Common Causes of Morning Headaches

Knowing what triggers headaches is fundamental in preventing them. If your headaches are recurring and don't correspond to any of the causes below, you'll need to see your doctor.

Headaches or migraines are uncomfortable any time of day. The cause can depend on when the discomfort or intensity is first felt.

If it feels like a drum is beating at your temples when you first wake up, or you’re dizzy or unable to open your eyes, it would be a good idea to see your doctor.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the reasons why morning headaches occur.

Why do I wake up with a headache?

Many people end up seeing their doctor after they can no longer tolerate the pain of their morning headaches.

Despite the use of pain relievers, the pain may not remit and there are many cases in which they last all day. The most common causes of morning headaches are:

See also: Relieve Headaches Fast with This Drink

Inflammation of the nasal passages

When the nasal passages behind the nose, eyes and cheekbones are inflamed, it can cause a painful headache.

For these types of cases, the underlying allergy or infection that’s causing the problem must be treated to eliminate the symptoms.

Sleep apnea


This condition is defined as momentary pauses in breathing while sleeping.

Because the brain isn’t receiving any oxygen during this time, it can cause you to wake up with a headache. Classic signs of sleep apnea include dark circles under the eyes and excessive tiredness (despite getting enough sleep).

If you sleep with someone, ask them if you snore as this can be another symptom of this problem.

Sleep disturbances

Aside from apnea, which is a clinical condition, emotional and psychological factors can also prevent us from sleeping properly.

Stress, everyday worries and anxiety can alter the quality of your sleep. Many of us go to bed really late, only to get up early the next morning (not getting our necessary 8 hours of sleep each night) and this also affects the quality of our sleep.

Negative emotions and recurring nightmares can also cause migraines.

Outside lights and noises (a dripping faucet, a street light, a blaring television, snoring, etc.) disturb the quality of your sleep, giving you a morning headache.

Muscle tension

If you don’t get enough sleep, are tense or sleep in a poor position, you may suffer from nightmares or insomnia. The muscles of the neck and shoulders become tense and put pressure on the skull, causing a headache.

Be sure to sleep on a good mattress with an appropriate pillow. This will not only help you sleep better, it will also support the entire spinal column, above all the cervical vertebra.

Overuse of medication

Basically we’re referring to the drugs designed to alleviate headaches. When the pain occurs two or more times a week, it’s not uncommon to turn to medication (prescription or over the counter).

Overuse of pain relievers produces a counterproductive side effect. This means that the same medications that you take to relieve pain could also be responsible for causing painful headaches.

These types of drugs should be reduced or avoided if you wanted to prevent morning headaches:

  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen
  • Decongestants
  • Pain relievers
  • Narcotics



It’s a good idea to make sure you’re properly hydrated before evening. Even though the body isn’t as active as it is during the day, it still needs to be properly hydrated.

When you don’t drink enough water, the blood vessels in the head contract to balance fluid levels in the body. This makes it difficult to properly oxygenate the blood and causes headaches.

Grinding your teeth

Bruxism is a very common condition in children (although it also occurs in adults) and is popularly referred to as “grinding” your teeth while sleeping.

This unconscious habit tenses the jaw muscles, causing pain and discomfort in the morning.

Poor sleeping posture

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep is sleeping in an unnatural position.

This means that if you sleep “balled up” or in a strange position, not only will your head hurt the next morning, but so will your back, neck and shoulders, etc.

Keep your neck straight and try to sleep on your back or side. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Don’t forget the proper sleeping posture helps the blood circulate properly which will also help prevent morning headaches.

High blood pressure and diabetes

Both conditions can trigger a migraine in the morning. This is due to that fact that, in both conditions, the blood vessels constrict, blood pressure increases and muscles tense, especially in the head.

You should read: 6 Natural Remedies for Alleviating Low Blood Pressure

Orientation of the bed


We’re referring to the teachings of the ancient discipline of feng shui. According to this philosophy, the head of the bed should always point towards the north in order to promote proper rest and relaxation during the night.

This may have a basis in science: the earth’s magnetic field is thought to act as a magnet on us as we sleep.

Restless legs

This syndrome is described as an uncontrollable impulse to move the lower extremities.

It’s one cause of sleep disturbance as the muscle spasms keep the brain on constant alert. This can leave you with a headache when you wake up.

If you suffer from nausea, vomiting or blurry vision on top of headaches, we suggest you see your doctor.

You May Like