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Why Do I Wake Up with a Headache?

Reviewed on 9/18/2020

What Causes A Person to Wake Up with a Headache?

Headache upon waking can be caused by migraines, sleep apnea, tooth grinding or medications, among other causes.
Headache upon waking can be caused by migraines, sleep apnea, tooth grinding or medications, among other causes.

Headaches are a common occurrence, and people with sleep disorders have more headaches than the overall population. 

Some causes of waking up with a headache include: 

What Symptoms Accompany Waking Up with a Headache?

Symptoms that may accompany waking up with a headache depend on the cause and may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Snoring
    • May be a symptom of sleep apnea, which can be dangerous: see a doctor
  • Tooth grinding (bruxism)
    • Sore and aching jaw
    • Using the wrong pillow
    • Sore neck and upper back 
  • Sleeping in a room that’s too cold
    • Head and neck tension
  • Hangover 
  • Migraine 
  • Medication overuse headache (MOH)
  • Brain tumor
    • Seizures  
    • Problems thinking and/or speaking 
    • Changes in personality 
    • Tingling on one side of the body 
    • Stiffness on one side of the body 
    • Loss of balance 
    • Vision changes 
    • Memory loss 
    • Nausea 
    • Disorientation 
    • Fatigue 
    • Muscle weakness 
    • Anxiety
    • Depression

SLIDESHOW

16 Surprising Headache Triggers and Tips for Pain Relief See Slideshow

What Is the Treatment for Waking Up with a Headache?

Treatment for waking up with a headache depends on the cause. 

  • Insomnia
  • Snoring
  • Tooth grinding (bruxism)
  • Using the wrong pillow
    • Experiment with different types of pillows that are meant for your sleep position
  • Sleeping in a room that’s too cold 
    • Warm up the room 
  • Hangover 
    • Prevention is best: avoid or limit alcohol consumption
    • Drink plenty of water 
    • Get plenty of rest
    • Don’t smoke
  • Migraine 
    • Pain relievers, including over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
    • Migraine headache medications 
    • Anti-emetics to reduce nausea and vomiting
  • Medication overuse headache (MOH)
    • Discontinuation of overused medication 
    • Do not stop taking any prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor
  • Brain tumor

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Reviewed on 9/18/2020
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