Nightmares and snoring can cause headaches in kids, says a new study

New research shows children can grind their teeth during a nightmare, or if they snore, and this can lead to them developing headaches.


You may want to pay closer attention the next time your child wakes you up after he has experienced a nightmare.

Nightmares and snoring can lead to a child developing a headache, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Craniomandibular Practice, which found that nightmares and snoring are linked to bruxism (grinding your teeth at night).

“It is well documented that bruxism can lead to headaches,” says Dr Elliot Shevel, South Africa’s pioneer in the field of migraine surgery and the medical director of The Headache Clinic. “The causes of bruxism are largely unknown, but risk factors are anxiety, stress, caffeine, sleep apnoea, snoring and fatigue.”

ALSO SEE: What is the difference between a headache and a migraine

How the study was conducted

The aim of the study was to investigate the routine, sleep history and orofacial disorders associated with children between the ages of three and seven with nocturnal bruxism (grinding their teeth at night).

Data about the children’s routine during the day, during sleep and awakening, headache frequency, temporomandibular joint and hearing impairments was obtained through interviews with parents and caregivers.

An electromyography examination – a diagnostic procedure to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them – was used to assess the activity of facial muscles. Multiple logistic regression, chi-square test and T-test analyses were also performed.

The findings

“This study confirms that snoring and nightmares may also lead to children grinding their teeth,” says Dr Shevel. This tension in turn can lead to headaches developing.

The causes and treatment for migraines

“We have found that muscle tension in the jaws, face, head and neck are some of the major underlying causes of migraine,” says Dr Shevel. “Parents should consider treating the muscle tension in their kids to prevent migraine pain, while addressing the underlying fear and insecurities causing their child’s nightmares.”

ALSO SEE: Dealing with nightmares

“This knowledge has resulted in our unique muscle treatment methods that restore and maintain the correct relaxed posture of the jaws, head and neck,” he adds.

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