Is snoring giving you a headache?

Sleep problems are common in people with migraines. A study published last year in the Journal ofHeadache and Pain reported that:

  • Migraine sufferers were three times more likely to experience daytime drowsiness compared with individuals without headaches.
  • Severe sleep disturbances were five times more likely among migraine sufferers.

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder with abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses are called "apnea." People with sleep apnea often snore loudly, have interrupted sleep, and feel tired after a full night's sleep. Sleep apnea is most common in men over 65 years old and people who are overweight, smoke, and have high blood pressure. A community survey published earlier this year in the Journal of Headache and Pain failed to find a link between migraine and sleep apnea.

A new study in the journal Cephalalgia, however, has found an important link between snoring and migraine. Headache patterns were evaluated in 268 people with habitual snoring. Nearly one in every four snorers reported experiencing morning headaches at least one day a week. And those individuals with morning headache had a worse overall quality of life. Among individuals with morning headaches, one in five described their headaches as migraines. The significance of this finding was highlighted in another study published this year in the journal Neurology. That study found that sleep apnea treatment with continuous positive airway pressure—called CPAP—not only improved the sleep disturbance—it also improved migraines. In that study, 10 percent of sleep apnea patients had migraines. After the eleven patients with migraine and apnea in the study were treated with CPAP, their sleep quality improved. Furthermore, 10 patients became migraine free and the other patient had a decrease in headaches from daily to twice a month.

So what's the bottom line? Having migraine probably doesn't put you at increased risk for developing sleep apnea. But if you have migraines, feel tired after a full night's sleep, and snore, you should talk to your doctor about your sleep to see if your sleep problems might be aggravating your migraines.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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