8 Most Common Causes of Morning Headaches

There are a lot of people worldwide fighting morning headaches on an everyday basis. It might be the type of migraine or could be also something else. It can occur for a variety of reasons. It might the case that you experience it once in a while after a poor sleep or during stress but you might also experience it regularly.

According to a recent study, one in thirteen people experiences early morning headaches. It might be the result of a change in the body physiology. Generally, your body’s level of internal pain reduction might be lowered in the early morning hours. Apart from that, your body might consume more adrenalin during this period, leading to migraine headaches. Primary care physicians state that people with sleep disorders are 2 to 8 times more prone to experiencing morning headaches than the ones that do not have this condition. The following section of the article focuses on depicting the most common causes of the early morning headaches and they as follows.


A number of studies show that adults who drink too much are running a high risk of waking up with an early morning headache as part of a hangover. After a long night, when your blood alcohol content drops back to normal or at least close to it, a person might start feeling the symptoms including headaches. This typically happens because the alcohol causes your body to produce more urine, which in turn leads to dehydration. In addition to that, alcohol causes the blood vessels to expand, which in turn results in headaches.


Studies show that 10 percent of people worldwide are affected by migraine headaches. Your headache might be a migraine if along with headache you experience:

  1. Sensitivity to smells, sounds, and light
  2. Feeling sick or nauseous
  3. Symptoms for 5-70 hours but do not have any between attacks
  4. Vision being affected

Primary care physicians say that migraine typically occurs early in the morning as the pain medication you took before going to sleep starts wearing off. However, it should be also said that migraines are quite complicated and different people experience it in different ways. Some people might experience lines, light flashes in their visions while others might experience visual disturbance before, during and after the headache.

It has been also determined that women are three times more prone to encountering migraines than men. Approximately 13 million women in the United States get exposed to migraines during the period of menstruating. Morning migraine pain can be also associated with depression.

Sleep apnea

This issue occurs when the throat muscles collapse during your sleep and interrupt your breathing. However, it is also possible to differentiate between other symptoms of this sleep disorder and they are listed below.

  1. Snoring
  2. Dry mouth
  3. Moodiness
  4. Waking up too often in order to pee
  5. Suddenly waking up at night

If you experience the aforementioned symptoms, your primary care physician might suggest taking a sleep test. One of the options to treat this sleep disorder is making use of a continuous positive airway pressure machine.

Other types of sleep disorders

A strong link between headaches and sleep has not been found. In some cases, headaches can be a result of poor sleep and sometimes headaches can cause poor sleep. Morning headache is sometimes linked to chronic headache. Apart from that, circadian rhythm disorders are able to cause morning headaches as well.


MOH, which stands for medication overuse headache can occur if you are already prone to headaches and take a lot of pain medicine. This condition normally hits when a person wakes up. For people with chronic headaches, making use of medication more than two or three days a week is considered a lot.


According to research, 5 out of 100,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year. It is believed that the chances are much greater that your headache is just a headache. For the purpose of diagnosing this condition, primary care physicians look for a number of telltale signs of a brain tumor, which include:

  1. Depression
  2. Nausea or vomiting
  3. Changes in personality
  4. Issues with language and speech
  5. Seizure
  6. Having difficulties with focusing
  7. Visions problems or swelling around eyes
  8. Weakness or paralysis


TMJ is a temporomandibular joint that connects the jaw to the skull. Pain in the joint and the surrounding muscles can bring a morning headache. A doctor can recommend making use of an oral device in order to keep a person from grinding the teeth at night.

Strained muscles

Strained muscles in your neck can lead to early morning headaches. It might be needed to evaluate the sleep position and the pillow that a person uses. Pillows are aimed to maintain a sleeping position by properly supporting a neck and spine. There is no rule of thumb for choosing the right pillow, it will rather take some trial and error. However, you need to make sure that a pillow is able to keep your neck and head in a position similar to when you are standing. Be aware that soft pillows cannot hold your spine and neck properly whereas hard pillows might create a significant angle for the body. You need to make sure to replace the pillow in order to maintain the correct sleeping position.

Early morning headaches should be treated just like any other health condition and according to its cause. It might be the case that you will be able to manage the headaches by yourself by changing the pillow or getting higher quality sleep. However, as was previously mentioned, everything depends on the cause of headaches. Most probably, you will need to have a thorough doctor consultation for the purpose of identifying the cause of this disorder. It is crucial to determine the cause of the problem as the headache will start getting better with appropriate treatment. Visiting a specialist could save you a lot of time and speed up the treatment process at the same time.

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