With cluster headaches, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and this itself can exacerbate the pain. For our Bend clients, cluster headaches are a real problem, and so getting the right advice could be a game-changer in sorting out their sleep patterns.

At Bend’s Sleep Specialists, we have experience in helping people manage sleep patterns and headaches. Below are some useful tips for approaching cluster headaches in a way that is supportive of healthy sleep.

What are Cluster Headaches?

Cluster headaches are a rare form of headache, which occurs in cyclical bursts or clusters. A person could experience up to 6 headaches per day, each lasting for less than an hour. These clusters usually manifest at particular times of year, with the most common period being the spring or autumn. The headaches are usually only experienced on one side of the head and around the eyes. Other symptoms are typically confined to the same side of the body, such as a stuffy or runny nose, tears, sweating or facial flushing.

Cluster Headaches and Sleep

Cluster headaches are one of the most common causes of sleep disturbance and can seriously impact quality of life. As a result of their cyclical nature, some patients may find it impossible to get high-quality sleep over the course of months at a time.

While there are a great many theories about what could cause cluster headaches, the role of sleep has become more and more widely acknowledged. Many believe that something that goes wrong with the sleep-wake cycle can sometimes trigger episodes of cluster headaches.

Furthermore, even once the cluster has subsided or gone into remission, it can still be hard to get to sleep, set and adhere to regular sleep patterns, and, most importantly, sleep continuously for the full 6-8 hours that is recommended.

Tips for Treating Cluster Headaches and Sleep

As sleep specialists with experience in cluster headache management we have some simple but effective suggestions. We often recommend the following for our Bend clients:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This is an active form of treatment where the sufferer and the therapist work together to identify the subconscious behaviors that might be perpetuating the episode of headaches. This treatment is primarily focused on changing the behaviors, thoughts and attitudes that are negatively impacting the individual’s sleep and headache experiences.

Establishing a Regular Sleep Routine

As boring as it may sound, getting up and going to bed at the same time each day is an essential step in minimizing the impact of cluster headaches on a person’s sleep. Regular sleeping hours that are consistent every day, including weekends, encourage the body to get into a regular sleep routine which can help to prevent the onset of cluster headaches.

At night it’s also a good idea to establish a regular bedtime routine, such as reading a book, having a warm bath, or doing a gentle relaxation practice like meditation or deep breathing exercises, which can all help to promote deep and restful sleep.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Regular physical activity, such as going for a walk or doing a gentle yoga class, is also helpful in preventing cluster headaches. Physical activity promotes deeper, more restful sleep as well and can help to reduce overall stress and anxiety levels, which is an important factor when it comes to minimising the impact of cluster headaches on a person’s sleep.

Other Tips and Tricks

When the headaches do come on, there are also some simple home remedies that could offer some relief. This includes the use of temperature, such as applying hot or cold packs to the affected area, as well as gentle neck stretches and gentle massage therapy.

Get Help in Managing Cluster Headaches and Sleep

Cluster headaches can be extremely painful and are likely to disrupt even the best sleepers. For the best possible outcome, it is important to get the advice and support of a sleep-based professional who understands the unique needs of people who experience cluster headaches. At Bend’s Sleep Specialists, we are committed to helping our clients find the best possible way to manage their cluster headaches and get a good night’s sleep.