The Effect of Sleep on Headaches

Adult Understanding Pain

Published on 18th May 2017

Edited on 18th May 2017

PRINT
Article 1 - The Effect Of Sleep On Headaches (1)

Sleep is an essential part of our everyday lives and one of our most basic human needs. During the time while we are asleep, our brains are at their most active. It is a time when they are able to rejuvenate, consolidate memories and sort through a whole days’ worth of information ready to start again in the morning.

For the body, sleep means it can recover from the past day, repair and build muscles and tissue cells and cleanse away all the toxins absorbed during the day. A good nights’ sleep can have a great impact on our overall quality of life and will leave us feeling ready for the day ahead, whereas a bad night’s sleep can leave us anxious and struggling to make it through the next day.

How Long Should I Be Sleeping For?

Whilst everyone needs a slightly different amount of sleep to function properly, most adults need around eight hours of good quality sleep a night.[1]

Not Enough Sleep

One in three of us struggle with poor sleep. A lack of sleep has serious effects on our brain's ability to function and it can cause all sorts of issues such as depression, memory problems and weight gain, which can leave us feeling grumpy and battling through the day with a horrible headache.[2]

So, can not getting enough sleep leave us with a headache? Yes - studies have shown that those who slept an average of only six hours tend to have significantly more severe and more sleep-related headaches than those who got a longer sleep[3].

Too Much Sleep

Whilst not getting enough sleep is well known to trigger headaches, perhaps surprisingly, sleeping too much may also have an effect. Having a longer lay in on the weekend after a stressful week, can cause a rapid release of neurotransmitters. These tell your blood vessels to either constrict or dilate which in turn will cause a headache[4]. Rather than spending your whole weekend asleep in bed, why not just try to relax your body whilst you’re awake – you could try yoga or meditation.

Relaxing before bed                                                        

Reduce Screen Time: The rise of the use electronic handheld devices from e-readers to smartphones, screen time before bed has been making it increasingly hard to fall asleep. There are concerns that the blue light these devices emit, can suppress melatonin levels in the body, a hormone that helps you sleep.5

These chemicals control our body clock meaning it could take longer to actually fall asleep. Also, staring at your phone for hours on end can cause eye strain, neck pain and can trigger headaches so it is a good idea to try to switch off anything electronic an hour before bed to help your brain wind down.[5]

Take a Warm Bath: For this technique to work at its best, make sure that your bath is only warm and not too hot, in order to help your body reach the ideal temperature for resting[6]. If you do this regularly, it may help your body recognise that it is coming to the end of the day and will soon be time for bed.

Organise Your Thoughts: Grab a notebook and write down all of your worries from the day, any other thoughts and anything that you need to get done. You can then go to sleep with a completely clear mind, knowing that these things will be written down, ready for you to work through in the morning.

A Cup of Tea: Obviously, having a cup of coffee before bed will keep you up all night but a nice warm cup of decaffeinated, herbal tea can help to relax and calm the body.

Why not try these tips tonight and over the next week? Soon enough you should start to see a difference in the quality of your sleep, translating to much more productive days. If you do find you are still suffering with a headache, Nurofen Express Liquid Capsules are on hand to target pain quickly and help get you back to feeling yourself. Active ingredient – Ibuprofen. Always read the label and if symptom persist or get worse, it's best to seek medical advice from a doctor.

 

UK/N/1216/0077j


[1] https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/sleep#ZbGX7dySmDJfIbId.97

[2] http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/lack-of-sleep-health-risks.aspx

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15985108

[4] http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/headaches/pages/headachetriggers.aspx

[5] http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/11November/Pages/Study-calls-for-smartphones-and-tablets-to-have-bedtime-mode.aspx

[6] http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/insomnia/Pages/bedtimeritual.aspx

PRINT