I keep waking up with a headache! What gives?
A few things could be going on here. For starters, poor sleep quality can lead to a headache the next day. So the first thing to do is investigate what, if anything, is interfering with your slumber.
It’s logical that sleep and headaches go hand in hand since the same regions of the brain control both. Headaches are two to eight times more common among people with sleep disorders or people with bad sleep routines . But there is hope: these are some of the most common nocturnal woes that tend to be associated with headaches and migraines.
Sleeping too little can be a trigger for headaches. As if tossing and turning at bedtime and waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning isn’t painful enough on its own, insomnia is the chief sleep complaint of headache sufferers. Lying awake often leads to anxiety and depression—and not getting enough slumber. But treatment, which may involve specialized therapy or medication, can help with getting more rest and reducing headaches. Just don’t go overboard as sleeping too much can also be a factor for headaches.
If your partner complains about your midnight music playing sessions, and you complain about waking up with headaches, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Snoring is a risk factor for chronic headaches, and it can also be a symptom of sleep apnea, a dangerous condition in which you briefly stop breathing during the night.
Also known as bruxism, clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth during the night can lead to waking up with an aching head. Along with finding healthy ways to manage stress, like exercise and meditation, improving your sleep hygiene habits may help to prevent nocturnal grinding—and the headaches that can come as a result.
Using the Wrong Pillow
Yes, it can actually be that simple. Tension headaches happen when your neck and scalp muscles are strained, especially if they’re held in the same position for a long time (as in, overnight!). Choose a pillow that keeps your head and neck in a neutral position, as if you were standing. And avoid sleeping in too cold of a room, which can also cause head and neck tension, triggering a headache.
Try the following quick fixes and you should get some relief this morning:
- Drink water
- Eat – Probably a quick bowl of cereal
- Take a cold shower
- Do some body stretch or exercise
When to See a Doctor?
The good news is that few diseases are capable of causing even severe headaches. The bad news is that they can sometimes be the result of serious underlying conditions like a tumor, a ruptured vessel, or trauma. Seek medical care as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:
- The headache is abrupt and intense, like a thunderclap
- The headache begins to get progressively worse or changes its pattern
- You have recently experienced a head injury, no matter how minor
- You experience numbness, mental confusion, fever, nausea or vomiting, or difficulty speaking
- You experience a sudden, severe headache out of proportion to others you have felt