Can Sleep Apnea Cause Morning Headaches?

Headaches in the morning can find their source in any number of causes. However, one often overlooked culprit in this regard is obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that can cause a myriad of problems for a patient in both their waking and sleeping lives.

Without proper management, these problems can spiral out of control, and subsequently start to interfere with one’s ability to function in their daily existence.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Morning Headaches?

If you’re suffering from morning headaches, or know yourself to be one who has sleep apnea, then take a look at this overview that explores the relationship between these subjects, which can improve your sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a disruptive sleep condition that can cause an individual to wake up multiple times throughout the night due to temporary disturbances to their breathing. The condition has the potential to impact an individual’s health if left unaddressed for extended periods of time.

A sleep apnea headache is a specific type of headache that is experienced by individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. These types of headaches are characterized by a pressing pain that is felt on both sides of the head, and typically last for approximately four hours.

Some studies estimate that approximately 20% of all individuals who suffer from sleep apnea will experience a sleep apnea headache at some point in their life. It is highly likely that the headaches experienced by individuals with sleep apnea have something to do with the oxygen deprivation experienced by these people during sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Associated Headaches

There are many different symptoms that can indicate that an individual is beginning to develop sleep apnea, and that this development might begin to impact an individual’s propensity to develop disruptive sleep headaches down the line. Additionally, some signals that you might be developing sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring, choking, or gasping in the night
  • Waking in the middle of the night due to obstructions to one’s breath
  • Feeling like sleep is unrefreshing or ineffective
  • Daytime symptoms like excessive sleepiness or low amounts of energy

There are also many other effects that sleep apnea and its associated headaches can have on an individual. Some of the following effects of sleep apnea should also be paid attention to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hypertension
  • Sleep issues
  • Increased stress
  • Sleep bruxism and teeth grinding
  • Tightness in the head, neck, jaw, or shoulders

Experiencing any of the above symptoms? Unaware whether or not you already suffer from sleep apnea? Then we advise you report your symptoms to your physician. They should prove able to determine the source of your distress.

Treating Sleep Apnea Headaches

If you’re experiencing disruptive sleep apnea, there are several different treatment options available for you. Some of the following are considered go-to procedures for diminishing the impacts of sleep apnea.

CPAP Therapy:

During CPAP therapy, the patient wears a mask over your face and nose while you sleep. This mask is connected to a machine that delivers air pressure directly into the airways of the patient. This remains the most common and oftentimes effective method of treating sleep apnea and improving a patient’s quality of life.

Lifestyle Changes:

There are many different lifestyle factors that can contribute to developing OSA. This includes things like excessive consumption of alcohol, sleeping on your back, and using sedatives. Physicians often recommend that patients avoid drinking alcohol and sedatives before heading to bed, or having them switch to sleeping on their stomach to improve their experience with sleep apnea.

Oral Appliances:

Oftentimes, custom-fitted oral appliances are prescribed to mild and moderate cases of OSA. These fixtures are designed to clear up your airways by adjusting the position of your jaw and fixing one’s tongue in place. These fixtures are worn at night while they sleep.


There are certain surgeries that can be beneficial for diminishing the impact of OSA. Tonsillectomies and Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty can widen the airways of the throat and other elements of the respiratory system. In turn, this can lessen the pressure in these systems that can exacerbate sleep apnea.

During your consultation with your physician, you should be able to determine whichever of the above treatments would be considered beneficial for your particular situation.

Your Resource for Treating Sleep Apnea

Sleep MD NYC is one of the metropolitan area’s best clinics for treating sleep disorders and issues of all stripes. If you’re having issues with sleep apnea or any other sleeping problem, contact us today to set up an appointment with our professional sleep doctor.

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