Why do I wake up with headaches in the morning?
December 19, 2011 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Why do I wake up with headaches in the morning?

From the time I was little, I've been getting headaches that are there upon waking and they progressively worsen if I don't take pills to treat them. It's very rare for me to get headaches in the middle of the day; 95% of the time they're there upon waking.

I've noticed that I tend to wake up with headaches after having long, vivid dreams. Could vivid dreams be the cause of these headaches (I know it sounds absurd, but you never know)? Also, my room gets quite stuffy at night. Could my room being stuffy be the cause of these headaches?

If I knew the cause of these headaches perhaps I could prevent myself from getting them as often as I do. Luckily, they're easy to get rid of -- two or three Tylenol usually do the trick -- but I wish I didn't get them as often as I do as I hate having to blow so much money on headache pills. I also don't like the negative effects long-term overuse of headache pills can have on a body.

Thanks. I await your responses.
posted by GlassHeart to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Possibly a dumb question: Are you hydrating properly?
posted by MangyCarface at 12:24 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Outside of the obvious IF YOU HAVEN'T, PLEASE SEE A DOCTOR ABOUT CONSTANT HEADACHES boilerplate, do you stay hydrated? Keep in mind that while you're asleep, that's eight (or however long you sleep) hours where you are not actively drinking water. Try drinking a big glass of water (not tea or soda, just water) before you go to bed and see how that affects things.
posted by griphus at 12:25 PM on December 19, 2011

(Also, try to alternate between Tylenol and Advil, if they both work for you.)
posted by griphus at 12:27 PM on December 19, 2011

A humidifier would help a lot if this is indeed dehydration.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:27 PM on December 19, 2011

You should be seen for sleep apnea, and sleep test in general. Weird, vivid dreams and headaches may indicate that your sleep rhythms are just off, and one of the main causes of bad sleep rhythms is apnea, which can cause all sorts of problems.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:32 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

It may have something to do with your pillow(s). I love high, fluffy pillows because they're the most comfortable as I'm falling asleep, but I wake up with a headache and neck pain from sleeping with my neck at an angle. I'm learning to sleep with one flat pillow, and that helps.
posted by runningwithscissors at 12:34 PM on December 19, 2011

So you take headache medicine every morning on waking? Because you're waking up with pain because of rebound headaches.

It could be all sorts of things so you should go get checked by your doctor. I'm becoming increasingly sure I have some sort of sleep disorder too and it does cause you to wake up with headaches because you just didn't rest properly no matter how long you were in bed.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:36 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also, your dentist can check for evidence that you are grinding your teeth at night, which can definitely cause headaches. WebMD has some suggestions.
posted by argonauta at 12:36 PM on December 19, 2011

My brother had something similar, turned out it was sleep apnea.
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:39 PM on December 19, 2011

This happened to me and was a symptom of high blood pressure.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 12:40 PM on December 19, 2011

I am gonna give you a laundry list of possibilities.

1. You have sleep apnea.
2. You have undiagnosed diabetes or a thyroid condition.
3. You grind your teeth.
4. You have an undiagnosed chronic sinus condition.
5. You have a brain abnormality.
6. You have a hormone imbalance (yes, even boys get these).
7. You are dehydrated.
8. Your bed is too hard/too soft/too pillowed.

To test for possibilities 1 through 7, you need to make seeing a doctor a priority. Chronic headaches are not okay.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:40 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh, yeah, I woke up with horrific headaches for over a year and I had bruxism (teeth grinding). I wear a mouth guard now which fixed the problem. If you have a partner, ask if they've ever noticed you grinding your teeth.

The pain I felt was mostly in one side of my neck and sometimes behind my eye. These headaches were daily and very consistent until I got the mouth guard. You can also get a muscle relaxant.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:41 PM on December 19, 2011

How are your sinuses? I've had bad headaches in the morning for a lot of my life, and hydration was never the problem. Or, rather I decided it couldn't be, because getting adequately hydrated again didn't make the headache go away. But I noticed this summer that my nose gets really stuffed up when I sleep and although I also had problems with that during the day, being upright seemed to keep the sinus pressure from building up. Not at night though. So while I was figuring out what the root cause of my messed up sinuses was, I started waking up (with the usual horrible headache) and using a neti pot before I'd even turned the tea kettle on. It was amazing. My headache would subside every time before my tea water was ready and it would stay gone.

It's gotten to the point where I actively like pouring water down my nasal passages because I can practically feel it working.
posted by colfax at 12:45 PM on December 19, 2011

To add to everyone's tooth-related suggestions, you might also have TMJ or a related disorder. I was not grinding my teeth (zero noise made, according to boyfriend), but rather statically clenching the muscles of my jaw due to stress, which triggered my TMJ, which gave me rip-roaring constant headaches. A mouth guard helps (takes some of the pressure off the jaw when you have something to bite) but stretching, muscle relaxants and decompressing from stress as much as possible helped more.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:56 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

For some people, vivid dreams are associated with migraines.
posted by jamjam at 1:14 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

When this happens to me, it's one of the four: too warm, lack of fresh air, dusty, or a bad pillow. Reinforced by
*when I have been playing Continuo in a 2-hour oratorio program after which I had to drive two more hours.
*when I have been carrying around heavy suitcases and things.
*not enough water, as others say.
posted by Namlit at 1:20 PM on December 19, 2011

This might sound weird, but if you have a caffeine habit and you aren't having any in the evening, you might be withdrawing by morning. I have coffee around 9 p.m. and have a headache by late morning if I don't tank up.
posted by Occula at 1:24 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm virtually certain it's the *heat* in your room - I have 1st hand experience.

Vivid (and disturbing) dreams & headaches are direct consequences of a sleeping environment that's too hot. Scientists don't know exactly why, but when I reduced the temp, the dreams and headaches both went away immediately.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:28 PM on December 19, 2011

Mouth breathing gives me strange dreams, and dehydration headaches.

Put your pillows through a dryer on hot for 15 minutes (kills dustmites, which cause the allergy-mouthbreating), take a one-a-day antihistamine before sleeping, drink a big glass of water before going to sleep, and leave the window open a crack.

See if that helps?
posted by Elysum at 1:32 PM on December 19, 2011

Check with your doctor (of course), but also your dentist. I get morning headaches due to grinding teeth. I don't know I'm doing it, and apparently whoever sleeps with me can't hear it either, as I clench more than actually grind. The dentist can sometimes tell by looking (if you're worried about expensive xrays).
posted by bluefly at 1:41 PM on December 19, 2011

I have definite migraines, and the time I usually get them is upon waking. I think it's a pretty common 'migraine style.' I get them even more when I fail to adhere to a sleep schedule (i.e. when I stay up too late and/or sleep late), and sticking to a schedule largely eliminates them. (I don't have the vivid dreams however...) I agree with everybody else that you should see a doctor, and test this out with all the other possibilities.

Happily, I am not prevented from Saturday morning sleepins -- I just need to get up at the usual time and have something to eat, and then I can get back to my nap. Just in case that turns out to be what you need to do.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:39 PM on December 19, 2011

Are you sleeping for over 8-9 hours each night? I have a history of migraines and will almost always wake up with one if I oversleep. It's also typical for me to have very vivid, almost lucid, dreams during those last hours of sleep if I'm sleeping in.
posted by jrichards at 6:33 AM on December 20, 2011

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