You have a big day tomorrow so you decided to hit the sack early. Morning comes and you wake up to a dull and throbbing headache. This is not how you envision starting your day. Waking up with a bad headache is not only unpleasant but can also affect your entire day. However, this is not uncommon. 50% of migraines happen between 4:00 - 9:00 AM. It's no wonder that 80% of people that suffer from recurring migraine wake up still feeling exhausted. Before we can find a cure, it is important that we diagnose the cause behind waking up with a throbbing headache to deal with it better.
What Causes Headache After Waking Up?
Wide awake with insomnia
Insomnia is one of the most common reasons of headaches in the morning. Tossing and turning around the whole night can certainly make you feel tired and exhausted. It's no wonder that you wake up with a bad headache if you've been up all night.
Lavender oil works wonders in alleviating headaches caused by insomnia. You can either inhale it or apply topically. Plus, the smell of lavender oil would instantly bring relief.
Headaches associated with snoring
You were not aware of it until your partner can't stand it anymore and complain that you've been snoring too loud the whole night.
Snoring doesn’t just disturb the person who's sleeping next to you but it's also the reason why you wake up with a headache.
Snoring accompanied with morning headaches could be a telltale sign of sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Don't take this lightly as this is a dangerous condition where your breathing stops briefly during the night.
To cure headaches associated with snoring, it is important to visit the doctor to know the root cause of a possible sleep disorder. Visit a physician to get professional treatment for sleep apnea.
Tooth grinding leads to morning headaches
Another possible cause of waking up with headaches is bruxism, or in a layman's term, tooth grinding. This habit of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw are often associated with stress and anxiety and results to a headache in the morning.
To stop the nocturnal habit of tooth grinding, look for effective ways to manage your stress. Having a regular exercise, meditation, healthy diet and spending time with loved ones are sure ways to help you cope with stress.
Using the wrong pillow
Even the most innocent pillow can be a cause why you wake up with a dull headache. Headaches may occur when scalp and neck muscles are strained and have been on the same position for a long period.
Preventing headaches caused by wrong pillow can simply be remedied by a trip to the department store. Choose a pillow that will keep your neck and head in a neutral position.
This is one of the most common types of headaches that are often mistaken for migraines.
What's the difference between the two?
Unlike migraine, tension headache does not come with sensitivity to our light, nausea and physical activity doesn't make it worst. You would know that you have a tension headache when you feel an aching and dull form of pain in the head and a feeling of pressure on the back and side of the head, or on the forehead.
One of the most common treatments for tension headaches is taking over the counter pain relievers and prescription medications. Other home remedies that offer relief are flaxseed, lavender oil and peppermint.
Waking up with headaches can also be caused by improper sleeping position. You wake up with a sore skull when you put too much pressure on your shoulders or neck part.
Watching your posture can avoid headaches. You should stand up straight or sit down with your shoulder down and back. Forehead's main sensory nerve is located at the base of the neck which is why you feel headache when there is a muscle tension in your shoulders or base of your neck.
High or low blood sugar
Our blood sugar can drop or spike when we go without food for long hours, like when we are asleep for 6-8 hours. Headaches caused by low-blood sugar occur because your brain does not get the amount of glucose it needs to properly function.
You need to stabilize your blood sugar to avoid headaches in the morning. Avoid triggers such as eating high-sugar foods, fasting, going on a rigorous diet and skipping meals.
Are you awakened by a sharp, penetrating headache in the middle of the night or early morning?
This kind of headache is called cluster headaches where the pain is usually focused on one eye but can also affect other areas such as neck, face and shoulders.
The causes and triggers of cluster headaches are relatively unknown; however avoiding alcoholic beverages can lower the risk of getting cluster headaches.
Infection or allergic reaction can inflame the sinuses and you can feel pain like a headache when there’s a buildup pressure in this area. The pain can get stronger if you suddenly move your head.
To avoid waking up with headaches associated with sinus, stay away from allergens such as dust, pollens, etc.
Overuse of medication
This type of headache is a chronic headache which happens when you take more than the prescribed medication. Discontinue the overused medication to stop the headache associated with it.
As the name implies, this headache is caused when we don’t have enough fluid in our body. This is the type of headache that can easily be remedied and avoided. To get relief, it is advisable that you increase the fluid intake, avoid heat and too much physical activity to reduce sweating and drink energy or sports drinks to replace lost electrolytes.
When to See a Doctor
We should never take headaches for granted as they could be symptoms of serious diseases like ruptured vessel, tumor or trauma. Consult your doctor when you experience any of the following:
Intense and abrupt headache
Headaches that get worst over time or change its pattern
Headaches caused by recent head injury
When you have fever, numbness, nausea, mental confusion or having difficulty talking
Sudden and severe headaches