If you find yourself frequently waking up with headaches, you are not alone.
Many people experience morning headaches.
In fact, 1 out of 13 people suffers from morning headaches.
Especially these headaches generally affect women more than men and are most frequent in people between the ages of 45 and 64. (1)
These headaches can be caused by several factors, including sleep apnea, migraines, lack of sleep, and teeth grinding.
Additionally, certain medications and alcohol use can also trigger morning headaches.
In some cases, a combination of these factors may be to blame.
Why do I keep waking up with a headache?
If you are waking up with a headache, it is important to see your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
There are a number of potential causes of morning headaches.
1. Sleep Apnea
If you wake up with a headache every morning, it could be a sign of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes disruptions in your breathing while you sleep.
These disruptions can cause loud snoring, and they can also lead to morning headaches.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime fatigue, irritability, and trouble concentrating.
If you think you might have sleep apnea, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
There are treatments available for sleep apnea, including a CPAP machine.
If you use a CPAP machine, it can help reduce or eliminate your morning headaches.
2. Alcohol and Hangovers
Alcohol is a potential suspect since it may lead to dehydration and hangovers.
Drinking alcohol, especially in large quantities, has been linked to morning headaches.
This is because alcohol can disrupt your sleep and cause dehydration, both of which can lead to headaches. (2)
Additionally, alcohol can trigger migraines in some people.
If you’ve been noticing that your morning headaches seem to be worse after a night of drinking, it’s worth cutting back on alcohol to see if that makes a difference.
Stress can also be a trigger for morning headaches.
If you’re under a lot of stress before bed, it can lead to poor sleep and tension headaches.
Tension headaches are often described as dull, throbbing pain.
They’re usually the result of muscle tension in the neck and head.
If you think stress might be the cause of your morning headaches, there are a few things you can do to try to reduce stress.
Exercise, meditation, and deep breathing can all help to reduce stress levels.
If you’re a frequent snorer, you might be more likely to wake up with a headache in the morning.
For example, small research of 268 individuals who snored on a regular basis revealed that about 23.5 percent of them awoke with morning headaches.
Believe it or not, snoring can cause morning headaches because it can lead to poor sleep during the night.
If you snore, it’s worth talking to your doctor about it.
Early morning headaches can also be caused by insomnia.
Insomnia is a condition that makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Other symptoms of insomnia include daytime fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritability.
If you think you might be suffering from insomnia, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
There are treatments available that can help you get the rest you need.
Certain medications can cause morning headaches as a side effect.
For example, beta-blockers and vasoconstrictors are two types of medications that can lead to morning headaches.
Also, antibiotic medications are known to cause headaches in some people.
If you’re taking any medications and have started to wake up with a headache, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
They may be able to recommend a different medication that doesn’t cause headaches as a side effect.
7. Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a condition that causes people to grind or clench their teeth.
It often happens during sleep, but it can also occur when you’re awake.
Teeth grinding can lead to morning headaches because it can cause muscle tension in the head and neck.
It can also lead to jaw pain and tooth damage.
Talk to your dentist if you think you might be grinding your teeth at night.
They can provide you with a mouth guard to wear at night to protect your teeth.
Although it might sound counterintuitive, oversleeping can actually cause morning headaches.
Doctors believe this is because of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin.
Nevertheless, if you’re experiencing headaches only in the mornings after oversleeping, you should reduce the amount of time you sleep to 7-8 hours per night.
Doing so may help to reduce or eliminate your morning headaches.
9. Strained muscles in your neck
Another reason you may be waking up with a headache is that you have strained the muscles in your neck.
This can happen if you sleep in an awkward position or if you have a poorly supported mattress.
If you think this might be the case, you may need to evaluate your sleep position and the pillows you use.
This might help ease the tension in your neck and reduce the severity of your morning headaches.
10. Hormone Imbalance
Headaches can also be caused by a hormone imbalance.
This is most common in women during their menstrual cycle or menopause.
For example, during menopause, declining estrogen levels can cause headaches.
This is because estrogen plays a role in nerve function and neurotransmitter activity.
Other hormone imbalances that can cause headaches are:
- Thyroid problems
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Addison’s disease
If you think a hormone imbalance might be causing your headaches, talk to your doctor.
They can do a blood test to check your hormone levels.
If you’re waking up with a headache, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
There are many potential causes of morning headaches, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
By talking to your doctor, you can develop a plan to help reduce or eliminate your morning headaches.