A key region in your brain that helps regulate your sleep is called the hypothalamus. The front (anterior) part of your hypothalamus supports your body in falling asleep and staying asleep and the rear (posterior) part of your hypothalamus supports your body in waking up and staying awake. Your hypothalamus plays a role in how your body perceives and controls pain as well. In addition, your hypothalamus is connected to your brain stem, which also plays a role in your sleeping and development of headaches.
Your brain also produces hormones while you sleep that help regulate your body’s functions. For example, the release of certain hormones helps reduce your need to use the restroom while you sleep, while other hormones support growth and tissue repair. If your hormone production is imbalanced, you may have difficulty with sleeping too much or too little, as well as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Interestingly, imbalances in certain hormones are also connected to headaches.
In fact, some of the same brain regions and chemical messengers impact your sleep, headaches, and even mood. Not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep can increase your likelihood of developing headaches. Those headaches can then in turn make it more difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or achieve good quality sleep—creating a vicious cycle. In fact, people who experience migraine headaches and have difficulty getting sufficient sleep often also suffer from depression or anxiety, which can also be triggers for migraines.