According to a study in 2020, waking up with headaches are becoming a growing concern for people. Waking up with headaches may occur once in a while, or may happen frequently. However, morning headaches can make you quite unpleasant without exceptions. Here are some information about the causes of waking up with headaches, and tips to prevent it, which may help you to get rid of the trouble.
Why do you wake up with headaches?
Migraine is a common genetic chronic disorder. Patients can develop strong headaches that often come with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. It can last hours or days. Migraines are more likely to strike in the early morning, causing you to wake up with severe throbbing pain. Other headaches tend to occur during sleep, such as hypnic and cluster headaches, which may also lead you to wake up with headaches.
Drinking alcohol may also contribute to waking up with headaches. First, excessive alcohol consumption can cause you to sleep unevenly, which can affect the quality of your sleep. Second, alcohol affects several neurotransmitters in your brain that are associated with headaches, which is a major reason why drinking can cause you to wake up with headaches. In addition, alcohol is also a diuretic and you may wake up to dehydration after drinking, which can exacerbate a hangover headache or cause you to wake up with headaches.
People are now increasingly exposed to blue light in both natural and artificial environments since LED devices such as laptops, cell phones, and tablets also emit blue light. Although there is no evidence that blue light directly triggers waking headaches, a study points out that sleep disorders and headaches are complementary. Sleep problems can lead to tension and migraines, while headaches can cause you to lose sleep.
Bruxism means you may grind your teeth while you sleep. Grinding teeth can create tension in the muscles of your jaw and face. This tension may lead you to wake up with headaches. These headaches caused by teeth grinding can usually be felt near the temples.
Poor sleep is also a major cause of waking up with headaches. Morning headaches are often accompanied by sleep disorders such as insomnia. If you often have trouble falling or staying asleep and don’t feel well-rested after a night of sleep, chances are you are experiencing a sleep disorder and it may contribute to your wake-up headaches.
6. Anxiety or Depression
Stress is one of the most common triggers of waking up with headaches. A study shows that anxiety and depression can lead to waking headaches. This is because your state of mental health can lead to insomnia. This may further increase your risk of morning headaches.
How to prevent waking up with headaches?
1. Get enough sleep and scheduled sleep
A good night’s sleep will keep you in a good mental state. First, you need to make sure you get enough sleep every day. For adults, it is reasonable to have seven to eight hours of sleep per day.
In addition, you need to make sure that you have a regular sleep schedule. For example, you may need to get up very early on weekdays and therefore want to get more rest on weekends. So you decide to get up later on the weekend to get enough sleep as you think you should. This sudden break in your sleep routine can cause you to wake up with headaches. The best thing you may do to avoid this is to stick to a sleep routine.
2. Sleep in a suitable environment
Sleeping in a suitable and comfortable environment is very important to ensure the quality of sleep, which can help you fall asleep faster and smoother to get more adequate and high-quality sleep. Then you may have chances to get rid of waking up with headaches. For example, you may create these conditions when sleeping：
- Comfortable bedding and mattresses
- Quiet and clean rooms
- Relaxing sounds
- Dimmed lights
- Suitable temperatures
These can all be better for you to fall asleep. You can adjust to your preferences and find the best sleep environment for you.
3. Reduce touching blue-light before bedtime
Some electronic devices such as cell phones or computers emit blue light, which can cause you to wake up with a headache. If you are experiencing a waking headache, you can first try to reduce the time to use electronic devices before going to bed, which may help you feel more refreshed when you wake up the next day.
In addition, if you have to use these devices before bed for reasons such as work or school, there are some tips you can use to try to avoid getting a wake-up headache caused by blue light:
- Adjust the screen light to a warm tone
- Increase the distance between your body and the screen
- Take breaks in between
- Keep your eyes moist
These can reduce the damage caused by blue light to a certain extent so that you can try to avoid you waking up with headaches.
4. Take stress-relieving activities
Be aware that stress is a very important willingness that causes you to wake up with a headache. Therefore, stress release activities become necessary this is one of the biggest triggers of migraine pain. You may try to avoid arranging your daily schedule and then take some time to enjoy the things you like.
Alternatively, you may try meditation. Meditation is an activity to help you achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state, which may offer you a relax better before bedtime and get a quality night’s sleep. Therefore, it is a nice method for you to get rid of waking up with headaches through learning some simple meditation for beginners.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise has many benefits for your body. One of them is that regular exercise can make you have a better night’s sleep, which may effectively reduce the possibility of you waking up with headaches.
In addition, if you are suffering from an attack on a wake-up headache, you can also try to perform exercises to relieve your pain. Whether it’s stretching, yoga, or simple muscle relaxation, you can relieve your wake-up headache to some extent. For example, massaging your feet to relax them can relieve tension in other parts of your body including your head.
6. Avoid heavy meals and stimulants
Eating too much before bed or eating stimulating foods such as alcohol may interrupt your sleep at night and you may wake up repeatedly during the night to cause a waking headache due to lack of sleep. Alcohol also increases your likelihood of getting a migraine, making waking up more painful.
Therefore, you need to avoid eating a lot of food, especially stimulating food, before going to bed. This will avoid the great pain of waking up due to, for example, a hangover.
If you wake up with headaches that are not very severe, you can get a good night’s sleep with the aid of apps such as MindZone for getting relaxing sounds, sleep stories, and meditation exercises to relieve symptoms. But if your waking headache is very severe, it is essential to seek professional medical help. They can better help you with your pains.
-  Burish, M. J., Chen, Z., & Yoo, S. H. (2019). Emerging relevance of circadian rhythms in headaches and neuropathic pain. Acta physiologica (Oxford, England), 225(1), e13161. https://doi.org/10.1111/apha.13161
-  Fernández-de-Las-Peñas, César et al. (2017). Sleep disturbances in tension-type headache and migraine. Therapeutic advances in neurological disorders, 11, 1756285617745444. https://doi.org/10.1177/1756285617745444
-  Palacios-Ceña, María et al. (2017). The association of headache frequency with pain interference and the burden of disease is mediated by depression and sleep quality, but not anxiety, in chronic tension type headache. The journal of headache and pain, 18(1), 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s10194-017-0730-5