Why do I wake up with a Headache?

A migraine usually feels like piercing pain in one area, along with light sensitivity or nausea. Migraines can also contribute to mental health issues by making life challenging due to fatigue. There are many reasons why someone wakes up with a headache every morning, including dehydration, migraine, sleep apnea, or bruxism, a condition where someone grinds or clenches their teeth during sleep.

Migraine headaches often begin in the early morning hours for many people. There may be another cause if a person has never suffered a migraine headache before.

It is possible for your morning headache to be caused by a combination of disorders or habits.

What Causes Morning Headaches?

Brain activity increases as you transition from sleep to wakefulness. This period of heightened sensitivity may make you more sensitive to pain.

Both sleep and pain are controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. Sleep cycles and sensations are modulated by the hypothalamus. Your ability to tolerate pain is affected by disturbances in the hypothalamus during sleep. Thus, the pain you feel in the morning may not have been felt while you slept.

Related: Why do I wake up with a Headache?

Morning headaches can be caused by a variety of factors, including sleep disorders.

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by interrupted or stopped breathing during sleep. The prevalence of OSA in adult ranges from 2% to 9%. OSA is associated with morning headaches. According to one study, 29% of people with OSA suffer from morning headaches every morning. Sleep apnea-induced headaches are often caused by loud snoring, another common OSA symptom.

Sleep Loss and Insomnia

A common cause of morning headaches is sleep deprivation, so people with insomnia are at a higher risk as well. Those who suffer from this sleep disorder have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. They feel unrested and sluggish during the day due to lack of sleep.


Sleeping too much or oversleeping can also cause morning headaches. When you wake up, both low-quality sleep and longer sleep are associated with more intense headaches. An oversleeping headache can result from too much sleep.


Migraines, or moderate to severe recurring headaches, usually occur in the morning. As migraines progress in severity, they often begin as headaches. Approximately 12% of Americans get migraines, and most sufferers are women and those with sleep problems. A migraine sufferer is much more likely to suffer from insufficient sleep, and recurrent sleep loss can trigger migraines. Symptoms of new headaches in the elderly should be investigated for possible malignancy.

Related: What Is The Difference Between A Headache And A Migraine?


Poor sleep and headaches can be triggered by your sleep posture and position. Changing your sleep position or choosing a supportive pillow can help relieve this tension.


Morning headaches are associated with heavy drinking of six or more drinks in an evening. Even at low levels, alcohol affects sleep and can cause morning headaches for various reasons. Alcohol can cause a person to fall asleep even more quickly than usual, but the sleep can be disrupted, and you often wake up earlier. Dehydration is also caused by alcohol due to increased urination and fluid loss. Dehydration often causes headaches. Additionally, alcohol can also be a trigger for headache every morning.


Talk to our board-certified neurologists at NeuroX, if you experience frequent or daily morning headaches. Keep a sleep diary to track your symptoms and sleep habits and share it with your doctor. You can develop a treatment plan with their help if you can identify the cause or causes of your morning headaches.

Related: What is a Low CSF Pressure Headache?

Your headaches may require additional treatment depending on their cause. Some treatments might include:

Lifestyle changes

Morning headaches, especially migraine attacks, can sometimes be relieved by lifestyle changes.
Following are the lifestyle habits to help manage headaches.

  • Sleep. Sleep on a regular schedule and in a healthy environment.
  • Exercise. Migraine attacks can be reduced by regular exercise.
  • Eat. Maintain a healthy diet and adequate hydration.
  • Diary. Keep a headache diary of date, severity, and probable causes of your headaches. This will allow your doctor diagnose the cause of your headache and migraine.
  • Stress. Practice meditation, yoga, journaling, or whatever practice helps calm you and lower stress levels in your life.

It is possible to reduce or eliminate your morning headaches by practicing good sleep hygiene and treating the disorder causing them. Make sure you discuss your treatment plan with your healthcare provider or the doctor.

Related: Afternoon headaches: Causes and treatment

If migraines or headaches plague you every day, With NeuroX, you can receive affordable psychiatric and neurology care right at your doorstep and enjoy the medical and emotional support. Head over to NeuroX right now to get started and get online consultations from a board-certified neurologist of your choice within 24-48 hours.

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