Waking up with a headache: 5 causes and what to do

There are several causes that may be at the origin of the headache upon waking up and, although in most cases it is not a cause for concern, there are situations in which the doctor’s evaluation is necessary.

Some causes that may be the source of the headache upon waking are insomnia, sleep apnea, bruxism, using an inappropriate pillow or sleeping in an incorrect position, for example.

Here are some of the most common causes and what to do in each of these situations:

Table of Contents

1. Insomnia

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and one of the most common symptoms is headache the next day. This situation is more common in periods of stress, and may also be associated with diseases, such as depression, or be associated with pregnancy or menopause, for example, which are situations that cause changes in the body’s physiology. See other causes that may be the cause of insomnia .

What to do: insomnia can be treated in several ways, which will depend on the intensity and duration of the insomnia and the cause of its origin. Treatment can be carried out with natural remedies, such as passion fruit tea, St. John’s wort, linden or chamomile, for example, and with the adoption of habits that facilitate sleep induction.

In addition, in some cases, it may be necessary to resort to psychotherapy and pharmacological treatment with anxiolytic and sleep-inducing medications.

2. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is characterized by a momentary pause in breathing or very shallow breathing during sleep, which can cause snoring and impair sleep, which ends up not being as relaxing as it should, causing the person to wake up in pain many times headache and tiredness. Know the characteristic symptoms of sleep apnea .

What to do:  treatment can be carried out by correcting lifestyle habits, such as smoking or being overweight, in addition to controlling diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure, and the use of a device that facilitates breathing and, in some cases, it may be necessary to resort to surgery.

3. Bruxism

Bruxism is characterized by the unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth, which can occur during the day or during the night. Bruxism can be associated with neurological or respiratory problems and causes symptoms such as wear on the surface of the teeth and pain in the joints and head when waking up, due to the tension that is exerted during the night.

What to do:  bruxism has no cure and its treatment aims to relieve pain and prevent tooth problems, which can be achieved with a dental protection plate during the night, to avoid friction between the teeth. In some cases, the doctor may recommend administering medications. Learn more about treatment .

4. Using the wrong pillow

The headache can also result from using the pillow incorrectly, from an inappropriate pillow, or from sleeping in the wrong position, which can cause muscle tension in the neck and head. 

What to do:  To avoid headaches that result from the incorrect use of the pillow, one should choose one that keeps the head and neck in a balanced position.

5. Alcohol and medicines

The headache on waking can result from excessive use of alcohol the day before, which is one of the symptoms of a hangover. In addition, the use of some medications can have a side effect of headaches in the morning, especially if taken at night.

What to do:  if the headache results from excessive alcohol consumption, the person should drink plenty of water or juices and take pain medication, such as Paracetamol, for example. If the headache results from a side effect of a medication, the person should identify what the medication is and talk to the doctor.

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