When we’ve had a full night’s sleep, we feel alert, refreshed, and ready to tackle the day.
But when you’re sleep-deprived, you might still feel tired or have a headache or other symptoms of sleep deprivation.
Staying awake to watch TV, read, or work in the morning can cause a headache. A tired, groggy feeling after a full night’s sleep, on the other hand, might be a sign of daytime fatigue.
Other symptoms of sleep deprivation include:
- Feeling cold
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Lack of motivation
The best way to deal with these symptoms is to make sure you get enough sleep, and get up and around as soon as you’re ready.
How to treat a headache after sleep deprivation?
When you’re sleeping, the brain and body are in a state of sleep inertia. Sleep inertia means that your body and brain are not functioning normally during that night of sleep.
Sleep inertia can sometimes be a sign of a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. This type of sleep disorder causes the airways to open and close repeatedly during sleep, causing breathing to become shallow.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about getting a sleep study.
Other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, may cause sleep inertia.
If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to keep yourself well hydrated during the day and to avoid alcohol. This can help keep the airways open, improve breathing, and reduce the likelihood of sleep apnea.
If you’re not sure if you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. They can perform a sleep study to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea.
Other treatments for sleep apnea include prescription and over-the-counter medications and surgery.
How to prevent a headache after sleep deprivation?
It’s not always possible to avoid sleep deprivation altogether. But you can help prevent some of its symptoms by:
- Making sure you get enough sleep each night
- Sticking to your bedtime routine
- Avoiding smoking, drinking, or eating late in the evening
- Taking regular naps
If you’re experiencing symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as a headache, you can’t always prevent them. But you can take steps to avoid them.
Also, if you find that you’re getting headaches after sleep deprivation, you might want to work with a doctor to make sure the cause isn’t a sleep disorder.
If you do have a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor to discuss possible treatment options.
Sleep deprivation headache treatment
There are several things you can do to treat a headache after sleep deprivation.
- Take a nap, preferably in the afternoon or early evening.
- Stay away from alcohol and caffeine, which can make it harder to fall asleep.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Take an over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen.
When to see a doctor about a headache?
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor.
- Headache with nausea or vomiting
- Headache that doesn’t go away
- Headache that gets worse
- Headache after a head injury
- Headache that disrupts your normal activities
- Headache that occurs with fever or stiff neck
Is there a risk for a concussion from sleep deprivation?
It’s not uncommon to experience some symptoms of sleep deprivation, including a headache and an upset stomach.
However, sleep deprivation is not considered a concussion.
Your risk for a concussion increases if you engage in sports or other activities that require you to be awake for long periods of time. Some examples of these activities include:
- Martial arts
Other causes of a headache
If you notice that your headache happens to coincide with any of these other symptoms, it’s likely not related to sleep deprivation.
Other causes of a headache include:
- Tension headaches from overuse of tension
- Sinus headaches
- Cervicogenic headaches from neck problems
- Tension from stress
- Tension from anxiety
- Tension from depression
- Tension headaches after a head injury
Keep reading: What’s the difference between a concussion and a headache?
Take the sleep test
A sleep study can help your doctor determine if you have a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
During a sleep study, your doctor can measure your body’s response to sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders. This will help your doctor determine the best treatment options for you.
Don’t delay getting a sleep study, especially if you’re experiencing severe symptoms. It’s important to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Take your study results with a grain of salt. There’s no way to know for sure if you have a sleep disorder without a sleep study.
Take a nap
When you’re sleep deprived, your body and brain may not be functioning properly. It’s important to take a nap, if possible, to give your body and brain a rest.
If you’re having trouble sleeping after a long day, a nap can help you fall asleep. Even if you’re not sleepy, a nap can help you feel more energetic and alert.
Make sure you don’t nap too late in the day. You should get up and get moving as soon as you’re ready.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
If you want to get a good night’s sleep, avoid caffeine and alcohol. These can make it harder for your body and brain to fall asleep.
If you have a headache, a nap can help you fall asleep.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may notice sleep inertia after a night of sleep deprivation.
Sleep inertia is a state of being that occurs when your body and brain are not functioning properly during sleep. The symptoms of sleep inertia include the following:
- Difficulty waking up
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms after a night of sleep deprivation, you should get more sleep.
Try to avoid staying awake for very long periods of time
If you have trouble staying awake for a long period of time, you may experience sleep inertia.
If you’re sleep deprived, try to avoid staying awake for more than an hour. This can help reduce the symptoms of sleep inertia.
There are other ways to deal with sleep inertia, such as:
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Taking a nap
- Taking a warm bath
- Getting up and moving around every 30 to 60 minutes
- Getting some quiet time to relax
Take a walk
Take a walk or go for a run if you feel tired. It may help you relax and fall asleep.
If you’re experiencing stress or anxiety, smoking can make it harder for you to fall asleep and wake up.
If you’re worried about your sleep, ask your doctor if there’s a medication that can help.
Take a pain reliever
If you experience a headache, pain reliever can help you cope with the pain. Some examples of pain relievers include:
- Naproxen sodium
Get a good night’s sleep
If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and get plenty of sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you may find it helpful to try a few of these tips:
- Stay in bed for a while after you wake up. This can help your body reset itself.
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time each night.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
- Avoid bright lights and screens before bed.
- Avoid eating a large meal before bed.
- Avoid eating right before bed.
- Avoid sleeping with a partner.
- Avoid screens at bedtime.
- Avoid sleeping close to your bedroom window.
- Avoid using your bedroom for work or school.
- Avoid using a computer, tablet, or phone in bed.
- Use a sleep suit while sleeping in bed.
- Avoid using alcohol.
- Avoid drugs and other substances before bed.
Don’t take cold or flu medicines
If you’re sick with the common cold or flu, you shouldn’t take any kind of medication. These can make it harder for you to sleep.
If you’re having a seizure, you should never take seizure medications. These can make it harder for you to fall asleep.
It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to taking medications.
The bottom line
If you’re sleeping less than you think you should, you might have a headache and other sleepiness symptoms.
Talk to your doctor if you have a headache that’s not related to other sleep issues.
In general, it’s important to get enough sleep each night. Try to stick with your bedtime routine and avoid late-night eating or drinking.
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