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Waking up with a headache

Mornings are supposed to be a time of refreshment where you shrug off sleep and rise to meet the day. It is therefore unhelpful when, instead of waking up ready to face the world, you find yourself held back by a pulsing, pounding, or stabbing pain in your head.

Unfortunately, headaches are not created equal and there are a number of different causes that can be behind your pain. By paying attention to the type of pain, its location, and other associated symptoms, you can better narrow down your exact affliction and properly treat it.

Headaches come in all shapes and sizes from mild throbs to nausea-inducing agonies. Often, the symptoms can be used to indicate what the cause of the headache is. Although one of the most common headache typestension headaches are not entirely understood.

They present themselves with a dull, aching form of head pain and a feeling of tightness or pressure on the forehead, sides, or back of the head that is sometimes likened to being clamped in a vice.

The scalp, neck, and shoulder muscles may also be tender. Tension headaches can sometimes be mistaken for migraines but it is possible to differentiate the two. Stress, depression, and anxiety are sometimes cited as causes of tension headaches but specific triggers have yet to be identified.

Tension headaches tend to be worse during the morning hours. Being sleep deprived affects blood pressurehormone production, anxiety, stress, and a host of other elements throughout your body. This little stew of discomfort can sometimes manifest as head pain. The morning headache caused by insomnia feels sore and strained and slightly heavy. It is a sign of weariness and pressure from not having enough time to recharge. Besides insomnia, most forms of sleep disorder or disturbance, including too much sleep, can lead to headaches.

This is similar to what happens when your sleep posture leaves you with a morning headache—you have spent the night putting pressure and stress on part of your neck or shoulders and this can lead to you waking up with a sore skull.

It is not too surprising that being unconscious for six to eight hours without food causes your blood sugar to drop.

Among diabetics, this can lead to a hypoglycemic headache either during the night or upon rising. Some migraine sufferers find that hunger or low blood sugar can also bring on an episode, leaving them waking up in the middle of an attack. If you grind your teeth in your sleep, the vibrations will travel up your skeleton and affect your shoulders, neck, and head, often leading to morning headaches and a sore jaw.

These are known to be among the most painful types of headaches and have a habit of waking you up in the middle of the night or early morning. The intense pain of a cluster headache—described as a sharp, penetrating burn—usually focuses around one eye but can radiate outwards to other areas of the face, neck, and shoulders.

Sweaty, pale skina stuffed or runny nose on the same side of the face as the eye, and swelling of the eye are common symptoms. Attacks of cluster headaches can last up to twelve weeks and some occur seasonally.

During this period, attacks can occur daily, often at night, and last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours.

waking up with a headache

Although there is no known cause of cluster headaches and they lack known triggers, drinking alcohol during episodes can trigger a splitting headache and complicate the problem.

As you have likely noticed, morning headaches can have a number of different causes and all can be treated in different ways.

Icy-hot patches are capable of penetrating the skin and relieving aches, making them ideal for treating morning headaches induced by posture, teeth grinding, or other musculoskeletal-related causes.

Try using one either after getting up or while trying to return to sleep. Sometimes your headache can be eased by a good bowl of cereal, especially if hunger or blood sugar is the culprit.

If you find yourself regularly experiencing hunger or blood sugar-related morning headaches, consider adjusting some of your evening eating habits.

Pushing dinner back an hour or even having something small to eat like that bowl of cereal just before bed can keep your body sustained until morning. Hydration can also play into your headaches. Few people in the U. Some headaches are characterized by having the blood vessels in the head dilate. Cold temperatures have a vasoconstrictive effect—they cause blood vessels to narrow.Headaches and sleep disorders often go hand in hand. Discover how headaches are related to sleep troubles — and how to treat these headache triggers.

When you have a pounding headachebeing unconscious might sound like a nice alternative. But what happens when sleep itself is the trigger for your aching head?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.

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Headaches and sleep problems are partners in crime. Headaches and slumber troubles are linked in a variety of ways. Being sleep deprived can make you more likely to develop a tension headache during the day.

Foldvary-Schaefer explains. Lack of shuteye can also turn up the volume on other types of headaches. Foldvary-Schaefer says. People with sleep apnea stop breathing off and on for short periods during the night. Snoring is the symptom most commonly associated with sleep apnea. But sleep apnea headaches are also surprisingly common, Dr. People usually describe apnea-related headaches as pressing pain that occurs on both sides of the head.

They differ from migraines, which often cause pulsing pain on one side or the other and are usually accompanied by nausea or other symptoms.

They can happen every night, sometimes more than once a night. Hypnic headaches are something of a mystery, says Dr. Yes, there is a disorder called exploding head syndrome. Although it would make a great story if it were.

This sleep disorder causes a person to hear an imaginary crash or exploding sound in the hazy moments between wake and sleep. But the link between headaches and sleep problems is fairly straightforward — and mostly treatable. Waking Up With a Headache? Share this article via email with one or more people using the form below. Send me expert insights each week in Health Essentials News.

Learn more about vaccine availability. Advertising Policy. You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter. Related Articles. Trending Topics.There is a lot going on in the world around us. It is important to understand why you are waking up with a headache so that you can either prevent it or find a solution. To help, we have compiled five reasons why you may be waking up with a headache or migraine.

If you have a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea, you are actually two to eight times more likely to develop a morning headache. One way to overcome insomnia is to follow proper sleep hygiene practices. Those can include maintaining a consistent sleep-wake routine, sleeping in a cool and dark room, and limiting time on your phone or watching TV. A risk factor for insomnia is depression. To add to that, if you have anxiety, you may have trouble putting your mind at ease at nighttime.

Instead, thoughts constantly twirl around in your head, causing you to stay awake for hours at a time. Both depression and anxiety can cause poor sleep, leading to morning headaches. If you suffer from untreated depression or anxiety, that may be a sign that you should seek treatment. Does your bed partner snore?

Do they say that you snore? Either way, sleep apnea is often characterized by multiple arousals and awakenings through the night. This can impair your ability to get into that deep sleep, which allows you a more restful sleep. If you suffer from sleep apnea, morning headaches are actually a defining symptom. It is vital that you seek treatment for sleep apnea before it leads to further complications such as cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. If you are sleeping in a certain position, it can increase your chances of developing a morning headache.

When you sleep on your back, it can encourage snoring, which can lead to headaches.

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Instead of laying on your back, try rolling over to your side. Another reason why you are waking up with a headache is that you are grinding or clenching your teeth at night. That repeat pressure and strain from clenching and grinding leads to that painful morning headache you are trying to avoid. The more you grind your teeth, the more you wake up with headaches.Health conditions, sleep disorders, alcohol and medication misuse, muscle strain, and dietary factors such as caffeine are all possible culprits for an early morning headache.

Sleep, headache, and mood are influenced by the same chemical messengers and regions of the brain. Therefore, morning headaches can also be accompanied by feelings of anxiousness and depression. If you find that your days begin with a headache more often than not, it may be time to look for answers.

waking up with a headache

Before you can learn how not to wake up with a headache, you need to understand some of the primary causes of early morning headaches. Those who experience headaches are more likely to receive a sleep disorder diagnosis compared to the general population. Headaches may be associated with a disruption in REM sleep or the workings of the hypothalamus gland. Beyond sleep disorders, many other physical and mental issues can play a part in your not-so-pleasant early morning wake-up call.

For those prone to migraine headaches, poor sleep quality is a notable trigger, and so is too much sleep. Compared to a typical morning headache, migraines are usually much more intense. Other types of headache disorders, such as hypnic and cluster headaches, may occur during sleep rather than upon awakening. Chronic insomnia, unlike acute insomnia, lasts longer than a month. Over time, a lack of consistent sleep exacerbates sleep deprivation and headaches.

Insomnia can be associated with other risk factors common to people who have headaches, such as:. Your insomnia could be a symptom of another problem.

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If sleep deprivation is affecting your mental and physical well-being, seek help from a doctor. Medications and therapy are available. Persistent worry and feelings of hopelessness also disrupt sleep, which in turn can cause headaches. Anxiety and depression can be associated with other medical conditions that cause morning headaches.

People with migraine are also 2.Waking up with a headache in the morning, simply put, sucks. The good news is that there are ways to narrow down the possible cause of why you get headaches all the time. So, why do you get a headache in the morning? It can be attributed to many possible causes—it could be dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, poor sleeping habits, or worse, a sleep disorder.

Bad Pillow Specifically, bad neck support. Alternatively, using too many pillows can leave your head propped up and neck bent during the night, further promoting a tension headache. This repetitive motion places stress on the mouth and facial muscles, which may explain why you get headaches so often.

Pregnancy Among the many, many effects pregnancy has on the body, one of them is increased blood volume and circulation.

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This can result in pressures that lead to getting headaches a lot of the time. Alternatively, the increased blood flow and volume cannot cause morning headaches on its own, but may make any existing headaches felt more strongly. If you find yourself routinely getting under four hours of sleep each night, the deprivation can give you a banging headache in the morning.

Caffeine Withdrawal This most commonly applies to caffeine, but technically it can happen with other substances as well. For some, this duration is enough to trigger the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal and the timing means you could be waking up with a bad headache every day and not realizing the cause. Oh, and caffeine is a diuretic, so it can contribute to dehydration, another cause of headaches. Alcohol is also a vasodilator, so it makes blood vessels widen and throws your circulation off, which can further contribute to your headaches.

Medication One of the ironies of pain medication is that it can sometimes cause morning headaches all on its own.

What happens is your body gets too used to being in the medicated state, which results in suffering a headache when the medicine wears off. If your medication schedule means it wears off during the night, the result will be waking up with a headache every morning. Sinuses The sinuses are little pockets in your skull that manage pressure and certain fluid drainages along your face. Various situations ranging from illness sinus infection or the pressure imposed by a sleep position can impair their ability to drain or make them swell.

Regardless of cause, the result is that you find yourself waking up with a sinus headache. Blood Sugar Barring certain forms of sleepwalking, you are not going to be eating while you sleep. Depending on what your habits are during the day, this can result in your blood sugar levels dropping enough during the night that you wake up with a hypoglycemic headache.

Sleep apnea is a condition where you actually stop breathing for brief periods during the night. Sleep apnea has two forms: obstructive and central.

5 reasons you may be waking up with a headache

In obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles in your throat are relaxing enough to block off your airway during the night.Keep waking up with a pounding in your skull you can't shift? Bored of starting your day with a dull ache in your temples?

You're not alone. Waking up with a headache is actually way more common than you'd think. According to doctor Steve Allder, consultant neurologist at Re:Cognition Healthwhile you shouldn't be expecting to wake up with a morning headache, they do affect one in thirteen people. When you think about it, that's quite a lot. So why do you get morning headaches, and what's the easiest way to shift them, if they've become an annoying part of your day-to-day morning routine? We spoke to a neurologist and a psychologist to get the low-down.

Here's the inside scoop, plus their top tips on how to manage your AM headaches. One good thing about suffering from primary headaches?

So if you're suffering from these, you don't need to worry about having an underlying health condition with headaches being the main symptom. Often, morning headaches can originate because of lifestyle factors, says Allder. Conditions like insomniawhere you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or sleep apnoea, where your breathing stops while you sleep, can typically make any primary headaches worse and longer-lasting.

Struggling with your mental health at the moment, too? You are not alone. Know that conditions such as depression and anxiety can lead to insomnia and increase your risk of morning headaches, Allder adds.

Why Do I Get a Headache in the Morning?

Certain medications can interfere with sleep patterns and, as a result, cause headaches, according to the doctor. If you're worried new antibiotics or medication is playing a part in your persistent morning headaches, it's always worth booking an appointment with your GP to chat through your options. Been drinking more regularly over the past year? Yeah, us too - a regular tipple of an evening became the norm during the first lockdown, for the one in five people who told Alcohol Change that they were drinking more, anyway.

Sadly, booze isn't so great for good sleep hygiene. Bear with us on this one: while primary headaches normally don't indicate a more serious underlying health condition, they can indicate minor body changes, such as food allergies or hormonal changes. Essentially, there's a whole range of things that could be triggering your AM headaches, so if you're not sure what's causing it, it's likely worth visiting your GP.

Why Do I Wake Up With a Headache Every Morning?

But these types of headaches tend to be experienced throughout the whole day and not necessarily specific to morning times, she points out. Her advice?

Book a doctor's appointment or consider seeing a psychologist to work through the things that are making you stressed. If you are stressed, you might be carrying tension physically, explains doctor Allder. Before you can decide which treatment's best for you, it's important to understand what's causing the headaches, stressed Allder.

He recommends keeping a headache diary - including food and water intake, alcoholmedication, exercise and stress levels, as well as times of day - and booking an appointment to discuss with your doctor. Establishing a good sleep routine and practicing good sleep hygiene is vital, Touroni stresses.Morning headaches are a surefire way to get your day off to a rough start.

And, he says, they can happen for a variety of different reasons. Lack of sleep is a big trigger of headaches in general, and studies have shown that morning headaches often come alongside sleep disorders like insomnia. Like a lot of things on this list, preventing morning headaches that are symptomatic of insomnia starts with getting to the root of the problem.

According to the Mayo Clinicinsomnia can be both its own primary problem or a side effect of other conditions. Plenty of things can cause chronic insomnia, from certain mental disorders to stress and poor sleep habits.

To get to the bottom of your insomnia and possibly your headachestalk to your doctor. Sleep apneaa potentially serious condition that causes people to repeatedly stop breathing during their sleep, can cause you to wake up with a headache.

waking up with a headache

The headache is due to lack of oxygen and increased pressure that can develop in your head due to the condition, Vernon Williams, M. Williams says. Migraines can occur at any time, but plenty of people develop them overnight or early in the morning. Not only that, but studies have pointed toward migraines following a cycle, meaning people who have migraines typically get them in the same window of time.

Sachdev says. The key is to identify your triggers—stress, poor sleep, and diet are some of the biggies, he says—and avoid them as much as you can. This normally happens in people who have multiple cups of coffee throughout the day, but it can happen to anyone, Dr.

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Caffeine may impact blood flow to the brain, Dr. A big part of that: a raging headache. And since many people drink coffee in the morning, it can come on first thing.

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To combat caffeine-withdrawal headaches, try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon, Jennifer Kriegler, M. She recommends having a quarter cup of decaf with the rest regular, and gradually decreasing how much caffeine you have over time. Grinding your teeth can cause tension in your temporomandibular joints TMJwhich connect your lower jaw to your skull in front of your ear, and it can also cause changes in the positioning of your jaw, Dr.

All this leads to tension, which can spark a headache. On top of a headache, you might also feel tightness or pain in your jaw, pain that feels like an earache, or pain or sensitivity in your teeth.

If you suspect that your morning headaches are due to teeth grinding or your dentist has flagged you as a teeth grindertalk to your doctor about next steps, which can include wearing a protective bite guard at night, Dr. Kriegler says. According to the Mayo Clinic, red wine in particular is a common headache culprit.

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Alcohol is also a diuretic meaning, it causes you to peeand many people wake up dehydrated after drinking, which can exacerbate a hangover headache or cause one to form, she says. The solution is pretty simple: Avoid drinking too much. When people describe morning headaches, Dr.

waking up with a headache

Kreigler says. This is obviously rare and not the most likely cause of morning head pain, so don't freak out and assume the worst. If you did have a brain tumorDr. It's much more likely that your morning headaches are caused by something much less serious. That said, looking after your sleep hygiene in general is an excellent preventive measure, given how a poor or irregular sleep schedule ups your chance of headaches.

If it happens regularly, though, talk to your doctor so you can find out what's causing them—and fix it.


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