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Waking up with a headache: 8 causes and what to do


Headache pain when waking up can occur due to insomnia, using an inappropriate pillow or sleeping in an incorrect position, for example, and can be alleviated with simple measures such as practicing sleep hygiene, stipulating a fixed time to go to bed and wake up, or using a suitable pillow.

Depending on its cause, a headache upon waking up, also called morning headache, may be accompanied by other symptoms such as tiredness, drowsiness during the day, mood changes or decreased vitality, for example, which may indicate conditions health problems, such as sleep apnea, stress or anxiety.

Although in most cases it is not a cause for concern, there are situations in which a general practitioner's evaluation is necessary, so that the cause of the pain can be identified, and thus the most appropriate treatment can be indicated.

Main causes

The main causes of waking up with a headache are:

1. Insomnia

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and one of the most common symptoms is a headache the next day. This situation is more common in periods of stress, and may also be associated with illnesses, 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 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 behind it. 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, such as sleep hygiene.

Furthermore, 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 stoppage of breathing or very shallow breathing during sleep, which can cause snoring and impair sleep, which ends up not being as relaxing as it should be, causing the person to often wake up in pain. headache and tiredness. Find out 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, such as CPAP, and in some cases it may be necessary to resort to surgery.

Don't ignore your symptoms!

3. Bruxism

Bruxism is characterized by the unconscious act of grinding or clenching teeth, which can occur during the day or 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 headache when waking up, due to the tension exerted during the night.

What to do: bruxism has no cure and its treatment aims to alleviate pain and prevent tooth problems, which can be achieved with a dental protection plate at night, to prevent friction between the teeth. In some cases, your doctor may recommend taking medication. Find out more about bruxism treatment.

4. Using the wrong pillow

Headaches can also result from incorrect pillow use, an unsuitable pillow or sleeping in the wrong position, which can cause muscle tension in the neck and head.

What to do: To avoid headaches that result from using the pillow incorrectly, you should choose one that keeps your head and neck in a balanced position.

5. Alcohol and medications

A headache upon waking up may result from excessive alcohol use the day before, which is one of the symptoms of a hangover. Furthermore, the use of some medications can have the side effect of headache 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 which medication it is and speak with their doctor.

6. Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when the water available in the body is insufficient for its proper functioning, generating symptoms such as excessive thirst, dry mouth, intense headache and tiredness.

A headache upon waking up due to dehydration is usually associated with low water intake the day before, or excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.

What to do:pTo avoid dehydration, you should drink around 2L of fluids per day, which can be done by drinking water, teas, juices, milk and soup, for example. Furthermore, consuming fruits and vegetables rich in water also contributes to hydrating the body. Check out the complete list of foods rich in water.

7. Dysregulation of the circadian cycle

The circadian cycle is the body's own natural rhythm, which lasts 24 hours a day and which regulates the main activities and biological processes, from metabolism to periods of sleep and wakefulness. Understand better what the circadian cycle is.

When dysregulation of the circadian cycle occurs, it can cause a headache upon waking up, and is generally related to night work, which results in poor sleep quality, and may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as drowsiness during the day, decreased vitality and performance. , mood changes or continuous tiredness.

What to do: The treatment of this problem has limitations, because the worker's schedule is very unstable. However, if symptoms cause a lot of discomfort, your doctor may recommend using stimulant or sedative/hypnotic medications and isolating your sleep environment during the day.

8. Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can lead to excess tension, difficulty sleeping and poor sleep quality, which can cause the muscles in the head, neck or shoulders to become more tense and result in a painful headache upon waking, or even pain all over the body at the end of the day.

What to do: It is important to adopt strategies that help you relax throughout the day, preventing tension, headaches and body aches. Therefore, it is recommended to rest and practice relaxing activities or activities that promote a feeling of well-being, such as meditation, yoga, walking or dancing, for example. Check out some ways to relieve stress and anxiety.

9. Sinusitis

Sinusitis can cause a headache when you wake up and improve throughout the day. This headache occurs due to inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, which causes accumulation of fluid in the area, nasal secretion and a feeling of heaviness in the face, especially in the front and cheeks, which is where these cavities are located.

What to do: The treatment of sinusitis depends on the cause, and the use of antibiotics may be indicated, in the case of bacterial sinusitis, antiallergics, nasal decongestants and flu medications, for example. See more details on the treatment for sinusitis.