Do You Wake Up Every Morning with A Headache?

Does it seem like you wake up with a headache every morning? Starting your day off with a headache dampens your mood for the whole day, even if the headache eventually goes away. According to the Sleep Foundation, as many as 1 in 13 people get headaches every morning. That is no small number. Consider your friends and neighbors in San Jose; that’s around 79,000 people waking up with a headache. In Los Gatos, approximately 2,500 people suffer from morning headaches.

If one of the many morning headache sufferers is you, you need a solution. Reducing or eliminating your morning headaches will increase your quality of life and help you achieve a state of wellness. Look no further to find out how you can treat your morning headaches. A common cause is sleep apnea, a very manageable condition that Dr. Nancy Nehawandian of Top Down Dental can help you treat.

How to Identify a Sleep Apnea Headache

There are many types of headaches, and simply occurring in the morning doesn’t guarantee that it’s related to sleep apnea. The only way to definitively tell if you have sleep apnea is a sleep test conducted by a physician. However, this article can help you determine if there is a good chance your headaches are linked to sleep apnea. First, let’s check out the different types of headaches.

Primary Headaches

Primary headaches are due to the headache condition—it’s not a symptom of another condition. Migraines, tension, and cluster headaches are types of primary headaches. Most headaches are primary. The pain is from chemical activities in your brain and the swelling of nerves and blood vessels around your skull and neck. You might get a primary headache due to

  • Alcohol
  • Food sensitivities
  • Nicotine
  • Poor posture
  • High exertion during physical activity
  • Skipped meals
  • Coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose
  • Lack of sleep

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches are triggered by a different condition; they’re a symptom of the other condition. These types are much less common than primary headaches, and they can often be severely painful. A secondary headache is a sign from your body saying, “something isn’t right here.” You might get a secondary headache from

  • Nasal or sinus infections
  • Concussions
  • Dehydration

There are much more serious causes of secondary headaches, too, such as

  • Brain tumors
  • Brain aneurysm
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Stroke

Now, you might be thinking, well, since the lack of sleep causes these, sleep apnea headaches are primary. However, it’s actually the opposite. Headaches are a symptom of sleep apnea; therefore, sleep apnea morning headaches are secondary headaches. Listen to your body as it’s saying, “You aren’t breathing at night!”

What Does A Sleep Apnea Headache Feel Like?

If your morning headaches are from sleep apnea, they’ll occur at least 15 days of the month, and they’ll feel like a pressing rather than a pulsing pain. You’ll likely feel it on both sides of your head simultaneously, and they can last up to four hours. However, some people only experience sleep apnea morning headaches for 30 minutes or so. It’s important to note that sleep apnea headaches do not come with nausea or sensitivity to light. Those headache symptoms are more common for other conditions but not sleep apnea.

It’s estimated that 18% of people with obstructive sleep apnea have sleep apnea headaches in the morning. Ask yourself these questions to help determine if you might have a sleep apnea headache:

  1. How often do I wake up with a headache? Keep a headache journal and record each day that you wake up with a headache. Include the date, where you feel the pain, and other symptoms present. People with sleep apnea headaches typically get them at least 15 days a month.
  2. What does the pain feel like? Does it pulse? Press? Constrict? Sudden strong pain?These are usually a pressing pain.
  3. Where is the pain? Behind your eyes? One side of your head? Both sides? The back of your head?Sleep apnea headaches will occur on both sides of your head at the same time.
  4. How long does my headache last? Take note of the time your headache starts and when it ends. Sleep apnea headaches can last up to 4 hours.
  5. Could my headache be caused by anything else? Alcohol? Foods? Coughing?
  6. Does my headache come with other sleep apnea symptoms?

If you think you may be experiencing sleep apnea headaches, get a sleep test from a sleep physician. After you get your results, Dr. Nancy can help you find the sleep apnea treatment that works best for your lifestyle.

Why does Sleep Apnea cause headaches

Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Headaches?

When you have sleep apnea, you don’t breathe continuously throughout the night. You experience pauses where your brain and body are deprived of oxygen. The more episodes you have (the higher your AHI), the more time you’ve spent without oxygen which causes your headache.

Sleep apnea headaches also occur because of fragmented sleep. Each time your body goes without oxygen, your brain awakens you to resume breathing. It’s unlikely you notice these awakenings, but they happen nonetheless. This doesn’t allow you to go through complete sleep cycles. When that happens, your brain and body can’t restore; toxic chemicals are left on your brain, and your cells don’t repair, causing a headache.

Treat your Morning Headache in San Jose

Fortunately, morning sleep apnea headaches are very treatable in San Jose, CA. The first step is to get a sleep apnea test. You can head to a sleep lab and spend the night there or opt for a two-night home sleep test. Call us at (408) 354-5600 for a recommendation.

Step two, after you get the results of your sleep test, is to make an appointment with Dr. Nancy to discuss your sleep apnea treatment options. You and Dr. Nancy will discuss the type of sleep apnea you have, its severity, your lifestyle, and what your options are. Many people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea can use a CPAP alternative called Oral Appliance Therapy or a DNA Appliance.

Before you know it, you’ll be sleeping soundly and waking each morning without a headache. You’ll likely find that other symptoms that you didn’t know were related to sleep apnea have vanished, too.

Treat Morning Headaches in San Jose

It’s time to take your sleep apnea treatment into your own hands. Call (408) 354-5600 or make an appointment online with Dr. Nancy Nehawandian of Top Down Dental in San Jose, CA. She can help you treat your sleep apnea and raise your quality of life.