The Relationship Between Poor Sleep and Neck (Cervicogenic) Headaches

Cervicogenic headacheObtaining enough sleep on a regular basis is critical in order to maintain our physical and mental health. Those who sleep poorly or who constantly awake throughout the night can often suffer from neck and back pain. This may lead to chronic headaches. Referred to as a “cervicogenic headache”, such a condition can be debilitating and downright painful. This is why it is important to understand the correlation between headaches and insufficient sleep. Let us take a closer look at how these two scenarios are related.

Why Could Sleep Trigger This Type of Headache?

The muscles within the shoulders and the neck are highly complicated and inextricably related to one another. If this region is placed under strain (such as sleeping incorrectly), the associated nerves can send pain signals to a portion of the brain stem known as the trigeminocervical nucleus (often abbreviated as TCN). These electrical impulses are thereafter interpreted as a headache by the brain. In the majority of cases, the upper three neck joints (C1, C2 and C3) are involved. To put it simply, instances when these joints are placed under strain or remain at an awkward position for a long period of time can often lead to a headache.

What Poor Sleep Habits Can Cause a Headache?

As we have seen above, neck headaches can be the direct result of a poor body position while asleep. Some situations which can contribute to this condition include (but might not always be limited to):

  • A pillow that does not offer a sufficient amount of neck support.
  • Sleeping in an awkward position.
  • A mattress that is either too hard or too soft.

It should also be mentioned that psychological stress may manifest as neck pain and stiffness in some individuals. This can lead to sleep issues that will increase the chances of developing a headache.

What are the Main Symptoms of a Neck Headache?

One of the first steps in diagnosing the presence of this condition is to appreciate a handful of the most common symptoms. These will often include:

  • Feelings of tenderness at the base of the skull and around the top of the head.
  • A dull pain that may radiate to the face on occasion.
  • A generally stiff neck or a slight lack of mobility.

Those who experience headaches in the middle of the night or upon waking might also be suffering from this condition. The good news is that you have numerous treatment options after a diagnosis has been provided by a health professional. Furthermore, relief can generally take place within a short period of time. This is one of the main differences between a neck headache and a migraine.

Do you suspect that you may encounter cervicogenic headaches from time to time? Is it difficult to obtain a sound night of sleep? If so, please contact Complete Chiropractic in order to determine the best treatment options.

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