Is Sleep Apnea The Reason Behind Your Headache Every Morning?

December 30, 2023

Ever wondered that your headache every morning might not just be a random occurrence? If you find yourself in agony repeatedly, it may be a subtle indicator of sleep apnea. Let’s take a look at how both instances are interconnected with one another.

The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Morning Headaches

According to Dr. Paichun (Patrick) Huang, DDS, a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD) at Briar Forest Dental Group, sleep apnea is a leading contributor to hypoxic headaches. They result from oxygen deprivation during sleep, causing pressure in the head. While hypoxic headaches usually do not last long, they may serve as a marker for sleep apnea.

Recurring headaches upon waking up are common in individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). These headaches are characterized by a pressing pain across both sides of the head, lasting 2 to 4 hours. Unlike others, sleep apnea-related headaches do not bring along issues like nausea or sensitivity to light and sound.

What Do Sleep Apnea Headaches Feel Like?

Usually, such incidents happen in the morning and are more like a constant force, not pulsing pain. While sleep apnea headaches can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 5 hours, the good news is that they respond well to treatment.

Reasons Behind This Issue

The root cause lies in reducing oxygenated blood flow to your head during sleep. The interruptions in breathing because of sleep apnea result in lower blood oxygen levels, leading to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain. As a result, carbon dioxide accumulates in the bloodstream, causing blood vessels in the brain to expand and resulting in the development of sleep apnea headaches.

How Sleep Apnea Causes Morning Headaches

A good nocturnal snooze is crucial for your brain and body to rest and recharge. Sleep apnea disrupts normal breathing patterns due to airway blockage, leading to choking and gasping for air throughout the night. The increased frequency of such episodes causes issues like daytime drowsiness and morning headaches.

Treatment Plan

The good news about this condition is that it is easily treatable. Here are some ways to manage it.

1. Lifestyle Changes

Charity begins at home. Before we get down to medical intervention, making necessary changes in lifestyle is crucial to impact sleep quality and reduce the likelihood of sleep apnea headaches. Two of the most crucial modifications you need to do are:

  • Limit or completely avoid alcoholic beverages, especially before bedtime.
  • Quit smoking as it narrows blood vessels and hampers healthy sleep.

2. CPAP Therapy

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy can help those diagnosed with sleep apnea. This involves using a CPAP machine to provide pressurized air through a mask, ensuring the airway stays open throughout the night. Consistent use often improves sleep quality, increases daytime energy, and a significant reduction in sleep apnea symptoms, including morning headaches.

3. Surgery

In cases where CPAP therapy may not work, surgery is a suitable option. If the reason behind your sleep apnea is anatomical irregularities, the right way forward is surgical correction. Successful surgery helps your airway to remain open, allowing peaceful sleep.

4. Oral Appliances

A simpler solution, like an oral appliance worn at night, might work well for mild to moderate cases. This device addresses anatomical issues, keeping the airway open, resulting in a reduction in the frequency of sleep apnea episodes and consequential morning headaches.

Closing Note

If your throbbing headache in the morning has become regular, consult with a specialist immediately. Their assessment of your situation can help you move on to the most suitable course of action for managing sleep apnea. We offer multiple solutions for issues like sleep apnea. So, if you want more information on ways we can be of help, contact Briar Forest Dental Group. Dial (713) 784-4430 to connect with us. Or visit our clinic at 1988 Wilcrest Dr G, Houston, TX 77042, United States.

We are proud to serve patients from all nearby communities, including Briar Forest, The Memorial Villages, Memorial City, Westchase, and Walnut Bend.


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