Most Common Causes Of A Morning Headache

If your day starts with a pounding headache, you’re not alone. Morning headaches, or headaches at any time of the day, are a common problem to millions of people.

In most cases, it is just a type of migraine, while in others it is usually something more serious. Regardless of the reason behind it, if you start your day with a headache, there’s a good reason for it.

Most Common Causes Of Morning Headaches

Morning headaches may happen for a number of reasons. Once in a while, you can experience it after a poor night’s sleep or when you are going through strong stress. Morning headaches are actually so often that 1 in 13 people experience them on a daily level.

Even sleep disorder can interfere with your morning, and result in morning headaches. Actually, people with a sleep disorder are 2 to 8 times more likely to have a morning headache, opposite to those without a sleep disorder.

The most common causes of morning headaches:


If you had a little too much drinks you can expect a hangover the following morning. Moreover, if you even had one glass of stronger night cup you can expect the same outcome – morning headache. The reason behind this is actually rather simple – when you drink, alcohol pushes your body to make more urine, which can cause you to become dehydrated.

In addition, alcohol is responsible for bigger blood vessels, which can lead to headaches. After a night of good drink you can expect to experience:

  • Poor sleep
  • Moodiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heavy thirst
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Tired feeling
  • Dizziness

If you feel more severe symptoms like slow and heavy breathing, confusion, loss of consciousness, or seizures, make sure that you get medical help as soon as possible.


This is one of the most common symptoms when it comes to morning headache. Actually, it affects more than 10% of people worldwide.

How to know if you are experiencing migraine? If along with head pain you experience one of the following symptoms, you are experiencing a migraine:

  • you feel nauseous or sick.
  • your vision is not clear.
  • you are extremely sensitive to sounds, light, or smells.
  • symptoms last between 4-72 hours.

The general rule for migraines is that each one is different for everybody and each one is complicated. Some people just experience headache pain, while others experience even strong visual disturbances.

Fast fact: Women are three times more likely to experience a migraine, especially during their menstrual period.

Sleep Apnea

This condition leads to collapsing of throat muscles while you sleep. By doing so your breathing will be disrupted. Most common signs of sleep apnea are:

This is a serious condition that should be treated seriously and on time, so make sure to talk with your doctor about it and do a sleep test. Small changes, like rolling off your back while you sleep or losing weight could help. In other cases, it might be necessary to invest in a cpap or a bipap machine.


Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders of the modern man. It affects directly your sleep and causes sleep deprivation.

Insomnia can prevent you from getting enough sleep by:

  • Causing restless sleep.
  • Awakening you during your sleep.
  • Keeping you up when you want to sleep.

Insomnia can be treated only by joined efforts with your doctor. Your doctor may track your sleep patterns in order to help diagnose the condition. Treating insomnia can include taking medications, getting the right therapy, or simply trying a combination of medications and therapy.

Other sleep disorders

There is a strong link between morning headache and numerous sleep disorders. The link between headache and sleep is a tricky one and it comes with numerous complications and different outcomes. The truth is that sleep disorders are linked with morning headaches, and 70 million Americans with a sleep disorder could confirm this.

For example, if you find it hard to stay asleep or to get to sleep, you are experiencing insomnia, and if you are experiencing circadian rhythm sleep disorders you will eventually experience morning headaches. If you have regular morning headaches and you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you are suffering from a sleep disorder:

  • you forget things a lot
  • you are often depressed
  • you have trouble concentrating
  • you are often sleepy during the daytime
  • you often can’t fall asleep

If one or more symptoms you read here resonate with what you’re experiencing, you should visit your doctor because the chances are that you are living with a sleep disorder.

Why Do I Have A Headache When I Wake Up Every Morning?

Your body’s level of internal pain in the early morning hours are significantly lowered. Also, during this time your body makes more adrenalin, which can result in migraine headaches.

The most common reasons for morning headaches are a sleep disorder and a lack of quality sleep. Also, one of the most common reasons behind morning headaches is actually seen in rather ordinary symptoms, listed below.

Tooth Grinding

Bruxism, or tooth grinding can lead to waking up with a strong headache. Much gum chewing or grinding your teeth at night can lead to a morning headache.

Your dentist can help with this condition, as he, or she, can prescribe an oral device to keep you from grinding your teeth at night. Always visit your doctor if you are experiencing one of the following symptoms:

  • you have clicking in the joint
  • your joint is swollen
  • your joint just locks up

Using The Wrong Pillow

Sometimes it can be that simple. When your scalp muscles are strained, especially if they are held in the same position for a long time (overnight), headaches happen. Therefore, make sure to always have the right pillow, that will keep your neck and head in a neutral position (neutral position means as if you were standing). Also, make sure that you are sleeping in a room with proper sleeping temperature.


This is a massive problem for many couples nowadays. If you are lucky enough to have a partner that will tell you about your snoring issue than you are on a winning track toward better health and mornings without headaches. Snoring is a high risk factor for chronic headaches. In addition, it can also be a clear sign of sleep apnea. That being said, make sure that you visit your doctor as soon as you get a chance.

Sleep movement disorders such as restless leg syndrome, can lead to unexpected pain in sleep, which results in morning headache.

Interestingly, other disorders such as depression and anxiety can lead to strong migraines, which may lead further to strong emotional distress. Again, these two can be linked with insomnia as well, so it is crucial to have regular medical check-ups and talks with your doctor.

Migraines And Morning Headaches

The most common reason for waking up with a headache is linked with strong migraines. Early in the morning is the most common hour for migraine occurrence. This is part of the day when people are most vulnerable. Many people will simply be asleep when the headache begins, so they will miss for sure the time to take migraine medicine. There are even migraines that occur exclusively during sleep, such as hypnic and cluster headache.

  1. Hypnic headache: this headache is known as a headache disorder that occurs only during sleep. This headache is known as ‘alarm clock headache’ because it can occur at night and awaken the person from a firm sleep. These headaches can last between 15 minutes and 4 hours. In some cases, it can be followed with symptoms like nausea, sound or light sensitivity.
  2. Cluster headache: this is one more headache that may develop during sleep. That act fast and can occur within an hour of falling asleep. The pain tends to be severe and can last between 20 minutes to even 3 hours. Some of the following symptoms include redness, tearing of the eye, and drooping of the eyelid.

The link between sleep, headache, and mood is a strong one and results in the same brain regions and chemical messengers that impact sleep. Poor sleep or simply inadequate sleep leads to mood change and strong headache.

For example, people living with migraine who experience insomnia suffer from depression or even anxiety which are common migraine comorbidities. Therefore, an effective migraine treatment plan is the ideal solution for better sleep, so make sure that you visit your doctor and inform him on your symptoms so he, or she, can set proper diagnose and prescribe an adequate therapy.

How Can I Stop Waking Up With A Headache?

You have to re-think your sleep hygiene. There are certain changes that you have to apply in your everyday life in order to have an adequate sleep style and mornings without headaches.

The first thing is the most important one – make sure that your room is adequate for sleep, meaning that you should have proper bedding, mattress, and pillow. Also, have a bedtime routine, and switch night cup for good sleep tea.

Avoid any kind of headache-trigger substances such as alcohol or caffeine. Even if you are a tech-savvy make sure that you leave your tech-gear out of your bedroom and have a sleep and headache diary instead. By doing so you will have insight on your health and sleep cycle. If you feel that you need additional help you can seek out alternative therapies or reach out to sleep professionals.

When To See A Doctor?

To some people, morning headache is an everyday problem. They are dealing with it on a daily basis and it’s part of their life.

Basically, not everyone with early morning headache will automatically need to see a doctor. But if you are experiencing any of the signs below you should see a doctor:

  • if you experience two or more headaches in a week
  • strong headache is accompanies by a stiff neck
  • you had a head injury and the headache occured
  • chronic headache in children
  • headache followed with weaknesses
  • headache with seizures or shortness of breath

Waking Up With A Headache – Key Takeaways

Headaches are awful at any time, and especially if you get one in the A.M.
It is a sure way to get your day off to an awful start. Unfortunately, you are not the only person who struggles with these. Morning headaches are very common and they can happen for a variety of different reasons. In most cases, they happen when you least expect them.

But, if you are regularly getting morning head pain, there just might be a specific reason why you are getting them in the first place. You can’t know the reason behind it if you don’t visit your doctor and inform him, or she, about symptoms. Your doctor is the only one that can set the right diagnose and set the proper treatment guidelines.