A good night’s sleep is critical to your overall health. It is, in fact, just as vital as eating well and exercising regularly. We feel revitalized after a good night’s sleep. However, this is not always the case. Since when was the recent experience you awaken from your sleep with a headache?
You are not alone if you frequently wake up with headaches in the morning. Morning headaches affect approximately 1 in every 13 people. These headaches typically affect women more than men and are most common in people aged 45 to 64.
Before you can learn how to avoid waking up with a headache, you must first understand some of the most common causes of early morning headaches. A variety of sleep or health problems, as well as personal habits, can cause a headache when you wake up. Common causes include sleep apnea, migraines, and a lack of sleep. Teeth grinding, alcohol use, and certain medications, on the other hand, can cause you to wake up with a headache.
What Causes Morning Headaches?
Headaches and sleep problems are partners in crime. “If you’re dealing with chronic headaches, or headaches that seem to appear as soon as you wake up, it could be a sleep disorder,” says Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, sleep medicine physician and Director of the Sleep Disorders Center.
People who have sleep apnea repeatedly stop breathing for short periods during the night. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and feel tired even after a whole night’s sleep, according to Dr Foldvary-Schaefer.
“We believe that more than half of people with sleep apnea suffer from headaches,” she says. “The typical scenario is that a person wakes up with a headache that goes away within four hours.”
Apnea-related headaches are typically described as pressing pain on both sides of the head. They are not the same as migraines, which frequently cause pulsing pain on one side and are often accompanied by nausea or other symptoms.
Sleep apnea can be addressed with appropriate treatment, so seek medical help if you think you have it. Keep a record of your sleep habits and symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. Your doctor may recommend losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding consuming alcohol, and using a breathing device, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Sleep-related teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause morning headaches. This overactivity of the jaw muscles while sleeping can cause morning headaches. Bruxism can easily be recognized by tooth-grinding sounds, jaw muscle pain, and abnormal tooth wear. Teeth grinding can be triggered by stress, misaligned teeth, and disrupted sleep.
If you believe you have a problem with teeth grinding, see your dentist. Often, treatment involves wearing a mouthguard at night. Your dentist may also prescribe pain relievers and recommend cognitive behavioural therapy to help you deal with stress and anxiety.
Everyone has a favourite sleeping position. But if you’re sleeping on your stomach, your neck may be twisted to one side for several hours at a time. Doing so strains your neck muscles which can cause tension-type headaches. Sleeping with the wrong pillow can worsen the issue.
How to Help a Morning Headache
If you have chronic morning headaches and are unsure why consult your doctor. Understanding the root cause of your morning headaches is the first step to successfully treating the problem.
Your healthcare practitioner can collaborate with you to create a plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Morning headaches can have various causes, some of which can be avoided, while others must be addressed when they arise.
Here are some general recommendations for dealing with a morning headache:
- Get enough sleep and schedule a consistent bedtime: Aim for seven or eight hours of sleep, even on the weekends. Strive to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Sleep in an environment conducive to sleep: Cool, quiet, dark bedrooms are considered best for sleeping.
- Reduce screen time right before bed: Avoid watching television and using electronic devices in bed.
- Refrain from napping too long during the day: Frequent daytime naps can lead to interrupted sleep at night.
- Limit stress: Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, listening to soothing music, and prayer.
- Exercise regularly: Adults should get about 30 minutes of vigorous activity each day, at least five to six hours before bedtime.
- Track symptoms in a journal: Write down the days and times you experience symptoms to help identify headache triggers.
- Eat a balanced diet: Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins high in B vitamins, such as fish, poultry, and eggs.
- Avoid excessive caffeine intake: Try to consume no more than three 8-ounce cups of coffee each day and be mindful of the amount of caffeine in other beverages you drink, such as tea and soda.