic headaches. REM sleep is characterized by random movements of the eyes under the eyelids during sleep. Most of our vividly remembered dreams happen during this phase of sleep. We go through about six deep sleep cycles during the night interspersed with periods of REM sleep. When those cycles are disrupted, sleep becomes less restful, serotonin levels become insufficient and headaches can occur in some people.

In a study of 147 migraine sufferers published in the journal Headache, not one patient reported feeling refreshed after a full night’s sleep and a full 80% went further and said they usually wake up tired. This study ties headaches to a lack of proper sleep.

If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, if you snore or toss and turn throughout the night, if you are irritable, depressed or fatigued due to a lack of restful sleep, you may be experiencing one of the sleep disorders mentioned above. Whether you suffer from headaches or not, lack of proper sleep can lead to all kinds of problems, including the inability to concentrate, poor performance at work or school as well as more dangerous and even life threatening symptoms.

At Miami Headache Institute we can pinpoint the cause of your headache and provide you with a treatment plan to reduce or even eliminate your headaches. In some cases it may be a simple matter of a behavioral or lifestyle change. If you suspect that your headaches are caused by your lack of good sleep, or if you need help getting your headaches under control, contact Miami Headache Institute today to get on the path to being headache free, and possibly to a better night’s sleep.

Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the founder of the Miami Headache and Neurological Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas.  Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi's medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.

Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.


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