If you wake up most mornings with a headache, sleep apnea might be the cause. The American Migraine Foundation confirms that snoring increases the risk of chronic headaches and that sleep apnea patients often awaken with a headache. But how do you know if sleep apnea is causing your morning headaches?
Is Sleep Apnea Causing Your Morning Headaches?
One reliable way to determine if sleep apnea is causing your morning headaches is to determine if you have sleep apnea. Ultimately, you will need an exam and sleep study to determine if you have the condition, but you may recognize that sleep apnea might be causing some of your signs and symptoms.
Sleep apnea signs and symptoms
Obstructive sleep apnea results from a blocked airway while you are asleep. Signs and symptoms include:
- Loud snoring
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Morning headaches
- Morning dry mouth
- Morning sore throat
- Choking or gasping for breath
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea can increase the risk of other medical conditions, including:
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
What Causes Sleep Apnea Morning Headaches?
People with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing for brief periods while asleep. Breathless moments reduce the oxygen level in your bloodstream. The oxygen-deprived blood affects all your organs, including your brain.
This sequence precedes your headache:
- Oxygen in your blood decreases
- Carbon dioxide increases
- Blood vessels in your brain dilate
And you can awaken with a morning headache.
How Does a Sleep Apnea Morning Headache Feel?
Dull pain usually characterizes a sleep apnea morning headache. Other headache symptoms include:
- Location: Above the eyebrows but can spread throughout your head
- Frequency: Daily
- Length: An hour or two
Do You Think Sleep Apnea Is Causing Your Morning Headaches?
If you think sleep apnea is causing your morning headaches, schedule an appointment with your medical doctor. Your doctor will refer you to a specialist for an overnight sleep study to monitor your sleep and breathing and determine if sleep apnea is causing your symptoms.
Sleep Apnea and Morning Headache Treatment
Often, treatment options for sleep apnea and morning headaches include wearing an oral appliance while you sleep. The custom-made appliance will move your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open and ensure your blood oxygen levels are steady throughout the night. You will rest better. And it might be the answer to prevent you from waking up with a morning headache.
Dr. Siny Thomas, a Sugar Land, TX, dentist, sponsors this post.