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Morning Headache: What Causes It and How Can It Be Prevented?

Morning Headache: What Causes It and How Can It Be Prevented?

Experiencing a morning headache can be a jarring experience. Imagine waking up, barely awake, and you suddenly feel a pounding headache that can persist throughout the day. Definitely not a good way to start the day.

But what exactly causes a person to have a headache in the morning? Can it be a warning sign of a more serious illness? And what can you do in order to prevent it?

What does a morning headache mean?

As the name suggests, a morning headache is a type of headache that happens in the morning. It usually starts right when a person wakes up and can persist throughout the day.

Morning headaches are not limited to just one type of headache. Some people can experience migraines, cluster headaches, or even tension headaches as soon as they wake up. Though, it’s also possible that a headache can wake a person up when they’re asleep.

Dealing with morning headaches can be difficult, as the sudden pain and discomfort can catch you off guard. This makes morning headaches extremely uncomfortable and can make you feel tired, fatigued, sleepy, or even irritated.

What can cause a morning headache?

Morning headaches can be caused by a number of things. Here are some of the more common causes of morning headaches:

Sleep deprivation

The most common cause of morning headaches is sleep deprivation. Sleep allows our mind and body to recharge, which is why we usually feel great when we’ve had a good night’s rest.

On the other hand, if you haven’t had enough sleep, or if your sleep is interrupted, then your body and mind hasn’t had enough time to recharge. This means that you can potentially experience headaches in the morning, as well as various other symptoms such as fatigue, tiredness, and irritability.

Morning headaches can also lead to a cycle of sleep deprivation. What happens is that the headache can persist throughout the day, and make it difficult for a person to rest or fall asleep. This, in turn, causes them to have another morning headache the next day, and the cycle repeats itself.

Migraines

Migraines can also be another reason for a person to experience headaches in the morning. What happens is that while a person is asleep, a migraine attack starts to happen. Because of the pain, it wakes a person up and causes them to experience a morning headache.

A big problem with migraines in the morning is that it can cause a person to have sleep deprivation. And sleep deprivation is a known trigger for migraine, which means that it can start a cycle of headaches in the morning.

Interestingly, oversleeping can also sometimes be a trigger for migraines. So it is important to just get the right amount of sleep.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition wherein a person experiences interrupted breathing while they are asleep. This is usually associated with snoring, but sleep apnea can also cause a person to have a morning headache.

This is because snoring too loud, and the disruption of breathing caused by sleep apnea can cause a person to suddenly wake up while they’re sleeping. This can disrupt their regular sleep cycle, and cause morning headaches.

Anxiety

Anxiety can sometimes be a possible cause of a morning headache. This can happen because persons with anxiety can sometimes find it hard to sleep, or find themselves awake in the middle of the night having a panic attack.

This interruption of sleep can in turn lead to headaches when they wake up, and can persist throughout the day.

Another important thing to note is that persons with anxiety tend to experience more migraines compared to persons without anxiety. This is because migraines can sometimes be a physical symptom of anxiety. So this can also be a possible cause of a morning headache.

What can you do about it?

Here are some things that you can do if you are prone to morning headaches:

  • Try to sleep early in order to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Avoid taking pain medication right before going to sleep, as this can cause headaches.
  • Don’t drink alcohol to fall asleep, as it only makes headaches worse.
  • Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Eat a balanced diet with a lot of vegetables and fruits.
  • Avoid drinking too much coffee or caffeinated drinks.

Don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you follow the steps above and don’t see any improvement in your sleep cycle.

Learn more about Headaches and Migraines here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Morning Headache as an Obstructive Sleep Apnea-Related Symptom among Sleep Clinic Patients—A Cross-Section Analysis, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7016602/, Accessed April 21, 2021

Waking Up With a Headache? – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/waking-up-with-a-headache/, Accessed April 21, 2021

Why You’re Waking up with Headaches | Sleep.org, https://www.sleep.org/waking-up-with-headache/, Accessed April 21, 2021

Early Morning Awakening Headache • National Headache Foundation, https://headaches.org/2007/10/25/early-morning-awakening-headache/, Accessed April 21, 2021

Morning headaches in patients with sleep disorders: a systematic polysomnographic study – PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14592279/, Accessed April 21, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jul 14
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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