Morning Headaches: Why Am I Waking Up With Headaches?

5 min read
5 min read

Do you often have a headache when you wake up? Every 1 out of 13 people wakes up with headaches. Generally, morning headaches affect women more than men and are frequently associated with the 45 to 64 age group. A pounding headache, that too in the morning makes it more challenging to get up from your bed. 

What causes headaches? There can be many reasons for morning headaches everyday—health problems, eating habits, lifestyle, to name a few.  Continue reading to learn everything about waking up with a headache.

What Causes Morning Headaches?

Why do I wake up with a headache? There can be numerous causes of headaches. It could be your lifestyle habits, health problems, diet, alcohol consumption, teeth grinding, or anything else. 

When you transition from sleep to wakefulness, some parts of your brain begin to wake up. Your brain becomes more sensitive to changes in your body and your surroundings. In this hypersensitivity period, you are more prone to pain and get a headache after waking up. 

Here’s a list of a few other reasons for headaches.

1. Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects between 2 to 9% of adults. Sleep apnea or snoring causes you to stop breathing at times during the night. This might cause a headache the following day. To cure this problem, you can use equipment like a continuous positive airway pressure machine. Headaches from sleep apnea usually last within 30 minutes.

Symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Dry mouth
  • Moodiness
  • Snoring
  • Frequent urge to pee at night and more.

2. Insomnia

Insomnia prevents you from getting quality sleep or sleep at all during the night. Sleep deprivation is a significant cause of morning headaches. Curing insomnia can lead to better sleep and eventually improvement in morning headaches. 

To cure insomnia, consult a doctor. They might advise you to track your sleep patterns, take medicines, or get therapy.

3. Circadian Rhythm Disorders

 Circadian Rhythm Disorder makes you more prone to morning headaches. Misalignment with the standard sleep-wake cycle can cause  Circadian Rhythm Disorders. This misalignment leads to improper sleep, and hence the headaches as a result. 

4. Migraine

Migraine can be one of the causes of morning headaches for your morning headaches. In the US, 29.5 million Americans have migraines. This throbbing headache resists you from functioning properly. 50% of the people with migraines or other tension-type headaches have insomnia. 

5. Oversleeping

Oversleeping is not as fun and refreshing as it sounds. Both sleep deprivation, as well as a long sleep, are associated with headaches in the morning. Headache from sleeping too much is a possibility. An ideal sleeping duration is  7-9 hours

6. Hangover

Drinking heavily can cause disturbed sleep and severe morning headaches. Even having less than six drinks can affect your sleep and lead to headaches. 

Usually, alcohol makes you sleep faster, but you get disturbed sleep. It may even lead to waking up with a headache in the middle of the night. Alcohol increases the urge to urinate and loss of fluid, which generally results in dehydration. Headache is a common side effect of dehydration. 

7. Tension

What causes tension headaches? Your sleeping position can create tension in your body. This can lead to poor sleep. It can lead to waking up with headaches and neck pain. To avoid pressure, you can use a supportive pillow and mattress. 

8. Bruxism or Teeth Grinding

Grinding your teeth or bruxism can cause a mild headache in the morning. Some people deal with this disorder at night, also known as sleep bruxism. 

Teeth grinding can also be related to other disorders like sleep apnea. It may cause teeth damage, jaw pain, and of course, headache the following day. You can cure bruxism by using a mouth guard or stress reduction techniques.

9. Medications and Supplements

Medications and supplements can interfere with your sleep, causing disturbed sleep at night. Headaches can also be a side effect of certain medications. Withdrawing from a prescription can also result in headaches. 

Medications that can cause headaches to include:

  • Anti-anxiety medicines
  • Aspirin
  • Opioids
  • Paracetamol, and more.

10. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)

The primary role of TMJ is to attach your jaw to your skull. Pain in this joint or the surrounding area by activities like bruxism, chewing gum, and alike can lead to a severe headache. 

11. Tumor

Morning headaches and nausea can be troublesome. Regular severe headaches might make you google if it’s a tumor. Most probably, it’s not a tumor. 5 in 1,00,000 people are diagnosed with tumors every year. 

Signs of a tumor:

  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Concentration problems
  • Seizures
  • Speech problems
  • Vision-related problems
  • Swelling around the eye
  • Weakness
  • Severe, changing, constant headaches

Consult a doctor soon if you have any of these symptoms.

12. Strained Muscles

Strained muscles in your neck can cause headaches. You can use proper pillows and change your sleeping position to relieve the pain. Try different pillows and find the one that’s most suitable for you. 

Treatment for Headaches in the Morning

If you have headaches every morning, consult your doctor. 

But how to cure headache at home? Identify the trigger for your headaches, and prepare a diagnosis plan. You can record your symptoms and sleeping habits in a sleep diary to help your doctor. 

Other than that, you can take care of your sleep hygiene.

  • Consistent Sleep Schedule

If you keep waking up with headaches, get enough sleep, at least 7-8 hours. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time daily. 

  • Minimize Caffeine and Alcohol

Having alcohol or coffee in the evening can keep you awake all night. As a result, it can lead to waking up with bad headaches.

  • Exercise Daily

Make sure you work out several hours before you try to sleep. Being active around bedtime can resist you from sleeping. 

  • Control Your Environment

Your sleep environment should be quiet, dark, and calm. Use an eye make, or listen to white noise if you cannot control your surroundings for some reason. 

When to See a Doctor

You can cure your morning headaches by following a good sleeping routine and taking care of your diet. However, if you still have headaches and have persistent symptoms and severe pain, it’s time to see a doctor. Record your sleeping habits and symptoms in a sleep diary to help the doctor understand your problem. 

Conclusion

It’s annoying when you wake up with a headache, but luckily, it’s curable. Good sleeping hygiene and treatment can minimize your headache or completely cure them. If nothing helps you, consult a doctor to determine a treatment for your headache. 

Yes, when you are dehydrated, the brain can temporarily contract. This causes the brain to pull away from the skull, causing a dehydration headache. 

Yes, being hungry for long periods can result in headaches. When you are hungry, your blood sugar level drops. A hungry stomach can also trigger a migraine.

Yes, alcohol causes migraines. Alcohol can make you sleep quickly, but you experience disturbed sleep throughout the night. The following day, you wake up with a pounding headache.  

Yes, anxiety headaches are common. Anxiety can cause stress and worry, which can give you tension headaches. 

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Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

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Sleep Coach

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Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

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Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians