Waking Up With Headaches: Causes, and its Treatment

You are not alone if you wake up with a headache in the morning. Approximately 1 in every 13 people experience early morning headaches. 

Several health disorders and unhygienic habits can cause this problem. Out of them, sleep disorders, migraine, and poor sleep are common culprits. However, alcohol consumption, teeth grinding, and certain medications can also wake you up with such a situation.

Since it does not cause any lifelong illness, many people ignore it and wake up every morning with head pain. But it should not be neglected.

In this article, we will discuss some important causes of why you wake up with headaches.

Causes Behind Waking Up With Headaches

1. Migraine

waking up with a headache every morning

Source: drweil.com

Migraine headaches generally occur only on one side of your head and may remain for hours or days. The most common time for migraine outbreaks is in the morning. Because during this period, our body tends to produce natural painkillers such as endorphins in low amounts. 

You can also experience migraine symptoms during sleep. In addition to migraine attacks, you may notice:

  • Stiff neck
  • Bright spots or flashing lights
  • Moving lines
  • Temporary vision loss

2. Sleep Disorders

waking up with headaches

Source: sleephealthsolutionsohio.com

waking up with headaches

Source: elitecarehouston.com

Sleep disorders do not let you get good sleep. They decrease your overall wellness and cause morning headaches.

As per a study by the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 60% of adults reported sleep problems on multiple nights a week.

A rare situation called Hypnic headache results due to a lack of sleep. With it, you frequently feel headaches during sleep. These headaches can last about 15 minutes to 4 hours. 

Although such headaches occur without additional symptoms. But some people noted migraine-like symptoms such as light sensitivity and nausea.

3. Sleep Apnea

waking up with headaches

Source: vascularhealthclinics.org

waking up with headaches

Source: breathepa.org

Waking up with headaches can be a sign of various reasons, like migraine, sleep disorders, sleep apnea, and more. Find out how to treat morning headaches

Sleep apnea is an unknown cause of early morning headaches. It is a condition where breathing frequently stops and starts. Such a situation occurs due to blockage in the upper airways.

It might also develop problems with teeth grinding at night, dry mouth, and even reduced quality of life with your spouse. 

Such a condition goes undiagnosed in many cases and it is difficult to know the root problem of morning headaches.

4. Nighttime Bruxism or Teeth Grinding

woke up with a headache

Source: vutknoxvilledentists.com

woke up with a headache

Source: rochesteradvanceddentistry.com

Nighttime bruxism or teeth grinding is one of the signs of sleep apnea. When you grind your teeth while asleep, it can inflict ear pain, jaw pain, and head pain.

If you wonder why does the top of my head hurt, it can be because of the nighttime bruxism.

In most cases, nighttime teeth grinding go undetected. You may wake up with headaches, tooth sensitivity, and jaw soreness and not know what induced it.

Consult your dentist to look out for signs of this condition so that long-term complications will stay away from your life.

5. Insomnia

waking up with headaches

Source: spineuniverse.com

woke up with a headache

Source: verywellhealth.com

Insomnia is a severe condition that disrupts your circadian rhythm and prevents you from sleeping well. Sleep deprivation induces many health problems, including headaches, anxiety, and depression.

According to research in 2016, 20% of migraine patients encountered excessive daytime drowsiness. 

If this condition does not get treated in time, you could begin having illusions, which means seeing or hearing things that do not exist. 

An inadequacy of sleep can also trigger mania in some people with a bipolar mood disorder.

6. Oversleeping

morning headachesSource: autism.org

Oversleeping can make you wake up with headaches. It occurs due to the less production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that is essential for the smooth running of eating, digesting, and sleeping processes. 

People who sleep during the day and disrupt their night sleep may often witness themselves suffering from early morning headaches.

7. Poor Sleep Posture

morning headaches

Source: verywellhealth.com

Poor or wrong sleep posture is another reason why does my head feel heavy. When you sleep in the incorrect posture, your muscles get strained or tensed. That, in turn, triggers a morning headache.

Stress is also the cause of muscle tension and headaches. Going to sleep with stress in your mind may cause head pain when you wake up.

8. Medication Overuse

morning headaches

Source: dalong.com

The American Migraine Foundation defines in its report that using medication and painkillers for more than 2-3 days per week can cause chronic early morning headaches.

Here are some medicines that might induce the morning headache:

  • Percocet Painkiller
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Sumatriptan (Zomig, Imitrex)
  • Ergotamine (Ergomar)
  • Opiate analgesics, like hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Anti-anxiety medications

9. Use Of Drugs Or Alcohol

Waking Up With Headaches

Source: addictioncenter.com

Drug abuse and alcohol consumption increase your chance of having early morning headaches. 

You may experience morning headaches as a symptom of an alcohol hangover. 

Illegal drugs such as opioids and cocaine may invite headaches too. Even withdrawal from drugs may result in head pain, including morning headaches.

In addition, your prescription drugs related to any disease can also mess up your sleep habits and lead you to morning headaches.

10. Inadequate Diet

Waking Up With Headaches

Source: ctfassets.net

Your diet is an essential measure against morning headaches. A healthy diet implies a low chance of head pain in the early morning. Here are certain food items that trigger morning headaches:

  • Chocolate
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Caffeine
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Smoked fish
  • Cured meats
  • Old cheeses

Dehydration may also reason behind why am i waking up with headaches. When you are dehydrated, your brain shrinks and prompts a headache.

So make sure you drink plenty of water before sleep. This step wards off dehydration and helps in promoting relaxed sleep.

11. Presence of Home Allergens

Waking Up With Headaches

Source: shopify.com

Home allergens can induce headaches, especially if you were asleep in the same place for eight hours. These allergy headaches may arouse by smoke, mold, pets, specific smells, or foods. You can consult your doctor to determine the main cause behind it. 

However, one way to stop headaches is to use a room humidifier. It takes out pollutants and odors from the air, thus allowing you to sleep well.

Some Rare Causes Behind Morning Headaches

woke up with a headache

Source: hearstapps.com

waking up with a headache every morning

Source: openaccessgovernment.org

Here are some medical conditions that tend to be the rare causes of morning headaches:

  • Cluster headache
  • Brain Tumor
  • Cervicogenic headache
  • Hypnic headache
  • Exploding head syndrome
  • Intracranial hypotension
  • Giant cell arteritis
  • Musculoskeletal disease

Now that you have understood the reasons behind why do i wake up with a headache, let us move ahead to know possible treatment procedures for morning headaches.

Also Read: 20 Type Of Headache Chart, Identify Which One Do You Have?

How To Treat Morning Headaches?

waking up with a headache every morning

Source: medicalnewstoday.com

Treatment of morning headaches requires you to visit a doctor to monitor your symptoms. The doctor will find out the leading cause of the problem and suggest the treatment procedures. 

Here are 13 treatment options and lifestyle changes that may deal with the causes of morning headaches:

  1. Take good quality sleep of 7-8 hours.
  2. Massage therapy for reducing muscle tension
  3. Chiropractic care
  4. Use a cold pack for migraine
  5. Take over-the-counter pain medication as prescribed
  6. Avoid drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and junk food
  7. DNA oral device for treating sleep apnea and teeth grinding
  8. Use mouth guards for sleep apnea
  9. Avoid using blue light-emitting devices such as phones and tablets before sleep time.
  10. Turn down the temperature in your room to a couple of degrees.
  11. Do not exercise before a few hours of shuteye. Exercising lifts up your body temperature, making it hard to take a nap.
  12. Avoid the consumption of chocolate, coffee, and sodas within a few hours of slumber. Also, limit your fluid intake before bedtime.
  13. Take a hot bath before going to bed as it impacts the temperature regulation process and prepares your body naturally for sleep.


Treatment of early morning headaches should be according to their causes. Knowing the reason, you may manage the headaches yourself by making a few lifestyle changes.

You may also need to talk with your doctor, specifically if they occur due to an underlying condition. When you and the doctor determine the problem, the headaches will get better with reasonable treatment.

We hope all your doubts about why you wake up with a headache are set off now. If you still have questions, leave them in the comments below. 

Also, do not forget to share this article with your family and friends to make them aware of such a condition.

For more health-related information, visit Healthclubfinder.

Comments are closed.