Tired of Headaches? Read This Story

Armen Hareyan's picture

For many people, sleep is something that is taken for granted. For America's 45 million headache sufferers, sleep has been shown to have an impact on their condition. According to a recent online survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation (NHF) 79 percent of respondents stated that they wake up with a headache after sleeping for eight or more hours and 42 percent of respondents also noted that their headache occurred between 4:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.

Changes in one's sleep schedule have also been shown to make a difference in their headache pattern. According to the NHF survey, 68 percent of sufferers indicated that they do not awaken at the same time every day and of those, more than half tend to sleep in on weekends and change their sleep cycle during vacation. In some cases, sleep has an adverse affect on headache, however in other cases; sleep has proven to be beneficial in relieving a headache attack. Sixty-six percent reported that lack of sleep was a headache trigger. In a separate survey question, sixty-two percent found that sleep was beneficial in relieving a headache.

"Just as sleep patterns differ by individual, so too does the impact that sleep has on one's headache condition," states Suzanne Simons, executive director of the NHF. "Because sleep has such a varying effect, the NHF suggests that headache sufferers discuss with their healthcare provider whether any adjustments should be made to the sufferer's sleep schedule or if any lifestyle changes should be made."

When asked what adjustments they have made to ensure better sleep, the NHF survey respondents reported that avoiding caffeine (46%), going to bed at an earlier time (43%), and exercise (38%) were implemented with the greatest frequency. Even though these modifications have been made, 89 percent of survey respondents stated that their headaches have not diminished or gone away.


The nature of the relationship between headaches and sleep is uncertain " excess sleep may cause headache and sleep deprivation may cause headache. However, overlooking sleep-related problems in headache represents a missed opportunity. By speaking with your healthcare provider about sleep as a factor in headache, sufferers may identify this as a possible trigger.

The National Headache Foundation, founded in 1970 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving headache sufferers, their families and the healthcare providers who treat them; promoting research into headache causes and treatments; and educating the public to the fact that headaches are a legitimate biological disease and that sufferers should receive understanding and continuity of care.

For more information on headache causes and treatments, visit www.headaches.org or call 1-888-NHF-5552.

Supplemental sleep conditions - According to the NHF survey, respondents indicated that they suffer from the following:

Anxiety/stress (68%)
Fatigue (65%)
Depression (32%)
Snoring (30%)
Bruzism or teeth grinding (29%)
Insomnia (27%)
Daytime napping (24%)
Change in sleep pattern (17%)
Sleep apnea or trouble while breathing (9%)

Released by National Headache Foundation
This page is updated on April 23, 2013.