If there’s one thing guaranteed to get your day off to a bad start, it’s a splitting headache first thing in the morning. But if you often find yourself waking up with a headache, you’re not alone. Around 8 percent of the general population experience morning headaches – with self-inflicted hangovers being far from the only cause.
Indeed, falling asleep and waking up with a headache isn’t that unusual or unexpected if you’ve had a few too many drinks. But when you can’t pinpoint the reason why you’re always waking up with a thumping behind your eyes or tension in your temples, it’s time to investigate.
Keep reading to learn some potential reasons for waking up with a headache and what you can do about them.
Waking up with a slight headache every morning could be your body’s way of telling you that you’re dehydrated. Dehydration can cause the brain to shrink and pull back from your skull. This then results in what can be quite a painful headache.
If you know you’re not getting your eight glasses of water a day, take steps to change this by taking a refillable water bottle everywhere you go. Aim to sip from it throughout the day and then drink more water at mealtimes. If dehydration was the reason that you were waking up with a headache every day, you should see an improvement within a week or so.
You Drank Alcohol Last Night
Dehydration is also one of the main reasons that a few drinks at night can cause morning headaches. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that you pee more when you drink it and are more likely to wake up dehydrated as a result.
That said, your headaches might also indicate a sensitivity to certain drinks, such as dark liquors or red wine. If that’s the case, waking up with a headache after only one glass can be a common occurrence.
To avoid alcohol-induced headaches, make sure to drink water whenever you indulge. And, if there’s a drink that seems to always give you a morning headache no matter how little you drink of it, the simplest solution is to avoid it in the future.
You Have Insomnia
Another of the main causes of waking up with a headache every day is insomnia. Not getting enough sleep can cause headaches in general, but sleeping badly the night before could be contributing to your head killing you in the morning.
That said, the relationship between headaches and insomnia is a little more complicated than direct cause and effect. There could be a root cause of both, such as poor sleeping habits or certain mental conditions such as depression and anxiety.
A healthy sleep routine including no screen-time before bed and sleeping in a cool, dark room can help. But, to get to the bottom of what’s causing your insomnia (and possibly your morning headaches), you should also talk to your doctor.
Your Headaches Are Migraines
Migraines can occur at any time of the day or night, so if you’re falling asleep and waking up with a headache, it could be that your migraine came on during the night. What’s more, migraine studies indicate that migraines are cyclical, meaning that people who have migraines tend to get them around the same time of day.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to control whether you get migraines as they’re often genetic. Identifying and managing your triggers can help though. Stress, diet, alcohol, and poor sleep are some of the key triggers so try to avoid these as much as possible. And, if you haven’t seen a specialist yet, this can help to pinpoint your unique triggers and any potential treatments.
You’re Experiencing Caffeine Withdrawal
For coffee lovers, caffeine withdrawal can be one of the main causes of waking up with a headache.
Caffeine can have an impact on blood flow to the brain. Having fewer cups than usual can cause neurological side effects similar to other forms of drug withdrawal, including a raging headache. And, since most people drink coffee in the morning, this headache can come on first thing.
The best way to avoid getting into this cycle is to avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon. And, if you’re trying to cut down or go caffeine-free, drink a combination of regular coffee and decaf to wean yourself off. Start by mixing a quarter cup of decaf and three-quarters regular coffee, slowly winding down to all decaf over the course of a few weeks.
You Clench Your Teeth at Night
The tension and jaw pain from clenching teeth at night can also be a cause of morning headaches. After an extended period of teeth grinding and clenching, pain and even spasms can slow through your facial muscles, neck, and shoulders.
Teeth grinding also causes tension in your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and changes in the positioning of your jaw. The resulting headache often comes with tightness in your jaw, earache, and sensitivity or pain in your teeth. So, if it’s not only your head that’s bothering you in the morning, it could be time to see your dentist. They can then prescribe an oral protective device that stops you from grinding your teeth at night.
How to Avoid Waking Up With a Headache
If you often find yourself waking up with a headache, finding a solution often involves addressing the root of the problem, whether that’s a caffeine addiction or your teeth-grinding habit.
This change, in combination with healthy practices like drinking more water and following a sleep routine, will then ensure that you wake up headache-free now and in the future.
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