Waking Up with a Headache

Waking up in the morning is supposed to be an energetic and refreshing moment to start a new day. The last thing anybody wants or expects is to wake up with a headache. For some people, this nuisance makes them weary, and leaves them fatigued. However, for others the pain is so severe that they are completely debilitated by the throbbing pain. To manage the situation, first you need to know what causes it.

Why Do You Wake Up with a Headache?

Try to identify the culprit of your headache from the following causes. If the headache interrupts your daily life, make sure to seek medical help.

1.   Dehydration 

When your body becomes dehydrated, the brain tissue loses fluid and triggers pain receptors, causing a dehydration headache. As your body struggles to maintain enough fluids and necessary functions in the night, you’ll find yourself waking up with a headache.

2.   Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding

Jaw clenching and teeth grinding while sleeping are also known as bruxism. The constant tension during night can act as a precipitating mechanism for migraine and headaches. It can also lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder that could also create pounding-type headaches.

3.   Pregnancy

During pregnancy, especially the first trimester, your body experiences an increase in blood volume and a surge of hormones. These two changes can cause hormonal headaches. During the third trimester, tension from carrying more weight and poor posture may also contribute to headaches.

4.   Sleep Deprivation

A lack of sleep can trigger migraine headaches in the morning. This is especially important to those people who are already predisposed to migraine headaches. Any disruption of the sleeping cycle or a lack of deep sleep can cause headaches in the morning when you wake up.

5.   Caffeine Withdrawal

Although caffeine doesn’t directly cause a headache, too much caffeine can trigger what’s known as a headache rebound. The headache results from withdrawal of caffeine overnight, after a person continually consumes too much of the stuff during the day. People consume five or more cups of coffee per day will find themselves waking up with a headache.

6.   Hangover

Alcohol adversely affects the brain and blood vessels, and often triggers headaches after waking up. Unfortunately, people prone to migraines tend to have more problems with headaches from hangovers than others. Alcohol is also a diuretic which may lead to dehydration, further causing headaches in the morning.

7.   Medication

Medication can cause a rebound headache. What happens is your body gets too used to being in a medicated state, and when the medicine wears off, a migraine or headache occurs. If your medication schedule wears off every night, you may find yourself wake up with headache every morning.

8.   Sinuses

Your sinuses are air-filled cavities around your nose, eyes, and cheeks, and sinus headaches are caused by an inflammation within those cavities. One of the most striking characteristics about a sinus headache is that it almost always goes away during the night and comes back the next morning.

9.   Blood Sugar

A hypoglycemic headache in the morning is caused by low blood sugar levels. If your dietary habits and eating times aren’t always consistent, you should check your blood sugar levels before bedtime, and again in the morning when you wake up, adjusting it as necessary.

10.   Sleep Apnea

Waking up with a headache might be the result of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where you actually pause breathing for brief periods throughout the night. This not only causes you to not get enough air, it also disrupts your sleep, leaving you tired during the waking hours.

11.   Tension Headaches

The most common headache people experience is a tension headache. This type of headaches can be triggered by depression, stress, trauma, and anxiety. The pain can range anywhere from moderate to severe. The pain often starts at the back of the head and moves forward, so that it eventually includes your neck, and scalp.

12.   Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are the most painful headaches you can have. They are notorious for waking people up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain on one side. They usually center on the eye, and may radiate to other areas of the face and neck.

13.   Posture Headaches

Poor posture causes tension in your upper back, neck and shoulders. Typically, the throbbing pain begins at the base of the skull and sometimes radiates into the face, especially the forehead. Morning headaches are sometimes caused by sleeping with your neck twisted from an oversized pillow, or sleeping on your stomach.

When to See a Doctor

Unfortunately, severe headaches can be the result of other serious underlying conditions, such as recent trauma, tumor, or a ruptured vessel. Seek immediate medical care if you notice any of the following:
• Your headache continues to get worse.
• You recently experienced a head injury.
• Your headache is intense and abrupt.
• You experience a fever, mental confusion, numbness, nausea, vomiting or slurred speech.

How to Manage Waking Up with a Headache

1.   Try Therapeutic Skin Patches

Therapeutic skin patches are able to penetrate the skin to relieve aches and pains, making them ideal for treating posture headaches.

2.   Eat Evening Snack

Sometimes your headache can be avoided if low blood sugar is the culprit. Consider eating a snack before bedtime, or pushing your evening meal back an hour to keep your body sustained until morning.

3.   Keep Hydrated

Staying hydrated is the key to avoid any overnight dehydration-causing headache the next day. You may also want to keep some water at your bedside in case you wake up thirsty during the night.

4.   Take a Cold Shower

Some alcohol related headaches can be alleviated by taking a cold shower. Since alcohol dilates the blood vessels, a cold shower has a vasoconstrictive effect, causing your blood vessels to narrow.

5.   Do Physical Exercise                                                                                                  

Physical exercise improves the quality of your sleep, and can help you maintain a regular sleeping schedule. Try taking a walk or a jog outside during the early evening or some aerobics in the late afternoon to help ensure that your bedtime routine remains constant.

6.   Improve Sleep Posture

Try keeping your body properly aligned using a comfortable pillow that helps keep your head and neck in a neutral position. Prepare for colder temperatures that can increase tension in the head and neck by using an extra blanket.

7.   Massage the Head and Pressure Points

Massage can reduce the physical pain and provide you with a relaxed and pleasant feeling. This method is very effective for headaches caused by too much reading.

8.   Get Quality Sleep

Getting enough sleep gives the body time to rejuvenate. However, the quality of the rest is as important as the amount of rest you get on a daily basis. Try to establish a routine of retiring to bed and rising at the same times daily.

9.   Avoid Too Much Caffeine and Quit Smoking                                                                    

Caffeine in moderation can help you focus in the mornings. However, excess caffeine can make you cranky and cause headaches as well. Try to limit your caffeine consumption to two cups a day. If you smoke, consider quitting, as the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke will trigger headaches.

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