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Can You Get Headaches From Lack of Sleep

Can You Get Headaches From Lack of Sleep

While many of us like to stay up past our bedtime, it's important to understand the impact sleep deprivation has on our health. One symptom that many people experience from lack of sleep is headaches.

Keep reading to learn how lack of sleep can cause headaches and discover expert-backed advice on what you can do to combat both. 

What Causes Lack of Sleep?

Believe it or not, there are a number of things that can cause lack of sleep.

The most common culprits include:

  • Unhealthy Habits: Eating unhealthy food late at night or drinking too much caffeine can disrupt your body's natural sleep cycle, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Stress: Stressful situations like having a lot of work to finish or relationship tension can keep you up at night.
  • Uncomfortable Environment: If your bed and bedroom conditions are not comfortable, it can be harder to relax and fall asleep.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and gastrointestinal conditions, can make it hard to stay asleep throughout the night.
  • Screen Time: Too much screen time right before bedtime can increase your alertness and make it difficult to get enough sleep.

How Can Poor Sleep Cause Headaches? 

It might surprise you to learn that there is actually a scientific reason why lack of sleep causes headaches. According to experts, when people don't get enough sleep, they are generally more likely to be affected by tension-type headaches

This is because fatigue can increase strain on your muscles and lead to muscle contractions in the face and neck. When this occurs, pressure can build up in these areas and lead to pain or discomfort in the form of a headache. 

In addition, research indicates that poor sleep can also trigger migraines in some individuals. For those who suffer from chronic migraines or cluster headaches, skipping out on regular sleep may make them more frequent or severe. 

While the exact cause is still unknown, researchers believe that changes in hormone levels due to lack of sleep could be one potential factor for migraine triggers. 

How Can You Get Enough Sleep?

The amount of quality sleep needed for optimal health varies from person to person, but most adults need between seven to nine hours every night. If your goal is to reduce the frequency or intensity of headaches, then it's important to prioritize getting plenty of restful sleep each night. 

To ensure that you're making the most of your sleeping hours, here are some simple tips that may help:

  • Practice a relaxing bedtime routine. Take time in the evening to do something calming, like reading a book or listening to soothing music. This can help your body and mind relax so you can get better quality sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant that can affect your ability to fall asleep, even several hours after drinking it.
  • Avoid physical activity right before bedtime. Regular exercise can help support overall sleep quality, but intense workouts close to bedtime may make it harder for you to fall asleep.
  • Manage stress with relaxation techniques. Manage stress levels with mindfulness activities such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or even tai chi. Managing stress can help calm an overactive mind and prepare you for a good night's rest.
  • Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and dark. Invest in blackout curtains or a sleep mask if you need to block out light. You may want to try wearing earplugs to eliminate any noise that might interfere with your sleep.
  • Stay away from electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets emit blue light, which can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps control your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Avoid large meals close to bedtime. Try to steer clear from eating a large meal before it's time to hit the hay, as this can cause discomfort and make it more difficult to fall asleep. But don't go to bed hungry, either — have a piece of fruit or some whole-grain crackers if you're craving a snack before bed.
  • Limit alcohol intake in the evening. While alcohol may initially help you to fall asleep, it can also disrupt your sleep later in the night. Aim to avoid drinking any alcoholic beverages at least a few hours before bedtime.
  • Take a sleeping supplement. Is a lack of sleep causing you to have headaches? Try Sleeping Beauty™ — a snoozy supplement made with natural ingredients to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.* Simply take one or two capsules an hour before bedtime, slip on your Love Wellness Sleep Mask, and let the sleep take over. 
  • Try herbal teas. Certain herbal teas, like chamomile, lavender, and passionflower tea, can help you to relax and drift off more easily due to their sedative effects. Alternatively, you can make your own tea by combining equal parts of valerian root and hops for an even stronger sleep-inducing effect.
  • Set a consistent sleep schedule and stick with it. Establishing and following a consistent sleep schedule can help regulate your body's circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Additionally, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • If you can't sleep, get out of bed. Instead of tossing and turning in frustration, try going to another room and doing something quiet and relaxing. Once you start to feel sleepy, head back to bed and try again. 

The Bottom Line

So, can you get headaches from lack of sleep?

The short answer is yes. Sleep deprivation is known to trigger headaches in some people — hence why it's so important to prioritize getting enough high-quality sleep. Incorporating healthy habits like avoiding screens before bedtime and creating a relaxing nighttime routine can go a long way.


Sleep Disorders and Headache | American Migraine Foundation

Associations Between Sleep Quality and Migraine Frequency | PMC

How many hours of sleep are enough? | Mayo Clinic

The Best Teas to Help You Sleep | Sleep Foundation

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