Why do I keep waking up with a headache? You may wake up with morning headaches because of sleep apnea, alcohol and hangovers, stress, snoring, insomnia, and teeth grinding. Let’s take a closer look at each of these potential causes.
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Why Do I Keep Waking Up With A Headache?
The American Migraine Foundation (AMF) explains that migraine attacks generally occur early in the morning. Because most painkillers wear off after 4 to 8 hours, you may wake up with a headache if you take them before going to bed. Most experts agree that 50 percent of migraines occur between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Learn More: 8 Things That Cause Migraines
2. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects your breathing while you sleep. If you have sleep apnea, you may snore loudly or stop breathing for short periods of time. These pauses in breathing can cause you to wake up frequently throughout the night, which can lead to morning headaches. If you think you might have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about getting a diagnosis and treatment.
3. Alcohol and Hangovers
When you drink alcohol the night before, you may wake up with a headache the next morning. This is because alcohol can cause hangovers and dehydration, which can lead to headaches. If you regularly drink alcohol and wake up with headaches, it’s important to cut back on your intake or stop drinking altogether.
Stress can contribute to tension headaches and migraine. If stressed, you may be more likely to wake up with a headache in the morning.
Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea (see above). In addition to causing sleep apnea, snoring can disrupt sleep and lead to morning headaches.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it could be causing your morning headaches. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have a chance to rest and recover from the day’s activities. This can lead to tension headaches and migraines. Talk to your doctor if insomnia is affecting your life so they can help you find ways to improve your sleep habits.
Some medications (such as blood pressure medications, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and sedatives ) can cause headaches as a side effect. If you’re taking any medication, check the label to see if headaches are a potential side effect.
8. Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding (also called bruxism) is a condition that causes people to grind their teeth while sleeping. It can lead to morning headaches due to the muscle strain it puts on your jaw and face muscles.
While it may seem counterintuitive, oversleeping can actually cause morning headaches in some people. This is especially true if you have insomnia or sleep apnea (both of which can cause you to oversleep). Try setting the alarm for the same time each day and sticking to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible to avoid oversleeping and waking up with a headache.
10 Strained Muscles in Your Neck
Sleeping in an awkward position can lead to strained muscles in your neck and shoulders. This muscle strain can then cause morning headaches.
11. Hormone Imbalance
Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, etc., can trigger migraines in some women. If you experience regular morning headaches and are of childbearing age, hormone imbalance may be the cause.
Learn More: Hormonal Imbalance in Women
12. Brain Tumors
Although it’s extremely unlikely, one possible reason you might be waking up with a headache every morning is a brain tumor. Now, before you start panicking, know that brain tumors are actually quite rare. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, only about 24,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. But if you’re still worried, here are some other symptoms of brain tumors that you should look out for:
- Persistent headaches that aren’t relieved by over-the-counter pain medications
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Changes in vision
- Changes in mood or personality
13 Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
Another potential cause of your morning headaches is TMJ disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, TMJ disorder is “a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.” If you have TMJ disorder, you might experience pain not just in your head but also in your neck, face, and shoulders. You might also have trouble opening and closing your mouth or grinding your teeth. Other symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- A clicking or popping sound when you move your jaw
- Jaw pain when eating or chewing
- Pain in your face or ears
- Tenderness or pain in your jaw muscles
14. Depression and anxiety
Another common reason people wake up with a headache is depression or anxiety. Anxiety can lead to increased muscle tension, which can result in headaches. If you think your morning headaches might be caused by depression or anxiety, look out for these other symptoms:
- Inability to concentrate
- Changes in appetite or weight gain/loss
How to Get Rid of Morning Headaches
Here are some simple steps you can take to get rid of morning headaches and start your day off headache-free.
1. Drink lots of water when you wake up
When you sleep, your body loses water, and this can cause a headache. So, the first thing that you should do when you wake up is to drink attest two cups of water.
2. Take a pain reliever
If you’re already dealing with a headache, taking a pain reliever like ibuprofen or aspirin can help alleviate the pain. Just be sure not to overuse pain relievers, as they can cause more headaches if used too frequently.
3. Eat breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast can also help get rid of morning headaches. When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar levels drop, and this can cause a headache.
4. Apply a cold pack
If your headache is caused by muscle tension, applying a cold pack to your neck or forehead can help reduce the pain.
5. Stretch or massage your neck and shoulders
If you spend a lot of time hunched over your computer or phone, it’s no wonder you’re getting headaches. Try stretching your neck and shoulders or massaging the muscles in these areas to help relieve tension headaches.
6. Get some fresh air and sunlight
Sometimes all you need is fresh air and sunlight to get rid of a headache. Step outside for a few minutes and take some deep breaths while you soak up some vitamin D from the sun.
7. Relax and de-stress
Stress is a common trigger for headaches, so try to find ways to relax and de-stress throughout the day. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, or even just 10 minutes of quiet time can help ease stress and prevent headaches.
8. Drink herbal tea
Herbal tea can also help reduce the pain of a headache. Some good options are ginger tea, lavender tea, or chamomile tea.
There are many potential causes of morning headaches. If you regularly wake up with a headache, it’s best to see a doctor so they can determine the underlying cause. In some cases, such as with stress or muscle strain, lifestyle changes may help. However, other causes, such as sleep apnea or hormones, will require medical treatment.