Do you know the feeling: waking up with a headache? It's a bad experience and can make the start of your day a lot more uncomfortable. Yet it happens to most people at least a few times in their lives. But how does this headache arise and what can you do about it?
In this article, we will look at the causes of waking up with a headache, how to deal with it when you suffer from it and what you can do about it.
The causes of waking up with a headache and neck pain
Some causes have a simple explanation, while others are more complicated.
Read below to find out what causes waking up with a headache.
Insomnia causes headaches
If you suffer from insomnia, you may wake up often during the night or turn a lot in your sleep. This can prevent your body and brain from getting enough rest, causing your head to be already overloaded when you wake up. This then causes a headache. In severe cases, insomnia can even lead to migraines.
Depression and Anxiety Disorders
While depression and anxiety themselves don't necessarily cause headaches to wake up to, the effects of these disorders can. For example, people with depression often suffer from insomnia, which means that they are less able to get a good night's sleep.
It can also increase your cortisol level (a stress hormone), making you more likely to grind your teeth or tense your muscles while you sleep.
Headache due to snoring
Although a partner can be bothered by your snoring, you can also suffer from excessive snoring; even when you don't realize this. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. This is a condition where you temporarily stop breathing during your sleep.
As a result, your brain doesn't get enough oxygen, which can lead to headaches. Usually, however, this headache is short-lived.
Grinding your teeth can cause headaches
Teeth grinding is also known as “bruxism”. This is when, during your sleep, you rub your jaws together hard or clamp them tightly. Since this creates a lot of tension, you can wake up with a headache and a dry mouth. In most cases, this headache is around the temples of your head and feels very dull.
Waking up with a headache has even more causes
In addition to the causes of waking up with a headache described above, other causes can be linked to waking up with a pain in your head. It is therefore good to also take the following causes into account.
That way you can find out if one or more of the things below result in waking up with a headache.
Tired and cramped muscles
Sleeping in a bad position can cause muscle cramps. It is therefore important to have a good quality mattress and pillow. After all, if you sleep in the wrong position, this can lead to cramps in your neck muscles. This can result in a headache.
Waking up with a headache because of medication
Some medicines have the side effect of giving you a headache. In addition, certain medications can cause your sleeping pattern to change, so that your body has to get used to a new rhythm. When you just start with a new medication, you can wake up with a headache.
Use of alcohol and drugs
Alcohol and drug use affect sleep. That is why it is wise not to consume too much alcohol before going to bed. If you do this anyway, your sleep rhythm suffers, as a result of which your body does not get enough rest. This creates a headache.
You can also get a hangover from alcohol and drugs; especially after a hard night. A hangover is often characterized by a headache, a dry throat and mouth, and sometimes nausea.
Other causes of waking up with a headache
You may also wake up with a headache from other causes, such as underlying conditions. Think of hypertension or musculoskeletal disorders.
If you suffer from persistent headaches, it is wise to contact a doctor so that they can look at the possible cause.
Tips against waking up with a headache
Drink an herbal tea.
This can help your body in two ways. First of all, moisture helps to relieve headaches when this is a result of dehydration. Second, several herbs can relieve your headaches thanks to their medicinal properties. Ginger, peppermint, and lavender are good examples of this. Rosemary tea can also help with headaches. In addition, chamomile tea can lower cortisol in your body.
Take some magnesium
Research has shown that magnesium may help reduce migraines and ordinary headaches. Keep in mind that too much of these supplements can lead to intestinal problems, so start with a small dose.
Use a cooling pad
A cold compress or cooling pad can help relieve headaches when placed on the affected area. Wrap a tea towel around an ice pack and place it where you feel the most pain. You will immediately notice a difference.
Do relaxation exercises
Yoga and other relaxation exercises can reduce the pressure on your muscles so that you have fewer headaches. Yoga also helps to relieve other pain points.
Tips against waking up with a headache
Depending on the cause of the headache, these can have a greater or lesser effect.
If you continue to suffer from chronic headaches, it is wise to contact your doctor to determine the cause.
1. Create a routine
Although you might not expect it, humans are creatures of habit. We like routine and routine keeps us functioning well. It is, therefore, crucial to follow a clear routine so that your body gets enough rest at night.
When you go to bed and wake up at different times, your brain can't make enough melatonin for a good night's sleep. However, going to bed and getting up at regular times makes it much easier for your brain to make and release enough melatonin.
You will sleep better and longer so that you will suffer less from headaches.
2. Do relaxation exercises
Relaxation exercises help reduce headaches as well as prevent headaches. By practicing relaxation exercises, your body will relax, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
In addition, you get more rest, so that you wake up less often during the night.
3. Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake
Alcohol and caffeine have a major influence on your sleep rhythm. Although you can easily fall asleep due to alcohol, your body is less able to rest. Caffeine ensures that the substance adenosine is blocked.
Adenosine usually makes you feel sleepy, but if you don't get enough adenosine at bedtime, you sleep less well. As a result, waking up with a headache is an obvious consequence.
4. Use a mouth guard against teeth grinding
If you know that you grind a lot of teeth, it is wise to have a mouthguard made by a dentist. These bits have been specially developed to weaken the impact of your jaws so that you are less likely to suffer from headaches.
Since the bits are custom-made, they fit exactly on your teeth and you can wear them without any problems. It may take some getting used to in the beginning.
5. Buy a firm pillow
When waking up with a headache and neck pain caused by poor posture while sleeping, a firm pillow can help.
Find a pillow that suits your sleeping style and give it a try. You will soon notice that the tension in your neck muscles is a lot less.
6. Supplements for waking up with a headache
Just as magnesium supplements help reduce pain, other supplements can also help prevent headaches.
For example, valerian and melatonin supplements ensure that you sleep deeper and better, so that you may not get a headache as a result of a bad night's sleep.
Lavender can help reduce stress so you sleep better and “Coenzyme Q10” can help reduce pain throughout the body.
7. Preventing a headache with enough sleep
Besides the fact that a regular sleep rhythm is important for a good night's sleep, it is also important that you get enough sleep. An adult person needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you don't comply with this, your body gets too little rest, with the result that you run a greater risk of headaches.
8. Treat the underlying complaints/conditions
If waking up with a headache is the result of a condition or illness, it's most effective when you treat the condition first.
For example, if you suffer from depression, it can help to talk to a psychologist. That way you can lower your stress level, which has a positive impact on your sleep.
If you are not able to sleep well because of medication, so that you have a headache when you wake up, it helps to talk to your doctor. That person can then consult with you to see if another medication is available.
Preventing headaches when waking up summarized
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to relieve the pain when you wake up with a headache. For example, it helps to follow relaxation exercises, but also to drink herbal tea.
Of course, it is nicer to prevent headaches, so we have written 8 handy tips for that. For example, it can help you to have a mouthguard made against teeth grinding, but you also have a clear sleep routine, so that your body can get enough rest.
Do you continue to suffer from headaches when you wake up? Then it is advisable to contact a medical specialist. He or she can investigate the real cause of your headache.