We’re here to help! Call 1.800.356.5221
M-F 8AM-8PM | Sa 8AM-5PM (CST)

Sleep Apnea and Headaches: Everything You Need to Know

Table of Contents

sleep apnea and headachesAre you frequently waking up in the mornings with a headache you can’t seem to explain? It could be that you’re experiencing a headache from untreated sleep apnea.

What is a sleep apnea headache, and how do you know if you have one? Does sleep apnea give you headaches?

We’ll cover that and more in this in-depth guide. Stick with us as we cover everything you need to know about the connection between headaches, CPAP therapy, and sleep apnea.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Morning Headaches?

Morning headaches usually occur in the early hours of the morning, generally sometime between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. or so depending on the individual. Headaches can last anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours.

Can morning headaches be a sign that you have untreated sleep apnea? They can be!

If you’re experiencing morning headaches, you should look more into untreated sleep apnea.

Untreated Sleep Apnea and Headaches

Headaches, especially those that happen in the morning right after you wake up, could be a sign of a sleep disorder like sleep apnea.

Is a morning headache the same as a sleep apnea headache? It depends.

recent study looked into the connection between morning headaches and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This study found that 20.4% of those with OSA reporting morning headaches did indeed fulfill requirements for the ICHD-2 and ICHD-3 beta criteria for having a sleep apnea headache.

In short, if you’re regularly experiencing unexplained headaches in the morning, it could indeed be a headache from untreated sleep apnea.

Speak to your doctor. Only a professional diagnosis can determine if you’re experiencing headaches due to sleep apnea.

Can CPAP Cause Headache Pain?

If you’re currently using a CPAP machine, you might be wondering if your headache is due to the machine. However, your CPAP therapy should not cause headaches unless you have a sinus blockage or if your pressure is set too high.

It can take time to find the right pressure settings. If you feel the pressure might be too high, talk to your doctor about a new titration study.

Migraines and Morning Headaches

Did you know that a migraine can actually be the culprit behind your morning headache? Many people have trouble telling the difference between a migraine and a headache, but there are differences.

Types of Headaches

A headache causes pain around your head, face, and upper neck area. They can vary in both intensity and frequency.

The types of headaches include primary and secondary headaches. Primary headaches include:

  • Tension
  • Cluster
  • Hemicrania

Any chronic medical conditions affecting the central nervous system can induce secondary headaches. Sleep disorders, like untreated sleep apnea, are one of the conditions that can cause secondary headaches.

What Is a Migraine?

A migraine is a headache disorder, but migraine symptoms tend to be more intense. Headaches are one of the many symptoms of migraines.

If you have migraines, it can tie back to untreated sleep apnea because sleep apnea can cause pinched nerve pain in your neck, which can, in turn, lead to migraines.

Why? Untreated sleep apnea makes it tough to sleep on your back, so people with it often sleep on their stomach or side. Sometimes, this new sleep position can cause pinched nerves and neck pain, highlighting the importance of a CPAP pillow.

If you frequently suffer from migraines or you have morning headaches, you should consider getting tested for sleep apnea.

Classification of a Sleep Apnea Headache

What counts as an untreated sleep apnea headache?

The International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-III) states that sleep apnea headaches are recurrent headaches experienced by a person diagnosed with sleep apnea.

It might be difficult for someone to determine if they’re experiencing headaches due to something like stress or illness, rather than having a sleep apnea headache. Again, you’ll need to talk with your doctor to pinpoint the cause of your pain.

Treatment for a Sleep Apnea Headache

If you know you’re dealing with sleep apnea headaches, you’re probably wondering what you can do for them. Is there a treatment for the headache pain caused by your sleep disorder?

The first step is to see your doctor and find out if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Talk to your doctor about your headaches and any other accompanying symptoms, such as feeling tired throughout the day or having trouble concentrating.

The next step is to make an appointment for a sleep study. Once the results are in, you can start to treat the problem.

Treatment Options

Treatments for sleep apnea include lifestyle changes and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. A CPAP machine delivers air pressure to you while you sleep using a mask, hose, and machine.

There are also other options for you to look into, such as BiPAP or APAP machines, and you can learn more about the different machines on our site.

There are also different types of masks you can wear to treat your sleep apnea, including a nasal pillow mask, a nasal mask, or a full-face mask. You may need to try different styles to see what works best for you.

If you’re experiencing migraines as a result of untreated sleep apnea, switching to our CPAP pillows can help prevent the pinched nerves that may cause them.

There is some debate regarding what causes a sleep apnea headache. It could be the sleep disturbances, the low oxygen levels, or a combination of reasons. In any case, starting treatment for sleep apnea can address the problems you’re having with sleep apnea headaches.

Diagnosing a CPAP Headache

You don’t have to live with your headache pain. If you’re experiencing a recurrent sleep apnea headache and are also experiencing other symptoms of sleep apnea, you should talk to your doctor right away.

Sometimes, your partner can tell you if you’re waking up during the night, snoring, gasping for air, or if you stop breathing.

Start by taking our sleep apnea test. Depending on your results, make sure to speak with your doctor.

Think You May Have Sleep Apnea? Take Our FREE Sleep Apnea Quiz!

Discover your risk for sleep apnea with just a few clicks! Our FREE Quiz is super simple and easy to use. You’ll receive a personalized score that will tell you how likely you are to have this sleep disorder and the next steps you can take for diagnosis and treatment.

  • Taylor Whitten

    Taylor has seen sleep apnea treatment first-hand and has learned the ins and outs through formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment. She strives to make learning about sleep apnea and sleep apnea therapies a breeze. Interested in sharing your story or have a topic you’d like CPAP.com to investigate? Contact us!

Need Help With Sleep Apnea?

Table of Contents

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Need Help? 


Need more help? Contact us!

Get help from an expert like Liz

Our experts know CPAP inside and out. Give us a call today and one of our 5 star customer service representatives will help you.

or Text "Help" to 832-308-2219

or Text "Help" to 832-408-9760

Mon-Fri 8am-8pm CST, Sat-Sun 8am-5pm CST