A good night’s rest is essential for both our survival and wellbeing. Sleep regulates and restores many of the body’s functions, like our learning, memory, and immune systems1. Sleep also affects our mood, as well as our organs like the brain, heart, and lungs. It comes as no surprise, then, that sleep deprivation can negatively impact these systems and lead to mental and physical health problems. In fact, migraines and other types of headaches are among some of the most frustrating illnesses related to sleep deprivation.
What Is Sleep Deprivation?
Unlike insomnia, which is a difficulty falling or staying asleep2 when one otherwise has the time and environment for sleep, sleep deprivation occurs when one does not have the opportunity to get enough sleep.Reduced sleep opportunities3 could be the result of several barriers, including occupations with long or irregular work hours, substance abuse, stress and anxiety, medications, or medical conditions that disturb sleep. Some people experience sleep deprivation because these barriers prevent them from devoting enough time for sleep. Others have adequate time to sleep, but find themselves waking up frequently throughout the night, thereby resulting in not enough restful sleep. Sleep deprivation has been linked to reduced cognitive performance and focus, excessive daytime sleepiness, mood changes, and trouble with memory and decision-making. Research has also linked sleep deprivation to a number of headache disorders4. Unique among these is the migraine, which most often affects individuals when waking up in the morning.
What Are Migraines?
Migraines5 occur in about 12% of the U.S. population. They are recurrent headaches characterized by moderate to severe throbbing or pulsing pain, which is most often concentrated on one side of the head. Other common symptoms include nausea, weakness, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraines are further categorized by whether or not they include aura. This refers6 refers to additional symptoms that may occur before or during a migraine, including muscle weakness, tingling, visual disturbances, loss of vision, and other neurological symptoms. Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines, and those with a family history of migraines are more likely to experience migraines themselves.