Why Do I Wake Up With A Headache?

November 26, 2016
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 causes of headaches can depend on when you first feel the discomfort or the intensity of the pain.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the causes of morning headaches.

Why do I wake up with a headache?

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.

Despite the use of pain relievers, the pain may not subside. In fact, there are many cases in which they last all day. Find out the most common causes of morning headaches.

Also see: Relieve Headaches Fast with This Drink

Inflammation of the nasal passages

If the nasal passages behind the nose, eyes and cheekbones are inflamed, your might experience a terrible headache when you sit up to turn off your alarm first thing in the morning.

For these types of cases, you must treat the underlying allergy or infection that’s causing the sinusitis and eliminate the symptoms.

Sleep apnea

sleep apnea, one of the causes of morning headaches

This condition occurs when you have 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 going to bed early).

If you sleep with someone, ask them if you snore of if they’ve noticed anything unusual during the night, as this can be another symptom of this problem.

Sleep disturbances

Emotional and psychological factors can also keep you 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. As a result, we do not get the essential 8 hours of sleep each night. 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 headache the next morning.

Muscle tension

If you don’t get enough sleep, you feel tense or you fall sleep in an awkward position, you may suffer from nightmares or insomnia. The neck and shoulder muscles become tense and put pressure on the skull, causing a headache.

Be sure to sleep on a good mattress with an adequate pillow. This will not only help you sleep better, it will also support the entire spinal column, and most important of 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 (be it 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 the cause of your morning headaches.

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

  • Aspirin
  • Paracetamol
  • Decongestants
  • Pain relievers
  • Narcotics


dehydration, one of the causes of morning headaches

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 that a proper sleeping posture helps the blood circulate properly. As a result, this will also help prevent morning headaches.

High blood pressure and diabetes

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

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

The orientation of your bed

woman with a headache

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. However, there are no studies proving these claims.

Restless leg syndrome

This syndrome is an uncontrollable impulse to move your lower extremities.

It’s one thing that can disturb your sleep because the muscle spasms keep your brain on constant alert. This may leave you with a headache when you wake up. However, there is currently no evidence to prove a connection between the two.

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