The Link Between Headaches and Sleep Apnea

Written by
Jason Smith RPSGT
Published on
December 9, 2021 3:18:40 PM PST December 9, 2021 3:18:40 PM PSTth, December 9, 2021 3:18:40 PM PST

Around 45 million Americans experience headaches on a regular basis and these can have a big impact on your daily life. These can be caused by a huge range of things and, for some people, headaches will go away with minor lifestyle changes. However, for others, their headaches can be the result of another underlying condition.


There is a strong link, for example, between headaches and sleep apnea. In this case, treating the underlying condition might also treat your headaches. 


Want to know more? Then read on to find out everything you need to know about headaches and sleep apnea.


What is Sleep Apnea? 

Approximately 22 million people in America are currently living with sleep apnea. This condition means that while you are sleeping you stop and start breathing sporadically.


The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (or OSA) which involves obstructed airways. In order to diagnose sleep apnea, you'll need to speak to your doctor or order a home testing kit.


This can be dangerous if left undiagnosed as it increases your risk of suffering from a stroke. Sleep apnea can also lead to mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue. So where do headaches come into this? 


Are Headaches and Sleep Apnea Linked? 

A recurring morning headache is a common symptom of sleep apnea. Morning headaches affect around 18% of people living with sleep apnea.


This happens because your obstructed airways limit the amount of oxygen reaching your brain while you sleep.


This results in a pressing headache that you feel on both sides of your head. This may be a short-duration headache or can last for up to four hours, but most people find that they get better throughout the day.


Unlike other headaches, such as migraines, sleep apnea headaches do not come with any light sensitivity or nausea.


Other Causes of Headaches

If you are experiencing recurring headaches on a regular basis, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for patterns. This can help identify the cause of your headaches. Tracking patterns in your headaches include noting: 


  1. When your headaches occur
  2. What you have been doing the hours leading up to your headache
  3. Changes in your diet or exercise regime
  4. Other symptoms you experience in tandem with your headaches


Stress and alcohol are common triggers for a holiday headache, for example. In comparison, hormonal changes or light sensitivity are often responsible for bringing on migraines.


Gathering as much information about your headaches can help a doctor identify what is causing them and recommend effective treatment. So it's a good idea to start doing this as soon as possible.


Get Help Today

There is a strong link between headaches and sleep apnea, particularly if you find your headaches occur in the morning. Figuring out the pattern of your headaches can help you identify what is triggering them. 


Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to manage sleep apnea and stay safe and comfortable at night. Check out our range of CPAP products now to reduce your symptoms of sleep apnea.