Beyond migraine, lack of sleep or sleep disruption can lead to other types of headaches. The most common headache associated with a lack of sleep is a tension-type headache. A tension-type headache can feel as if it starts in the neck muscles, temples, or simply feel like a tight band is around the head. Usually more moderate than migraine, tension headache sufferers can still benefit from more sleep. Another type of sleep-related headache is the cluster headache, which can often be confused with migraine. According to Dr. Dawn Marcus in Principals of Gender-Specific Medicine, “Cluster headache is distinguished by the unique headache pattern of brief (30–60 minute duration) and excruciating unilateral, retro-orbital pain.” They generally occur in intervals that last weeks and are followed by headache free periods of up to a year at a time. Less commonly, people can experience chronic cluster headaches which occur daily.
What can be Done?
Routine and/or behavioral changes are required for those who suffer from migraine as a result of sleep problems. Migraine sufferers must go against their natural urge to sleep the headache off, lie down, or rest because as mentioned above, over-resting can exacerbate sleep problems at night. During the day, try regular exercise, increased water intake, and decreased caffeine intake after noon. Also, before bed, while unwinding is key, do not use devices that emit blue light because this can send a false trigger to your brain to keep you awake. This includes computer and phone use. Lack of sleep not only causes migraine but can lead to problems like Alzheimer’s later on down the road, so mastering a proper sleep routine is essential.
Max Gottlieb is the content manager for Senior Planning. Senior Planning is a free service dedicated to helping seniors find Memory Care, Assisted Living, and any other type of long-term care.