Why Am I Waking Up With a Headache Every Morning?

It can be tough to figure out whether you have sleep apnea on your own, but if your partner complains that you snore a lot, you often feel tired even though you’ve gotten enough sleep, and you’re having morning headaches, it’s time to talk to a sleep specialist, Dr. Williams says.

3. You’re experiencing a migraine attack. 

Migraine headaches can occur at any time, but plenty of people develop them overnight or early in the morning. One older study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain found that migraine attacks follow a cycle, meaning people who have migraine typically get episodes in the same window of time.2 So it’s possible that the headache you keep waking up with is actually a migraine attack that hits while you’re sleeping.

Migraine is a genetically-inherited neurological condition, which means it can be difficult to control migraine attacks, Amit Sachdev, MD, an assistant professor and director of the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine at Michigan State University, tells SELF. The good news? There are many to manage your symptoms.

A good place to start is identifying your migraine triggers—stress, poor sleep, and diet are some of the biggies, Dr. Sachdev says. Avoid them as much as you can. And if you’re pretty sure you have migraine, make an appointment with a neurologist, who can help you come up with a treatment plan.

4. Maybe you’re going through caffeine withdrawal.

This is most common in people who chug coffee from morning till night, but it can happen to anyone. Why? Caffeine may impact blood flow to the brain, Dr. Sachdev says, and if you don’t have as much as usual, it can cause neurological side effects that are similar to withdrawal from other drugs like alcohol (yes, caffeine is considered a drug). A big part of that is a raging headache. And since many people drink coffee in the morning, it can come on first thing.

To combat caffeine-withdrawal headaches, try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon, Jennifer Kriegler, MD, a physician in the Center for Headache and Pain at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. And be sure to wean yourself off slowly. She recommends substituting a quarter cup of your regular coffee with decaf, and then gradually decreasing how much caffeine you have over time.

5. You could be grinding your teeth at night. 

Grinding your teeth can cause tension in your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), which connect your lower jaw to your skull in front of your ear, and it can also cause changes in the positioning of your jaw, Dr. Sachdev says. All this leads to tension, which can escalate into a headache. On top of a headache, you might also feel tightness or pain in your jaw, pain that feels like an earache, or pain or sensitivity in your teeth.

If you suspect that your morning headaches are due to teeth grinding (or your dentist has flagged you as a grinder), talk to your doctor about next steps, which can include wearing a protective bite guard at night, Dr. Kriegler says.

6. You had an alcoholic beverage (or several) before bed.

Whether you had one glass of wine with dinner or were at a bar until 4 am, drinking can cause you to wake up with a headache. That’s because alcohol has an effect on several neurotransmitters in your brain associated with headaches, Jennifer Wider, MD, a women’s health expert, tells SELF. Alcohol is also a diuretic (meaning, it causes you to pee), and many people wake up dehydrated after drinking, which can exacerbate a hangover headache or cause one to form, she says.


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