Wondering Reasons Behind Waking Up with Headaches

waking up with a headache every morning

Wondering why there is a headache as soon as I wake up? There could be various reasons if you woke up with a headache. You may have morning headaches when you wake up without a sufficient good night’s rest (sleeping for 7-8 hours). Another reason for waking up with headaches is being stressed out, or you may experience them regularly.

In a room full of 13 people, at least one person is more inclined towards waking up with a headache every morning. Among many reasons for morning headaches, it could be a change in the body’s physiology that leads one to wake up with a headache in front of the head. In the morning hours, the body’s level of internal pain reduction may be lowered. When this happens, our body may produce more adrenaline during this time, resulting in a headache that wakes you up.

Morning headaches may also occur due to a lack of quality sleep. People with insomnia or sleep disorder are 2-8 times more likely to wake up with a headache every day.

If you have this medical issue, you should first learn all about this issue and understand all types of headaches that happen to people. This read will provide you with a full explanation regarding this condition where you wake up with a headache every morning.

Wondering about the reasons for headaches after waking up? Well! There are various reasons for waking up with a bad headache. Walk down through the article to know the list behind morning headaches.

Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea, also known as Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is a medical condition in which patients with this experience disrupt or stop breathing while sleeping. This medical condition affects about 2-5% of adults. As a common symptom of OSA, headache after sleeping is amongst the common symptoms.

Experts are still not sure about the exact cause of sleep apnea, but it is usually attributed to loud snoring, another symptom of sleep apnea. For treating this medical condition, doctors may suggest a CPAP machine. It helps to reduce or completely remove the morning headaches.

Insomnia and Sleep Loss

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It is a medical condition in which you will not sleep without waking up in the middle of the night, and most people do not even sleep at night. Sleep deprivation is a common reason for morning headaches. People with insomnia come with higher chances of experiencing morning headaches. Along with waking up in the morning with a headache, people with insomnia may also feel unrested or sluggish and may have daytime drowsiness.

You can treat this medical condition with the help of medications, therapy, or a combination of both. Your primary health care provider may track your sleep patterns so that he can help you to diagnose the condition and work with you and provide you with the most effective treatment options. 

Depression or Anxiety

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No doubt anxiety or depression is one of the reasons for sleep loss. A person may not get adequate or sound sleep and hence wake up with headaches in the morning. According to a survey of more than 19,000 people, there are high chances of suffering from waking up with a bad headache that may be associated with anxiety and depression. Persistent stress and feelings of hopelessness may also affect sleep which can cause headaches.

Depression and anxiety may also be linked with other medical health conditions that may cause morning headaches. Anxiety disorders are more common in people with migraine headaches. People waking up with migraines are more inclined towards experiencing depression than people who do not have anxiety.

The bidirectional bond between anxiety disorder or depression and headaches is complex. Most people with migraines develop anxiety or go into depression after their headaches initiate. For others, the migraine occurs after living with depression or anxiety for some time. You can treat anxiety and depression by taking prescription medications such as benzodiazepines. Waking up with a headache behind the eyes is the most common type of early morning headache

Teeth Grinding

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This medical condition is also known as sleep bruxism or clenching. It occurs during sleep and keeps waking up with eye pain and headache. This excessive and forceful movement can also cause damage to the gum, tooth wear, and muscle pain. There are several causes of teeth grinding, such as anxiety, sleep disruption, irregular jaw shape, coffee, and drinking alcohol.

A dentist is the one who will diagnose teeth grinding. Doctors and dentists will tell you to wear a mouthguard at night as a treatment option. For managing waking with a headache, your doctor may also tell you to take some medications and recommend cognitive behavioral therapy for treating anxiety and stress.


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Do you keep waking up with headaches? Heavy drinking in the evening is highly associated with waking up with headaches and nausea. However, even if you don’t drink that much alcohol, it still affects sleep and can potentially be one of the morning headache causes. When you drink alcohol, you are more likely to sleep early, but your sleep will get interrupted or disrupted, and you will usually wake up earlier.

Alcohol will cause you to urinate more than usual and cause loss of fluids which will cause mild dehydration. Headaches are one of the common side effects of dehydration. This is one of the common causes for you to wake up with headaches every day.

Additionally, alcohol can become the reason for migraines. If you wake up with a headache in front of your head, it could be due to alcohol. Moreover, if you sleep after drinking, you will always wake up with a headache. If you suffer from this, you should avoid alcohol at all costs and refrain from drinking it.


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Prescription and over-the-counter medicines are well-known reasons for morning headaches. It is tempting for people to increase the doses of pain medications if morning headaches get severe. Increasing the dosing can cause more frequent headaches and is harmful to the body. If you are using pain medication, you should use it under the guidance of your doctor. Pain medications that can increase the headaches with its misuse are:

  • Aspirin
  • acetaminophen 
  • Prescription pain medications such as those for chronic pain
  • NSAIDs

Using medications before sleeping can also affect the sleep patterns that will lead to a morning headache. Withdrawal and overdose from the caffeine in many pain medications, beverages, and foods can also cause headaches.

Stopping certain medications or lowering their dosages can also cause headaches. You should consult with a physician before stopping or changing the medications. Some medications that tend to cause headaches are:

  • Caffeine
  • ED medications
  • Niacin
  • Blood pressure and heart medicines
  • Birth control pills

Restless Leg Syndrome

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There is a significant association between RLS and primary headaches disorders like migraines. RLS is a medical condition that is common in middle-aged or older people. There is no cure for this medical condition, but there are various treatment options available that will help.

Muscle Pain

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Each morning, headaches can be the result of strained muscles in the neck. You should evaluate the sleep position and the pillow that you use for treating this condition.

Pillows will help you maintain a sleeping position that will help you to support the spine and neck. Finding the right pillow may take some time. The pillow you use shall keep the head and neck in the same position, just like when you are standing. Soft pillows will not hold the spine and neck properly and make a reason for waking up with headaches and neck pain. You should replace the pillow as needed for sustaining the correct sleeping posture.

What Are the Types of Headaches?

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waking up with a headache every morning

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A headache can cause sharp, dull, or throbbing pain. People experience headaches for different periods; some people may experience it for an hour or less, and some people may experience it for a more prolonged time that lasts for days. 

There are different types of morning headaches that you may have, such as:

  • Cluster headache
  • Migraine
  • Hypnic Headache
  • Tension headache
  • Headache that occurs due to medicine overuse
  • Paroxysmal hemicrania

What Are the Causes of Morning Headaches?

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waking up with a headache every morning

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Wondering why there is a headache after a nap? There are high chances that headaches may be associated with a disruption in REM sleep or the workings of the hypothalamus gland. The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating sleep homeostasis and controlling pain. The hypothalamus is located in a critical brain region. According to research, it is involved with the transition from wakefulness to sleep and vice versa. It may contribute to morning headaches and nausea.

As you shift from sleep to wakefulness, certain brain parts initiate you to wake up as well. The brain becomes more responsive to changes in body position, sound and touch. During this time of increased sensitivity, you may be more inclined towards waking up with a headache and nausea.

Disturbance in the hypothalamus while sleeping can affect the ability to tolerate pain. As a result, while you may not be feeling any pain during the sleeping time, you may feel it when you wake up. As mentioned earlier, people with sleep disorders are more likely to experience morning headaches. Sleep disorders trigger morning head pain, but there are various possible causes for waking up in the morning with a headache.

How to Manage Morning Headaches?

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Getting restful and restorative sleep can be a challenging task for most people. Everything you do can help you promote sleep quality. It is valuable and helps to decrease daytime drowsiness, stress levels, and most essential for those morning headaches.

There is some things that you can do, such as:

  • Partake in stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, mindfulness, and physical activity, and exercise.
  • Use the bed only for sleeping and not for other things, such as watching TV. 
  • You should avoid heavy meals and stimulants such as alcohol before bed.
  • Do not use your phone in your bed.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene by sleeping and waking up at the same time every day.
  • You should exercise about 30 minutes of vigorous activity every day. At least 5-6 hours before sleeping.
  • Write down the days and times when you get headaches and show them to the doctor to treat the medical condition.
  • Eat fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins rich in vitamins B such as eggs, fish, and poultry.
  • Do not consume more than three 8-ounce coffee cups every day, and be mindful of the amount of caffeine in other beverages you drink.

Also Read: How To Wake Up In The Morning With Full Energy? (Tips On Having A Sound Sleep)

Visit Doctor

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If you still have morning headaches, it is time that you consult with the doctor or see a headache specialist or get a change in headache pattern that is not common for what you are used to. Understanding the reason for the morning headaches is the initial step for stopping the problem.

After identifying the cause, you can manage your headaches by limiting the activities that trigger the medical condition. The healthy behaviors and habits that will help you fall and remain asleep will help you reduce the number of headaches you get. The health care provider or PCP will work with you to develop an appropriate plan for your medical condition. You can prevent some of the causes of headaches, while some headaches will need treatment.

Treating any underlying medical conditions, such as sleeping disorders, and practicing healthy habits will help you treat your medical condition or at least reduce their severity. Consult with the doctor for medicines, appropriate therapy, or you can approach it complementarity


You should get the treatment for this medical condition according to its causes. Depending on the cause of this problem, you can manage the headaches by getting a higher quality of sleep or by changing your sleeping position or pillow. After knowing the cause of morning headaches, you should get the appropriate treatment.

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