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Can too Much Sleep be the Reason for Headache?

Too much of anything is bad. As happy as one can be sleeping in a warm, soft bed, the idea of actually blaming extra sleep for bad health may sound wrong. But it can be true, say the scientists.
SleepHearty Staff
If you may have noticed, these kinds of headaches occur mostly on Sundays and Mondays when you tend to sleep a lot more than the rest of the week. Also called "sleep hangovers", according to research, over-sleeping is to be blamed for headaches that attack you as soon as you wake up. When the body is in a sleeping state, several chemical changes take place. One of these is the fluctuation in the level of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that occur in the brain during sleep.

Understanding Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, popularly referred to as the "happiness hormone", which is responsible for behavioral changes, regulating bone weight and promoting cell repair. It acts as a vasoconstrictor to prevent bleeding and regulate brain functions like learning, memorizing as well as sleeping. During excessive sleeping, serotonin works overtime. Due to the vasoconstriction function of the brain, serotonin causes constriction of blood vessels that expand and inflame arteries in the brain. This ultimately results in a pulsating headache.

Understanding Sleep Cycles
The relationship between sleeping too much and the induced headache can also be explained with a different theory. When you sleep, the body tries to finish one normal sleep cycle with a lot of rapid eye movement as per your duration of sleep on a regular basis. When the body completes this cycle but you extend the duration of your sleep, it starts another cycle. However, it is not always possible to sleep for the duration taken for the second sleep cycle to complete. When you wake up before this second cycle ends, your body is in a stage of deep sleep. Also, sleeping for prolonged periods will decrease the amount of oxygen intake of your body. This can also lead to obstructive sleep apnea. If your body is not sleep deprived and you have over-slept, you will have a throbbing headache. This explains the reason that not everyone has a headache after sleeping for prolonged periods.

Suggestions to Avoid Over-Sleeping
  • Take adequate sleep during weekdays to try to stop oversleeping on weekends.
  • Take an afternoon nap for less than half an hour.
  • Practice relaxation exercises before sleeping.
  • Keep a check on your stress levels.
  • Hydrate yourself and drink a glass of water before you sleep as well as after you wake up. You can also buy a humidifier.
Relief Measures from a Sleep Hangover
  • Drink water after you wake up and hit the bathroom immediately.
  • Sprinkle cold water on your face, especially your eyes.
  • Take an aspirin as it causes blood thinning and will help unclog arteries in your head.
  • Avoid any kind of intake of caffeine. Have a protein shake instead, which will help you recover quickly.
  • Try to sleep with your mouth closed else you will be a lot more dehydrated when you wake up.
  • Keep your head on an elevated level as compared to your body to avoid too much blood circulating to your brain while sleeping.
Did you know? Sleeping more than 9 hours can increase your risk of being diabetic by 50% than others. Not to forget, over 20% of those who oversleep are also obese. Over-sleeping slows down metabolism, makes you feel dull and will definitely give you a palpitating headache that may last throughout the day. Oversleeping has also been associated with high risk of suffering from depression, diabetes and cardiac problems. Although having enough sleep is important for the body to recover from fatigue and function well, it is not healthy to prolong your sleeping hours that exceed 8 hours unless you are suffering from extreme exhaustion or a disorder. If you are sleeping too much, consult a doctor and get it treated soon.