Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sleep and Headache Related

An article, Sleep and headache: a bidirectional relationship" in Expert Rev Neurother. 2010 Jan;10(1):105-17 discusses the connections between sleep and headache. The perception of both is similar and controllled by the Thalamus, Hypothalamus and Brainstem. The evidence, according to the article is "there is clinical evidence indicating that sleep disorders can precede the appearance of certain headaches and that head pain" this is well known among patients with slep apnea who frequently have morning headaches. A common cause of headache pain is TMJ disorders or non-physiologic neuromuscular function of the jaw, jaw joints (TMJ), jaw muscles and trigeminal nervous system. The study also stated that "that head pain, especially when frequent, can, in turn, affect sleep quality".

It turns out that the two primary causes of morning headaches are TMJ disorders and Sleep Apnea. The NHLBI actually considers sleep apnea to be a TMJ disorder. The report "Cardiovascular and Sleep Related Cosequences of Temporomandibular Disorders" explains the connections in detail at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/meetings/workshops/tmj_wksp.pdf.

The authors hope to " In the present work the anatomy, physiology and pathology of sleep and head-pain perception will be reviewed with the aim of highlighting the points of contact and possible unifying treatment strategies." This is exactly what is done both by the NHLBI and on this website. Sleep and Headache are connected by the neuromuscular function of the masticatory system and the trigeminal nervous system.

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posted by Dr Shapira at 7:59 PM