Why You’re Waking Up With Headache

Why You’re Waking Up With Headache ( And the Solution)

Sometimes it’s normal to wake up with a headache in the morning. It can be caused for a variety of reasons, but mostly fatigue and inadequate night rest.

However, when the morning headaches become frequent or turn into intense and persistent migraine episodes, it’s time to look for help and tackle some other potential causes.

In this article we’re going to discuss why are you waking up with a headache and try to provide adequate help for solving this problem.

Types Of Headaches You May Be Experiencing

Headache type
Terry Cralle, RN

There are different types of headaches and each one of them can produce a different kind of response or pain. Some headaches are dull and persistent, while some cause sharp and throbbing episodes that feel unbearable and can even lead to nausea and vomiting.

Furthermore, different types of headaches can range in terms of duration.

For example, some people could experience headaches for a few minutes to an hour. In worse cases, a headache can last up to a few days.

The treatment also differs. For some people letting it pass with a glass of lemonade or a cup of tea will suffice, while for others, it may take analgetics or even injections to get rid of a headache.

Here are the types of headaches that could be associated with waking up with a headache.

  • Tension headache
  • Migraine
  • Hypnic headache
  • Cluster Headache
  • Medication Overuse Headache
  • Paroxysmal Hemicrania

If you’re worried you’re alone among those who are waking up with a headache, you aren’t. One in 13 people wake up with a morning headache, according to a study.

According to the study, anything could cause those headaches, from simple changes in hormones and physiology to numbness as a result of an odd sleeping position. Additionally, some people experience lower internal pain reduction which may result in headaches.

If you suffer from migraines after waking up, your body likely produces more adrenaline during the early morning hours which then triggers the dreading pain. Another reason why are you waking up with a headache is because of lack of sleep or a sleep disorder which disrupts your biological clock and causes headaches.

Another report by Sleep.org discovered that sleep disorders cause headaches up to eight times more compared to those without sleep disorders.

Also Read: Can Sleep Apnea Cause Migraines?

Why Are You Waking Up With a Headache?

In this section we’ll analyze the top causes of morning headaches, and below we’ll help about treating them both with the help of a specialist and on your own.


Terry Cralle, RN

Snoring is responsible for a lot of morning discomforts, and one of the most common ones is a headache. People who snore loud can often disrupt their sleep, affecting their dreams and the sleep level.

Snoring is often responsible for lack of deep sleep which is the most restorative sleep phase there is. Snoring significantly decreases when you turn on your side, but it’s a large indicator of morning headaches.

Sleep Apnea

How Does Sleep Apnea Impact the Brain
Terry Cralle, RN

Snoring is also a symptom of sleep apnea, of which the most common one is obstructive sleep apnea, which causes temporary blockage of airways causing snoring or gasping for air. When the airway gets blocked, mainly as a result of sleeping on the back, obesity, or thick neck, the person temporarily stops breathing which causes strong gasping for air and disrupts the sleep.

While Sleep Apnea is still a thing of debate, you can treat it using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP machine) which assists your breathing through the night. Additionally, some studies found that losing weight can significantly minimize sleep apnea symptoms.

The good news also is that headaches associated with sleep apnea won’t last for more than 30 to 45 minutes after waking up.

Also Read: How Does Sleep Apnea Impact the Brain?

Anxiety or Depression

sleep anxiety
Terry Cralle, RN

Mental disorders can also be responsible for our sleep activity and cause persistent morning headaches. One such disorder includes depression and anxiety, which are one of the leading reasons why are you waking up with a headache. Medical experts reported in a study that chronic morning headaches were maximized thanks to conditions like the mentioned two disorders.

If you feel that you haven’t been yourself lately and want to seek professional help, you should contact a mental therapist to communicate the causes of headaches. While conditions like depression may involve stronger therapy using medication and different mixtures of treatments, sometimes having a heartfelt talk therapy will help you get your fears off your chest and help your sleeping disorder.

More: How to Fall Asleep with Anxiety: 23 Proven Mind Tricks

Here are some online services you can contact for these problems. Some are free, while some include a fee and free trial:


Insomnia headache
Terry Cralle, RN

Insufficient amount of sleep can lead to insomnia, while both can lead to morning headaches. Insomnia can be dangerous because it penetrates through your sleeping patterns and disrupts them. When we’re sleep-deprived, we’re likely to develop morning headaches, some of which can last very long. Insomnia works by keeping you up when you’re trying to sleep, waking you up while you’re asleep, or causing restless sleep even while you’re asleep.

Insomnia doesn’t only cause intense morning headaches, but it can also lead to long term migraine headaches. To treat insomnia, you first need to recognize it, mostly with the help of your doctor or therapist. To be 100% sure that the right diagnosis has been established, your doctor will suggest you track sleeping patterns.

There are numerous ways to treat insomnia, some include using medicines, while others combine different therapies. As you notice that your sleep deprivation is reducing, you’ll also notice you’ll be having headaches much less.

Tooth Grinding

Tooth Grinding headache
Terry Cralle, RN

Bruxism or tooth grinding can also be a result of intense morning headaches and on rare occasions it can cause migraines. It can be a sleep disorder or it can occur as a result of toothache caused by wearing braces. Some people who experienced this kind of headache reported that it feels dull while at times it can affect the temples. It’s important to note that there can be a link between the aforementioned sleep apnea and bruxism.

It can have long-term implications on your overall health because it can result in teeth damage or jaw pain. You can fix it utilizing stress management techniques, behavioral analysis, or in most common situations using mouth guard or retainers.

Muscle Injury

Some people may be experiencing morning headaches as a result of a muscle or ligament injury as well as strained neck muscles. For people experiencing this problem, the best solution to the problem would be to readjust and think of a more comfortable sleep position. These headaches don’t last long and should disappear once the injury recovers.

Wrong Choice of Pillow

It’s important to note that muscle strain in the neck can sometimes lead to headaches as a result of an old and worn-out pillow. That said, if you notice that time and changing sleep position don’t yield good results, perhaps you should consider adding or removing pillows that will help the body conform. On some occasions, you may need an entirely new pillow.

The right pillow can be extremely difficult to find but it will help you maintain a proper and healthy sleeping position that will conform to your neck and spine, keeping them in a neutral position. However, finding the right pillow that can meet your demands can be extremely difficult so it may take some testing and trial. Some premium companies offer sleeping trial so if you aren’t afraid to spend an additional buck, you should be fine finding a good pillow.

The pillow should keep you in a neutral position which also means that you’ll be in such a position that the neck and spine are positions just as if you’re standing. If you’re springing for such experience try to look for a firmer pillow, but not too hard as they can make things even worse.

More: Sutera Sleep Pillow Review: Answer of Neck/Shoulder Pain?

Alcohol Abuse

Those who frequently drink and even abuse alcohol and medication late in the night may easily wake up with throbbing headaches and migraines. Strong medication, especially in combination with alcohol may hinder your sleep patterns and daily activities because the headache will be too strong to perform any daily activities.

What’s worse, intense alcohol abuse can result in inadequate sleeping duration and promote unhealthy sleep. One of the most common morning headaches is caused by hangover.

More: How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?

Other Causes

Some people experience morning headaches as a result of another health condition which can affect sleep quality or manifest in any other way. Headaches can also be a result of other factors that aren’t caused by sleep patterns or disorders. People with hypertension and musculoskeletal conditions can also be experiencing the morning headache.

It’s extremely important to communicate all the issues with your family members as well as your doctor as early diagnosis, as well as correct one can be the key of treating the condition in the early stage and restoring your sleep where you won’t have to worry about waking up with a throbbing or dull headache.

How to Treat Morning Headache?

There are ways to treat or minimize the morning headache alone, by introducing lifestyle changes that could lead to its improvement. However, to better be safe than sorry, it’s best to consult with a doctor or a therapist in case your headaches are caused by a mental disorder. Once the specialist determines the cause of headaches, they can easily create a good plan that will help you treat it.

What you can do at home includes the following:

Lasting And Restful Sleep

Headaches are often a cause of inadequate sleep patterns. That’s why the first step to eliminate the headache should start from our sleep pattern. Getting enough sleep can work wonders on your lifestyle and productivity. First and foremost, it should help you get rid of persistent headaches. That means sleeping from seven to eight hours, not less, and no longer than ten hours a day as that can also be the cause of morning headaches.

Also Read: How Much Deep Sleep Do You Need?

Creating A Sleep Routine

Creating a healthy and effective sleeping routine should help you wake up rested, free of any kind of headaches. That means establishing adequate sleeping and waking up times. According to some research, the best practice is to go to sleep at 10 pm and waking up at 6 am. Moreover, experts recommend going to sleep before midnight as there’s belief doing so prologs your restfulness.

More: 8 Useful Tips: How to Reset Sleep Schedule?

Soothing Sleep Environment

Sleep environment plays an extremely important role in providing long and restful sleep, as well as helping you get rid of the morning headaches. For example, you should sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet room and avoid any kind of noise or light source that could have negative effects on you the next morning. Those who like humming noise can install a white noise machine that will help you fall asleep and maintain a healthy cycle.

More: Best Colors for Your Bedroom According to Science

Limit The Screen Time

Believe it or not, the blue light emitted by your smartphone and other devices dictate how your rest will be. Many doctors associate morning headaches to excessive phone use before sleep, the blue light emitted from the screen makes you feel more awake and makes you have difficulties falling asleep.

Avoid Large Meals

Large meals can disrupt your sleeping patterns by making your metabolism and digestive system more active throughout the night, resulting in inadequate sleeping patterns and potential headaches after waking up. Similarly like with cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, you should also avoid large meals just before bedtime.

The results should almost come imminent, the metabolism will be less active at times, letting your brain rest and engage in deep sleep pattern. Remember that too deep of sleep can also lead to headaches when waking up, which is why it’s important to find the right balance to wake up sufficiently rested with no discomfort.

More: 14 Best Foods To Eat Before Bed For Better Sleep

Other Methods

One of the last resorts you can refer to is using a larger and taller pillow, or more than one of them.

If you currently can’t afford a larger pillow, another solution you can use is to place a few books under the pillow which would elevate your head up, and keep your head up during sleep.

If you sleep on your back, there will be an increased blood flow towards brain, which allows more oxygen to access to the brain and help with resting.

When you don’t know what could possibly be causing the headache, maybe you should mix a few ways together to find out. Polysomnography, also known as sleep study is one of the ways. It includes a number of tests which examines the sleeping activity and sleeping zones. It can also be tested for different sleeping disorders which can affect the occurrence of morning headaches.

What are your ways to minimize or prevent morning headaches? Please leave a comment!

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One Comment

  1. I find it concerning to learn that if you happen to wake up every morning with headaches, you might be experiencing mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. My sister told me that this has been happening to her a lot frequently. I’ll recommend that she visit a medical clinic that can help her with her headaches.

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