Why Do I Wake Up With A Headache [Causes & Best Solutions]

Waking Up With A Headache Covid

You’re not alone if you wake up frequently in the morning with a headache. Morning headaches affect approximately one in every thirteen persons. People between the ages of 45 and 64 are the most likely to suffer from these headaches.

An early morning headache can be caused by a variety of sleep or health conditions and personal habits. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome are common causes of morning headaches. These headaches are typically dull, short-lived, and resolved by eating breakfast or taking over-the-counter pain medication.

Many things can cause you to wake up with a headache, from drinking too much alcohol the night before to have a disorder like sleep apnea. If you’re waking up with a headache regularly, it may be time to visit your doctor.

However, in this article, I’m going to show you some of the possible reasons why you wake up with a headache after bed.

Why Do I Always Wake Up With A Headache?

Headache after sleep can also be parts of your brain “waking up” as you shift from slumber to consciousness. Changes in your body’s position, touch, and sound have an increased effect on your brain’s responsiveness. Your body may be more sensitive to pain during this phase of increased sensitivity.

The hypothalamus, a brain region, is also important in sleep and pain regulation. In addition to regulating your circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, the hypothalamus also affects sensation and pain.


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A person’s tolerance for pain is compromised if the hypothalamus is disturbed while sleeping. As a result, even if you didn’t have any discomfort while sleeping, you may in the morning.

There are several probable causes for waking up with a headache, but these are the most logical explanations for these phenomenons:

1. Insomnia and Sleep Deprivation

If you’re waking up with headaches, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to a headache the very next day.

Insomniacs are more likely to suffer from morning headaches than the general population because sleep loss contributes to this ailment. Sleep apnea is a problem for those who have difficulty falling or staying asleep.


As a result, they are more likely to experience sleep deprivation, leaving them feeling groggy and lethargic during the day. Lack of sleep can lead to morning headaches, but so can other factors, such as sleep disorders or even the way you sleep. If you wake up with a headache every morning, it’s important to talk with your doctor. They can help you find the cause and treat it so you feel better.

2. Sleep Apnea

If you have ever woken up with a headache, there are numerous possible causes to consider. Some of the most common causes include stress, dehydration, and even caffeine withdrawal. Among these, sleep apnea is an often-overlooked cause of headaches that can occur in the morning after waking up.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s upper airway is blocked during sleep. The severity of the blockage depends on a person’s anatomy. For example, some people may only experience a partial collapse of their airway while others may experience a complete blockage.

When a person’s airway becomes blocked, he or she stops breathing for a short period (10 seconds or less). After time has passed, the brain sends out an alert to wake up and reopen the airway. This causes the person to make gasping sounds as they breathe in and out heavily and rapidly.

Over time, if sleep apnea is not treated, it can lead to more severe health issues such as heart disease and diabetes. However, one of the more immediate side effects of sleep apnea is headache pain upon waking up in the morning.

When a person has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), their sleep is disturbed or completely stopped. Between 2% and 9% of adults are affected by OSA. A typical symptom of OSA is morning headaches.

29% of patients with OSA reported experiencing morning headaches in a study5 OSA-induced headaches are generally related to loud snoring, another common symptom of OSA. However, the specific source of these headaches is unknown. If you have sleep apnea, you may be able to eliminate your morning headaches by utilizing a CPAP machine.

3. Stress & Tension

If you wake up with a headache, you may be experiencing stress. Stress is one of the most common causes of morning headaches. Stress can cause certain muscles to tighten up, leading to morning headaches.

Stress is often the cause of waking up with a headache. Stress can lead to tension headaches, which are usually described as a band-like pressure around the forehead or back of the neck. Tension headaches can also occur when you wake up in the morning. If stress is the cause of your morning headache, it could be due to your sleep patterns being disrupted by emotional strain.

Stress can also lead to changes in eating and sleeping habits, which may trigger headaches or cause them to worsen. The best way to combat stress-related headaches is to reduce stress levels through relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.


4. Dehydration & Alcohol Consumption

When you’re sleeping, you’re not drinking water and your body might become dehydrated. This is especially true if you wake up in the middle of the night and don’t replenish yourself. Dehydration can make your brain shrink or pull away from the skull, which activates pain receptors and causes a headache.

People who suffer from dehydration are more likely to wake up with pain that slowly subsides as the day goes on.

When we sleep, our body requires less water than when we are awake and active. The body can compensate for this by a reduction in urine volume at night. If you drink too little water during the day, then your body will not be able to make up for it at night.

During sleep, our body loses water through breath and sweat, and not drinking enough water during the day can make us wake up with a headache.

5. Disorders of the Circadian Rhythm (DR)

Some people wake up with a headache in the morning, only to find it goes away as the day progresses. The headache may be a symptom of other conditions or disorders that occur during sleep.

An individual’s circadian rhythm is a 24-hour pattern that helps the body maintain its proper functions. The body’s “internal clock” is located in the hypothalamus and affects sleep cycles and behavior patterns related to when an individual sleeps and wakes. When disrupted, this internal clock can result in difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, which can cause an increase in stress hormones, an inability to properly regulate blood pressure, and a severe morning headache.

It is more common for people with circadian rhythm abnormalities to experience morning headaches than those who do not. If your body’s sleep-wake cycles are out of sync with the 24-hour cycle, you can acquire circadian rhythm problems. Sleep deprivation and a subsequent headache are possible side effects of this alignment issue.

6. Oversleeping

Oversleeping or sleeping excessively can cause morning headaches, as well. It is possible to wake up with a more severe headache because of a poor night’s rest and because you slept longer. Oversleeping might cause a headache because of the extra sleep.

Going to bed late and sleeping in late can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle, which may trigger a headache. Sleeping less than usual can trigger a tension headache or migraine.

A lack of sleep or oversleeping causes your serotonin levels to drop, which triggers headaches and migraines in some people. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate many processes in your body and brain, including moods and emotions. It’s released when you’re exposed to bright light, so getting plenty of sunlight during the day can help boost your serotonin levels and decrease your risk for headaches.

7. Hangover

Evening headaches are frequently associated with binge drinking, defined as six or more drinks in one sitting. The effects of alcohol on sleep and morning headaches can be seen even at lower alcohol concentrations.

The most common cause of waking up with a headache is a hangover — the result of drinking too much alcohol the night before. Hangover headaches can occur at any point during the day after you’ve been drinking.

A “hangover” is the term used to describe the unpleasant symptoms that can occur after a night of excessive drinking. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it helps you lose water by increasing urine output. This can lead to dehydration, which is one of the main reasons for hangover symptoms such as headache and nausea.

8. Medications

Morning headaches may be side-effects of some of the medications you take.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause headaches as a side effect. Taking painkillers to ease the pain of a headache might lead to a cycle of headaches that is difficult to break. Alternatively, if you stop using the medicine overnight, you may wake up with a headache.

If you take medication before bedtime, especially blood pressure medications or water pills, they may cause a headache as a side effect when they wear off overnight.

Headaches can be caused by several medications including Opioids, Triptans, Analgesics that do not contain NSAIDs (NSAIDs), Aspirin, Acetaminophen, or Medications for reducing anxiety.

Best Treatments For Morning Headaches & Headaches After Bed

  • Talk to your doctor if you frequently or every day wake up with a headache in the morning. Keep a sleep journal and show it to your doctor if you want to keep track of your symptoms and sleep patterns.
  • If you’re experiencing morning headaches, they can help you pinpoint the exact cause and devise a treatment strategy.
  • To alleviate headaches caused by sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, or bruxism, you need to see a doctor. If you’re having trouble breathing, there are several options available to you.
  • Using a CPAP machine, in particular, appears to be a particularly effective treatment.
  • Psychiatric illness, medications, counseling, or a mix of both may be used to treat depression or anxiety-related headaches, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Your morning headaches may be relieved by this.
  • For strain on the muscles or neck pain caused by muscle strain, a new pillow or sleeping position may be all that is needed to alleviate the discomfort. In addition, this will likely assist in alleviating your headaches.
  • A hangover or a morning headache are common side effects of drinking too much alcohol. If you’re having trouble keeping a handle on your alcohol use, seek help from a medical expert or a non-profit group.
  • Having a regular bedtime and wake-up time, as well as a dark and comfortable sleeping environment can help alleviate headaches caused by circadian rhythm or oversleeping.
  • TMJ problems can be addressed by a doctor or dentist. In most cases, successful TMJ therapy results in the alleviation of headaches.
  • Migraine attacks, in particular, can be alleviated by making lifestyle adjustments. Some lifestyle changes may be made to better cope with migraines. Symbolically, they are known as SEEDS [Sleep, Eat healthy, Exercise, Diary, Stress Management]
  • Your doctor is the best person to turn to if you’re suffering from headaches brought on by medication. If an OTC medicine is the root of your problem, your doctor is the one who can truly help you.


Waking up with a headache can be attributed to various factors, including sleep quality, dehydration, and stress. Identifying the specific cause is crucial in finding the best solution. Whether it’s improving sleep hygiene, staying hydrated, managing stress, or seeking medical advice, addressing the root cause is key to preventing morning headaches. By adopting healthy habits and making lifestyle adjustments, individuals can work towards waking up with a clear head and a refreshed start to the day.

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