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Lack of Sleep Headache: How to Identify and Deal With it

If you’re experiencing some sleep issues or disturbances, you might develop something that is known as a lack of sleep headache. These headaches can be a bit mysterious, since it’s not always simple to pinpoint their nature, and be sure that your lack of sleep is influencing them.

However, a headache from lack of sleep is definitely a real thing, and it’s much more common than you’d think. The severity of these headaches can range drastically, and they’re influenced by a wide variety of things, not only sleep-related disturbances.

One of the things that you can do to prevent sleep deprivation headaches is improve your general quality of sleep. This can be done by upgrading your sleep products, and purchasing yourself a new, high-quality mattress. That said, if you’d like to learn more about lack of sleep headaches, in general - you’ve come to the right place!

The Causes of Lack of Sleep Headaches

So, can you develop a headache from lack of sleep?

Yes - you definitely can. This has proven to be true for both adults and children[1], and anyone in between. The question isn’t “is it possible?”, but instead, “how does it work?”.

There are multiple different reasons why a person might develop a lack of sleep headache. Some of them are one-off events (such as a long night out with friends), while others can be a bit more insidious and long-lasting.

For the sake of clarity, we’ll focus on the latter. Furthermore, a lack of sleep headache can develop due to a few reasons at a time, too - it doesn’t have to be a single, exclusive point that went wrong!

Lack of REM Sleep

In the world of sleep science, there’s a term called “REM sleep”. It’s an abbreviation of “rapid eye movement”. This is one of the most important sleep stages that everyone goes through as they sleep at night - well, at least everyone SHOULD go through it.

REM sleep is where the learning processes happen. It’s an “active” form of sleeping. More specifically, during REM sleep, your muscles tense and are paralyzed, your breathing gets faster, your eyes start moving around erratically. This is the stage of sleep where you do all of your dreaming, too.

Lack of sleep headache: a man having a headache.

There seems to be a correlation of a lack of REM sleep, and lack of sleep headaches. The less REM sleep you receive throughout the night, the bigger the chances that you’ll experience a headache in the morning after.

REM sleep happens around 90 minutes after you fall asleep, give or take. If the lack of REM stage sleep is also part of the reason for your sleep deprivation headaches, it might mean that the issue is rooted deeply in your psyche, and could relate to stress, substance abuse, or some other, third-party reason.

All in all, anyone wondering “can lack of sleep cause headaches?” should surely look deeper into the different stages of sleep, and especially REM sleep. This will help you understand the issue a bit better.

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Teeth Grinding

If you’re having trouble with your sleep health, it might be related to stress, among other things. This stress can then manifest in other issues, as well - teeth grinding being of the more-common ones.

There’s actually a pretty simple way to figure out whether or not you suffer from teeth grinding habits in your sleep, and whether or not they are the cause of your lack of sleep headaches. Simply ask yourself - is there only a headache, or do I feel some sort of pain and discomfort in my jaw, too?

Lack of sleep headache: a woman suffering from pain from grinding her teeth.

If the latter sounds familiar, this might actually be your cause of the issue. Combine teeth grinding with a general lack of proper sleep, and you have yourself a pretty nasty headache on your hands.

Evidently, it’s worth establishing the right correlation here. Teeth grinding does not cause sleep deprivation issues! However, if you’re having trouble with your sleep, and it’s because of, say, stress, this can lead to teeth grinding, which will then likely cause lack of sleep headaches, too. Everything’s related!

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Motion Transfer

This is, evidently, a pretty specific issue to have. It’s most common with individuals who sleep with their significant others.

If you sleep with your partner, there are two things that you should think about - is the other person a restless sleeper, and is your mattress good at absorbing motion. If you answered “no” to the latter question, the former one might not even matter - this could perfectly well be the reason for your sleep deprivation headaches.

Motion transfer can affect your sleep. If your partner is constantly tossing and turning around in bed at night, these motions can surely wake you up, or at least put you in a sort of a “stand-by” position.

Lack of sleep headache: a couple sleeping.

Following that, you might find yourself googling “can lack of sleep cause headaches” the following day. Motion transfer results in you having trouble falling asleep or sleeping, in general, which then leads to lack of sleep headaches. Multiply that by every single night, and you have yourself a pretty self-evident issue on your hands!

This is where your mattress comes into play, as well. While this is something that we’ll elaborate on later in the article, you should keep in mind that all-foam beds are your best option when it comes to motion absorption.

Sleep Apnea & Snoring

Both snoring and, on the more-extreme side of the spectrum, sleep apnea can be major reasons for why you develop lack of sleep headaches. This is because both conditions cause major sleep disturbances, and constant waking up at night. This then results in a lack of sleep, and the rest is history.

To top it all off, snoring is often the symptom of developing sleep apnea, too. If you snore at night, don’t just brush it off - make sure to get to the bottom of the issue!

Lack of sleep headache: a man snoring in bed.

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing while they sleep, for brief periods of time. This breathing cessation will usually cause you to wake up, often in a chaotic and panicked state.

As far as the health condition itself is concerned, there are actually tools and resources designed to help you out. Different anti-snoring devices and CPAP machines can both mitigate the issue, and even help you get rid of it, altogether.

To be frank, if you’re experiencing increasing lack of sleep headaches that are only becoming worse with time, and are having trouble with sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to invest in a CPAP machine, and consult with your physician as soon as possible. Solving the latter issue can definitely get rid of the former one, as well.

How to Deal With Sleep Deprivation Headaches?

So, you’re now aware of the more-common issues that lead to sleep deprivation headaches. However, with that in mind, how do you actually go about dealing with this issue, in the first place?

Well, it does depend on the stage that you’re in - in other words, do you already have a lack of sleep headache? Or, perhaps, you’ve had one recently, and want to prevent it from coming back?

Let’s cover both scenarios, shall we?

Once You Have a Headache

You’ve woken up in the morning, sat up on your bed, and bam - you can feel a headache from lack of sleep. What’s the next logical step to take?

Well, many people would immediately turn to medications. Admittedly, this is usually a really effective way of treating these headaches - common painkillers can mitigate the pain in a few hours, and you should be set.

That said, though, some lack of sleep headaches can last for the entire day[2], or even multiple days on end! In these situations, painkillers are a lot less likely to help you out.

Lack of sleep headache: a woman sleeping.

One of the first things you can do is drink a lot of water. Believe it or not, it’s actually a really effective way to lessen the headache. At the same time, it’s a pretty good practice to do first thing in the morning, either way!

Following that, if you’re able, take things slow and easy. Allow yourself to rest, and avoid activities such as driving, screentime, or some intense physical exercises. Since your body is irritated enough, putting it through more stress can result in a more-severe lack of sleep headache.

As a final point, remember the reason why you’re having a headache, in the first place - lack of proper, high-quality sleep. Instead of focusing on the short-term cures for your headache, you should think about ways of how you can improve your quality of sleep, so that the issue wouldn’t persist.

Headache Prevention

Evidently, the best thing that you can do in regards to lack of sleep headaches is avoid them, altogether.

Sounds silly, right? Well, it’s not - what I mean is that you should do everything you can to prevent these issues from forming, in the first place. Granted that they have a lot to do with your quality of sleep, this is the area that you should be targeting, first.

Lack of sleep, however, can be present due to a huge array of different factors. Each of them should be carefully evaluated - your diet, general sleep habits, any and all substance abuse (this includes caffeine, as well), physical exercises, and so on.

Lack of sleep headache: a businessman sleeping on a laptop.

In fact, if you’re struggling with insomnia, or sleep deprivation issues that are similar to insomnia, you would do well to check out our article on how to deal with insomnia - here, I go in-depth on all of the points mentioned above, and analyze each factor that may contribute to one’s lack of sleep headaches.

Something that adds tremendously to the comfort of your sleep is the quality of your sleep products. It’s also a point discussed in the article mentioned above, but it couldn’t be more true - while you might think that sleeping on an old and sagging bed is “no biggie”, I’m here to tell you - it’s a major biggie.

Improve Your Quality of Sleep With High-End Sleep Products

As I’ve pointed out multiple times in this article already, lack of sleep headaches are typically caused by a  variety of different factors. Well, they *ARE* caused by lack of sleep, sure, but this is just the catalyst - the lack of sleep itself is what you should be aiming to solve, and the disappearance of sleep deprivation headaches will follow.

Among those different reasons lies the quality of your sleep products. For some people, this is going to be located at the top of the list, while others might be able to brush it off to a “lower priority” list.

Allow me to be frank with you - if your mattress is old and sagging, and can no longer help you relieve pressure points, isolate motion, or simply even retain proper spine alignment, it will definitely add to you feeling completely broken in the morning.

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Table: Some features of Saatva, Puffy, and Layla mattresses

Again - this leads to improper rest, which can then surely cause sleep deprivation, and a headache from lack of sleep is next. It’s all connected!

Mattresses - although arguably the most important - are just a single item, though. Perhaps your pillow needs to be changed? Or the bed frame itself is falling apart? These are the things that you should evaluate carefully!

With all of that said, below you’ll find three of the best mattresses that are currently available on the market. They are offered and sold by leading sleep product brands, as well - Saatva, Puffy, and Layla.

Saatva - The Best Innerspring Mattress on the Market?

First up, we have Saatva - a brand that is often named as the best sleep product provider in the entire industry. Specifically, we’re going to focus on the company’s Classic mattress - the flagship model that has consistently been scoring nothing but the best results in various user sleep trials and reviews.

What makes this particular bed so special, you might wonder? Well - everything, really!

The Saatva Classic mattress has been built using the highest-quality materials. It’s an innerspring product, which automatically comes with some specific pros and cons, too.

If you’re suffering from lack of sleep headaches due to the fact that your old bed has poor edge support, and you keep rolling to the sides and waking up, Saatva’s got you covered. This further extends to the sagging nature of some beds, as well - this is an issue that’s particularly prominent with foam mattresses.

Lack of sleep headache: Saatva guarantees.

Being a spring-based product, the Saatva mattress retains its shape very well, and isn’t prone to sagging or other typical age-related issues. This allows your spine to remain aligned to the surface of the bed, which, in turn, could improve both your quality of sleep, and also how your body feels in the morning, too.

The Saatva Classic bed is also a product that should be kept an eye on by anyone who tends to sleep hot. While figuring out can lack of sleep cause headaches, you might learn that sleeping hot is a big factor, as far as the answer to that question goes.

Well, I’m glad to tell you that sleeping hot is not a problem that you will have with Saatva! The coils located within the mattress guarantee proper airflow, and prevent the rest of the bed from heating up from your body.

Size-wise, Saatva provides customers the following options:

The bed also comes in adjustable firmness levels, and height, as well. Truth be told, if you’re suffering from lack of sleep headaches, and are certain that your mattress is one of the main causes for these sleep problems, you can’t really go wrong by choosing Saatva as your upgrade!

Puffy - Ideal for Pressure Relief

Puffy offers its customers all-foam beds. There are two notable mattress products that we could talk about, but we’ll focus on the base model sold by the company.

So, then, what’s so special about Puffy? Well, the fact that it’s an all-foam bed can immediately tell us a few big things.

Sleepers report the Puffy mattress to be a superb pick for anyone who’s experiencing problems with pressure points on their body. Oftentimes, these pressure points can lead to pains and aches, which will then result in sleepless nights.

You’ve guessed it - sleepless nights will then lead to sleep deprivation headaches.

Lack of sleep headache: the Puffy mattress.

The Puffy mattress contours to the sleeper’s body, and disperses pressure all throughout the surface of the bed. This way, specific pressure points won’t form on your body, and existing ones will slowly fade away with time, as well.

The contouring effect has another use, as well - motion isolation. Earlier on in this “lack of sleep headache” article, we’ve talked about motion transfer, and the issues that it may cause - specifically, how it can lead to the aforementioned headaches. Well, the Puffy mattress is the perfect example of a bed that can prevent this from happening!

The best part? The Puffy mattress should suit most types of sleepers out there. No matter if you prefer sleeping on your stomach, side, or back, you should be able to find proper comfort with Puffy.

The pricing options for Puffy’s base model are:

Definitely one of the best foam mattresses on the current market!

Layla - Flippable Design for Pressure Relief and Cooling Features

Layla is often seen as a unique pick for anyone who’s searching for the best mattress for themselves. This is due to the fact that the company deals in flippable mattresses.

Flippable beds are interesting, since they’re usually a strong hit or miss. In the case of Layla, though, it would seem that the brand has managed to create a truly amazing product.

To begin with, the flippable nature of the mattress makes it universally-approachable for all types of sleepers. Flipping the bed will provide you with different firmness settings - depending on your dominating sleeping positions, you’ll be able to choose the side of the mattress that you prefer best.

Lack of sleep headache: the Layla mattress.

Layla also uses high-quality materials in their mattress construction processes. This works to ensure that the beds both retain their shape, and also hold up to the tests of time and use. If you’re afraid that your lack of sleep headaches will return whenever your new mattress loses its initial charm, it’s not something that you need to worry about with Layla!

To top it all off, the Layla mattress is also amazing when it comes to temperature neutrality and cooling, at least as far as foam beds go. How do the products manage to achieve this, you may wonder?

One word - copper.

The Layla mattress is infused with copper. This allows the bed to retain its cooling capabilities, and doesn’t let the foam absorb all of the heat, and throw it back at the sleeper.

The price tags of the Layla mattress look like so:

All things considered, Layla is surely an amazing option for any sleeper out there who wants to improve their quality of sleep, and by doing so, get rid of lack of sleep headaches.

Furthermore, as you can probably see from the price tags attached above, you can actually get yourself the Layla mattress with an added discount! These prices are so at the time of me writing this article, though - make sure to always check the company’s official website for the latest updates!

Rounding Things Up

In this article, we’ve discussed some of the more-common reasons why you might be experiencing lack of sleep headaches. As you can probably tell by now, the list of possible reasons is quite extensive!

That’s actually the main thing that I hope you got out of this article, too - while sleep deprivation headaches are common, you shouldn’t focus on them, specifically, but should instead turn your attention to the reasons why you have them, in the first place!

Following that, it may seem rather self-explanatory - if you’re having a headache from a lack of sleep, all you need to do is get some more sleep, right? Well, no - that’s usually not how it works.

Saatva Mattress Review: The Best Affordable Luxury Bed? (2021)

Saatva Mattress Review: The Best Affordable Luxury Bed? (2021)

You can sleep all you want, hour-wise, but if you’re stressed out, sleep on a worn-down bed, or are suffering from sleep apnea, it won’t really make all that much of a difference.

With that logic in mind, if you’re constantly suffering from a headache from lack of sleep, you should take the time and investigate the issue further. Perhaps you need a CPAP machine to mitigate your sleep apnea and snoring issues? Or maybe a brand new pillow that wouldn’t feel as if it’s breaking your neck, and would allow you to rest peacefully?

All of that said, do take the time to research mattresses, as well. While it may seem like a trivial matter to some, a proper mattress can really change up your sleep game, and allow you to rest properly. Then, if you get enough rest, you won’t need to wonder - can lack of sleep cause headaches?

Conclusions

If you’ve read the article in its entirety, you should now have a pretty good idea about everything concerning lack of sleep headaches - why you have them, how to treat them, and how to avoid these issues, in general.

At the end of the day, these headaches aren’t considered to be dangerous - they will usually fade in a few hours, or a day, if they’re more-persistent. However, if you’re a frequent sufferer of sleep deprivation headaches, it’s actually an issue that can really get on your nerves, and ruin both your mood, and general quality of life.

This is why, even though they’re nothing to be concerned about, such headaches should be taken seriously, and treated even before they are able to develop. In other words, you should do everything in your power to improve your sleep hygiene, whether it be dealing with stress, fixing your diet, or even purchasing some new sleep products.

SAATVA PUFFY LAYLA

Pros

  • Very bouncy and responsive
  • Cool (temperature AND visual-wise)
  • Top-tier edge support
  • Handcrafted in the US from ECO materials
  • Best for all type of sleepers
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Total spine pressure elimination
  • Highest breathability & coolness
  • Lower Than Average Pricing
  • Flippable
  • Pressure Relief
  • Cooling Properties

Cons

  • Somewhat heavy
  • Average temperature neutrality
  • Fair Edge Support
  • 2-Week-Break-In-Period

Value For Money

Customer Satisfaction

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Table: Some general information about Saatva, Puffy, and Layla

If you’re in the market for a brand new mattress, all three of the brands mentioned in this article - Saatva, Puffy, and Layla - should definitely provide you with top-tier options. You can also check out our list of the best mattresses out there, in general - perhaps you’ll come across an ideal bed for yourself?

That being said, I’d like to thank you for reading this article, and wish you all the best when it comes to curing and dealing with lack of sleep headaches. Cheers and until next time!


Scientific References

1. Claudia Dosi, Mariagrazia Figura, Raffaele Ferri, Oliviero Bruni: 'Sleep and Headache'

2. J N Blau: 'Sleep deprivation headache'


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FAQ

Are lack of sleep headaches a real thing?

Yes, they are! In fact, it's actually pretty common for a person to experience lack of sleep headaches. These headaches are usually harmless, and should go away in a few hours. Some of the more persistent headaches, however, could signal the fact that you need to change something in your life - whether it be your diet, sleep routine, or even your mattress, too.

What's the best way to cure sleep deprivation headaches?

There are multiple ways of how you can address this problem. First, you need to figure out the root of the issue - while some headaches are a one-off thing, others are a bit more persistent. It's a good idea to start by normalizing your sleep schedule, and lowering your stress and anxiety levels throughout the day. Then, you should definitely look into upgrading your bed, and other sleep products, too.

What is a memory foam mattress?

Memory foam mattresses are created mostly from polyurethane and have additional chemicals added that increase its viscosity and density. It’s also often called “viscoelastic polyurethane foam”. In order to create the air movement and let your body “breath” while you sleep, it has open foam bubbles. Memory foam mattresses are created in a way to adapt to your body curves and to also recover their original shape after you get up. Therefore, this kind of top mattresses offer you the feeling as if is created specifically for you.

Do top rated mattresses offer a money-back guarantee? Is there a catch?

All of the top mattress brands offer a money-back guarantee. The free trial usually starts from 90 to 100 nights, and if you don’t like the mattress, you can simply give it back. The majority of best mattress providers will not only give your money back but will also come to get it for free. If the mattress provider is reputable, there won’t be any catch - everyone understands that you have to try the mattress before knowing if it fits you.

What is off-gassing? Is it poisonous?

Off-gassing refers to the odor which comes from a new mattress. It’s the process that happens when volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) leak out of the mattress foam into the air. Those chemicals include both human-made and natural components, including formaldehyde, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), benzene, trichloroethane, and perfluorocarbons. Top rated mattresses will have zero or very minimal off-gassing. Many of them are sent to the customer already after the off-gassing. Is it dangerous, though? Even though the smell can be unpleasant, there’s usually only a very small amount of chemicals that can do no harm to your health.

How long do top rated mattresses serve?

The durability of a mattress depends on the provider and the quality of the materials used. Usually, you get a 10-year warranty, which will be valid in case of any defects. Normally, mattresses will serve you from 7 to 10 years, or even longer. Thus, when you buy the best mattress, you should take it as a long-term investment.