Sleep Apnea

Are You Waking Up With Headaches?


Topics: Sleep Apnea, Insomnia

If you are wondering why you are waking up with headaches almost every day, you might want to check this out. There can be various reasons behind waking up with headaches. You can wake up with a headache because of dehydration, sleep apnea, other sleep-related disorders, insomnia, migraine, bruxism, and more. It is important to get good sleep hygiene to prevent waking up with headaches as this can disturb your daily lifestyle and day-to-day activities to a great extent. You need to avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking and consumption of alcohol and take up healthy habits to make your lifestyle better. If you are someone who is suffering from migraine headaches are really common especially in the early hours of the morning whenever you are exposed to the rays of the Sun. However, if you are not someone who has migraine already then there might be a different cause behind you waking up with headaches. In this article we are going to dive deeper and to the causes, symptoms, treatment and diagnosis about early morning headaches. By the end of the article you will get to know a lot about morning headaches, learn how to manage them and when to consult a doctor and seek help.

Causes behind waking up with headaches

If you are waking up with headaches and experiencing early morning headaches quite frequently, there might be several reasons behind it including dehydration, sleep apnea, other sleep-related disorders, insomnia, migraine, bruxism and more. Let us dive into the details of the causes behind why an individual wakes up with headaches.

1. Sleep Apnea

If your breathing stops temporarily for a short period of time when you are sleeping, you are probably experiencing sleep apnea. People who suffer from sleep apnea often experience early morning headaches. They can also wake up frequently have an unbalanced and disorganized sleeping schedule, snore loudly, may make gasping sounds while sleeping, might feel sleepy in the daytime, and experience mood changes and swings. If you are facing mild sleep apnea you might not require treatment but if the symptoms are disrupting your daily lifestyle to a great extent and you keep having headaches that could be related to this condition you might want to get it treated. Here are a few tips that you can follow:

  • Maintaining a balanced and healthy body weight
  • Discard leading an unhealthy lifestyle and habits
  • Instead of sleeping on your back you can sleep on the side
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol especially before sleeping and going to bed
  • Avoid consuming sleeping pills unless it is recommended to you by a doctor

If you are experiencing sleep apnea and your symptoms are quite severe the doctor may recommend you to take up certain methods of sleep therapy and usage of sleep therapy devices and machines such as the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine and BiPaP machine (by level positive airway pressure). Sleep apnea can increase the risk of certain conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. 

2. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a condition where your brain is unable to control your ability to stay awake or sleep. People who suffer from this condition often fall asleep during the day. It is a sleep disorder in which the person suffering from it finds it extremely difficult to resist the urge to fall asleep during that time. This condition is widely known even though it is not very common because the symptoms of narcolepsy can bring about significant obstacles and hurdles in the day-to-day life and activities of an individual. However, with proper care, diagnosis, and treatment it is possible to have this condition under control and manage being subjected to the effects of the sleep disorder. This is why people tend to refer to health care providers and medical practitioners for getting diagnosed and treated. With suitable treatment, diagnosis, care, and precautions- it is absolutely possible for you to have this condition under control. 

Other Symptoms of Narcolepsy include:

  • Inability to resist the urge to sleep during day time
  • Cataplexy which refers to sudden muscle weakness
  • Patients suffering from narcolepsy might experience visual, auditory or sensory hallucinations either right before waking up or right after falling asleep.
  • Headaches
  • Sleep paralysis which occurs when an individual gains consciousness but their body is still in the paralyzed or sleeping state
  • Changes in Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM) 
  • Other symptoms

3. Dehydration

Dehydration can cause headaches and headaches can be a symptom of hydration. If you are someone who goes to sleep thirsty or someone who does not drink enough water all throughout the day, you are highly likely to suffer from dehydration. Especially if you go to sleep thirsty you might become mildly dehydrated overnight. As a result, you will definitely wake up the next day with a bad morning headache. 

Other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Feeling dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dark yellow urine

The one and only solution to dehydration is to drink plenty of water all throughout the day and evening so that you do not wake up the next day feeling dehydrated. The notable tips include incorporating water content, fruits, and fluids in your diet with each meal, carrying a bottle of water to work, keeping water always next to your bed that you can drink during the night whenever you are thirsty, and drinking a full glass of water after waking up. 

4. Headache disorders

Headache disorders are a group of conditions that result in frequent headaches. These include migraine, hypnic headaches, and cluster headaches. The most common time for migraine episodes to happen is early morning and therefore my grain is a very common reason behind you waking up with a bad headache. You are probably experiencing a migraine episode if you occasionally wake up with moderate or severe head pain along with other related conditions such as nausea and sensitivity to light. Hypnic headaches are also known as alarm clock headaches because they cause people to wake up from their sleep. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for migraine but consulting a doctor or a health care provider can be helpful as they will prescribe medications such as triptans that will stop the progression of migraine attacks. As soon as you wake up with a headache, it is important to take the medicines as it can help to reduce the symptoms. 

It is important to have a healthy sleep schedule to avoid migraine episodes. It is noticed that most of the people with insomna suffer from migraines. Therefore here are certain tips that you can follow to adapt to a healthy sleeping schedule and healthy sleeping habits :

  • Going to sleep and baking up every day at the same time even during weekends
  • Avoid using any kind of digital screen during the hours right before going to sleep
  • Adapt a relaxing bedtime routine or a sleeping ritual
  • Meditating to calm yourself down
  • Avoid overthinking as much as possible

5. Bruxism

Bruxism is a disorder that is related to tension and it can cause an individual to grind or clench the teeth out of anxiety or tension, even when they are sleeping or when they are still wide awake. However, they might not realize that they are indeed grinding their teeth which means this occurs in the subconscious state of mind. If you are waking up with early morning headaches, it is a potential symptom of Bruxism. 

Other symptoms of Bruxism include:

  • Unexplained flattened, chipped or fractured teeth
  • A feeling of tenderness or pain in the jaw or face
  • Facing difficulty while opening and closing the jaw completely
  • Fatigued jaw muscles
  • Unnecessary pain in the ear
  • Sensitivity and pain in the teeth
  • Unexplained damage to the inside of your cheek
  • Disturbed and disrupted sleeping pattern

Treatment for Bruxism includes:

  • Seeking effective treatment for tension, anxiety, and stress
  • Using a mouth guard at night might be helpful
  • Adapting yourself to a good sleeping schedule that is going to sleep every day at the same time and waking up at the same time every day even during weekends
  • Taking certain medications such as beta blockers, antidepressants, and muscle relaxants. 
  • Keep yourself hydrated and unlimit or avoid the consumption of alcohol, recreational drugs, and tobacco

6. Depression and anxiety

Several disorders and conditions are closely related to depression and anxiety. Waking up with headaches or early morning headaches can be very closely related to depression and anxiety as well. This is because the pressure and anxiety disturb your sleeping schedules which leads to serious headaches. Along with headaches, depression and anxiety can cause the following: 

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Sleeping overtime or not getting an adequate amount of sleep
  • Overconsumption of food or being unable to consume as much food as required
  • Lack of appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Feelings of emptiness, numbness or sadness
  • Slow movements or slow speech
  • Restlessness and frequently worrying or feeling alert
  • Sweating
  • Muscle tension

The most common way to treat depression and anxiety involves counseling and talk therapy. People also try certain medications such as antidepressants and follow Strategies and techniques that help people to cope with their problems and relax. However, an important fact that is to be noted is that antidepressants do have Side effects such as headaches, insomnia, and worsened anxiety. 

Other causes 

There are a few other health conditions that might be associated with headaches. Certain health conditions may exert pressure on nerve endings which are sensitive to pain, especially around the head of a person resulting in a secondary headache. Other conditions that might be associated with secondary headaches include

  • Head trauma
  • A traumatic injury in the head
  • Brain tumor
  • High Blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral Venous thrombosis


There can be various reasons behind waking up with headaches. You can wake up with a headache because of dehydration, sleep apnea, other sleep-related disorders, insomnia, migraine, bruxism, and more. It is important to get good sleep hygiene to prevent waking up with headaches as this can disturb your daily lifestyle and day-to-day activities to a great extent. You need to avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking and consumption of alcohol and take up healthy habits to make your lifestyle better. If your early morning headaches are associated with serious problems such as fever, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness confusion weakness, double vision loss of consciousness, seizures, shortness of breath, and more you should definitely consult a doctor as soon as possible. It is important to stick to a healthy lifestyle which includes improved sleep hygiene, reduced or no consumption of alcohol and tobacco, drinking plenty of water, and taking medications when required and as prescribed. Hope you found this article helpful. 

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