Headaches and Sleep: Understanding the Connection for Better Health

Headaches and sleep disorders are intrinsically linked, each capable of influencing the other. Millions suffer from chronic headaches, and a significant proportion of these individuals also struggle with various sleep disturbances. Understanding the connection between headaches and sleep is crucial for managing both conditions effectively and improving overall health.

The Impact of Sleep on Headaches

Sleep is a vital restorative process for the brain, allowing it to recuperate and recharge. Disruption in normal sleep patterns can lead to physiological stress that triggers headaches in several ways:

Sleep Deprivation

Missing sleep can increase the protein responsible for pain regulation, making the brain more sensitive to headache triggers.

Poor Sleep Quality

Fragmented sleep or non-restorative sleep can lead to increased frequency and intensity of headaches, particularly tension-type headaches and migraines.


Interestingly, sleeping too much can also provoke headaches. Many people report experiencing a ‘weekend headache’ due to changing sleep patterns or sleeping in.

Types of Headaches Linked to Sleep Disorders

Several types of headaches are commonly associated with sleep disturbances:

  • Tension Headaches: Often described as a tight band around the head, these can be caused by poor sleep and stress.
  • Cluster Headaches: These severe headaches occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, and disturbances in the body’s biological clock can trigger these pain episodes.
  • Hypnic Headaches: Known as the ‘alarm clock headache,’ they occur during sleep and awaken the sufferer, typically at the same time every night.
  • Migraines: Poor sleep is a well-known trigger for migraines, which can also cause sleep disturbances due to the pain and discomfort they bring.

Sleep Disorders That Can Lead to Headaches

Several sleep disorders are known to contribute to the frequency and severity of headaches, including:

  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is strongly linked with chronic headaches.
  • Sleep Apnea: This condition, characterised by pauses in breathing during sleep, often leads to morning headaches.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): Discomfort and the urge to move the legs can disrupt sleep, leading to morning headaches.
  • Bruxism: Involuntarily grinding or clenching teeth during sleep can cause tension-type headaches.

Strategies for Managing Headaches and Improving Sleep

Improving sleep quality can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.

Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body’s clock and can reduce headache frequency.

Create a Restful Environment

Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep – quiet, dark, and cool – and free from electronic distractions.

Mind Your Diet and Exercise

Avoid caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime. Regular physical activity can also promote better sleep.

Relaxation Techniques

Activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can decrease stress and improve your sleep quality.

Consult a Professional

If sleep disorders or chronic headaches are severely impacting your life, seek advice from a healthcare provider such as a professional chiropractor.

At Morley Chiropractic Clinic, Established in 1996 our chiropractors, based just outside of Leeds, have been supporting local patients for over 20 years. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help, get in touch with the team today.

Contact Us

0113 238 3693


Bruntcliffe Road
West Yorkshire
LS27 0LQ

Opening Times

  • Monday: 8am to 7pm
  • Tuesday: 8am to 7pm
  • Wednesday: 8am to 7pm
  • Thursday: 8am to 7pm
  • Friday: 8am to 6pm
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed