How many sheep do you count before you fall asleep? If you have a little trouble getting around in the morning, there may be more to it than just a “bad night.” More than 50 million adults in the U.S. suffer from sleep disorders. Of course, these issues can range from simple occasional insomnia to more serious conditions like sleep apnea.1 Sleep disorders can cause you to feel irritable, constantly tired, and can cause conditions like sleep deprivation headaches (just to name a few). But what can you do about it?
Well, turns out your state of sleep might actually affect biological factors like your brain function, immune health, and even mental health.2,3,4
What you may not realize is that lack of sleep plays a role in even more ways. For instance, if you’re experiencing aggravating headaches – it may actually be a result of sleep deprivation.
But before reaching for powerful (and sometimes habit-forming) sleep aids, there are natural approaches to help you fight back against the pain, and transform your sleep.
Of course, if sleep deprivation headaches are proving to be a huge problem for you, the best thing to do is see a medical professional — someone to help diagnose treat the underlying cause of your sleep issues.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Lead To Headaches?
To understand how sleep deprivation headaches work, it’s important to look at what sleep does for your body. Now, when you’re asleep, your brain goes through different stages.
The two main phases are rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, and non-rapid eye movement, or NREM sleep. In REM, your body holds still except for your eyes, which dart around quickly. This is the phase associated with dreams.
When you’re in NREM, your body goes into a deeper state of sleep. Now, both phases can affect blood flow, the release of hormones, and even the release of certain proteins.5
At the moment, researchers have a few answers about the “what” when it comes to migraines and sleep deprivation, but they’re struggling to discover the “why.”
What is clear is that sleep deprivation headaches are one of the most common headaches in people.6,7 Some scientists believe that a disruption in the sleep cycle affects the brain in some way, often leading to pain. However, sleep deprivation isn’t the only cause of a headache.
Other headache (and even migraine) triggers include –
- Sensory stimuli like noise and light
- Intense physical exertion
- Changes in weather or barometric pressure
- Certain medications
- Hormonal changes in women
Now, lots of people turn to conventional pain relievers when they experience a migraine or headache.9 But there are other ways for you to…
First of all, if you’re dealing with conventional headaches or migraines, no matter what the cause, there are a heap of alternative treatments to help you deal with your pain. And there are some lifestyle choices you can make in order to minimize the chance pain occurring in the first place.
Now, if your headaches are unbearable, or if they last a long time, the best first step is to seek medical attention. But for occasional, manageable headaches or migraines….
1. Get Active
Believe it or not, staying in one position for a long period of time can lead to headache symptoms. For instance, if you sit at a desk a lot you may want to consider getting up and walking around every so often just to break things up.
A recent study showed that women who stretched more often experienced a 69% drop in the occurrence of headaches. In addition, the headaches the women had were less intense than when they weren’t applying the stretching regimen.
Adding muscle endurance and strength training to their routine helped even more.10
2. Try Acupressure
Proper acupressure therapy has been shown in certain studies to reduce the frequency of common migraines.11 If you’re interested in going this route be sure to find a practitioner who is licensed and experienced.
3. Get More Magnesium and Switch Up Your Diet
You already know that magnesium is an important mineral for your body, but most people just don’t get enough of it.
The thing is… a greater magnesium intake could reduce migraines by as much as 41.6%. And magnesium is easy to get more of. It can be taken as a supplement or even found in foods like Brazil nuts and cashews.
Believe it or not, some foods might actually be responsible for triggering your migraines. Common examples of foods that may do this are chocolate, onions, and even some fermented or pickled foods. Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone.
But, if you think food is the culprit you should try removing the suspected foods from your diet for a bit. When you reintroduce them one-by-one, you may discover the responsible party.12
4. Keep Hydrated
One of the best things you can do to prevent headaches is drink water. Studies have confirmed that there is such a thing as a water-deprivation headache. On top of pain, this type of a headache may lead to impaired concentration and irritability. So, be sure to drink water regularly and eat foods with high water content. Some great healthy high-water favorites are cucumbers, watermelon, and grapefruit.13
5. Use Feverfew
Feverfew extract is an herbal remedy traditionally used for preventing migraine attacks. Feverfew has been around for a long time, but today most folks use it for migraine headache prevention. It’s also said to help with menstrual issues, arthritis, allergies, dizziness, nausea, and even toothaches.14
6. Up Your Ginger Intake
Sometimes, prolonged sleep deprivation headaches can lead to nausea and it’s a well-known fact that ginger can help with nausea. But it turns out, ginger can do more than help settle your stomach. In fact, a recent study showed that ginger had the potential to limit the severity and duration of migraines.15
7. Get A Massage
A massage may actually be able to help you take a stand against your sleep deprivation headaches.
One study showed that not only did massage reduce migraine frequency, but it also improved sleep quality.16
8. Apply Some Peppermint Oil or Lavender Oil
Essential oils have become popular for many reasons, and they may even help with headaches. One recent study showed the menthol in peppermint oil was able to help with migraine pain and nausea.17 And lavender oil can help when its applied to the temples or inhaled. In fact, one study showed that breathing in lavender provided faster relief for some migraines.18
Sleep Deprivation Headaches in Review
Scientists are still unraveling the benefits of a good night’s sleep and how it can positively affect your body. Conversely, researchers are studying sleep deprivation and how it can harm your body.
At the moment, it’s clear that a lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health issues. Among these are migraines and full-blown cluster headaches.
But you can take a natural approach to handling your sleep deprivation headaches, and the pain that comes with them. Just be sure to consult your doctor or medical professional when trying to get to the root of your migraine problem.
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