In sleep apnea syndrome, patients complain of diffuse headache in the morning localised to the frontal region, with a frequency that is independent of the severity of sleep apnea. The pain of the headache is mild to moderate and tends to disappear within 30 minutes after getting out of bed.

Frequently Asked Questions

The sleep disorders most implicated with headache include obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and circadian phase abnormalities. To confirm that you have headache caused by sleep apnea, you need a polysomnographic evaluation. Sleep apnea treatment can also improve the headaches.

Primary treatment for obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • upper airway surgery
  • Weight loss
  • CPAP treatment
  • treatment of nasal allergies
  • positional treatment
  • dental devices
  • Avoid sedation with hypnotics or opiates until the breathing is treated adequately.

Book a consultation with our Health Renewal doctors for Headaches.

There are so many types of headaches in a person's lifetime that it can be difficult to distinguish a migraine from sleep apnea headaches. That's why many of sleep apnea patients may present to other specialists with sleep complaints, but not a sleep doctor. 

The physician specialist may or may not recognise the presenting symptoms as being related to a sleep disorder. A patient with cardiomyopathy (a weakening of the heart muscle or a change in heart muscle structure) and a daytime fatigue may or may not be referred for sleep apnea evaluation, depending on if the cardiologist knows that cardiomyopathy patients are at high risk for sleep apnea or other forms of sleep breathing disorders.

An urologist may evaluate an obese young male for nocturia and recognise that sleep apnea may be a significant contributor to this problem and that sleep apnea treatment may result in decreased symptoms. The neurologists may or may not refer you for headache evaluations to determine if your recurrent headaches are caused by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea and headaches tend to improve with the sleep apnea treatment.

Sharon Izak Elaine Chat staff