There’s nothing like waking up with a headache so powerful you’d swear a tiny man with a jackhammer had taken up residence in your frontal lobe. Nothing so terrible, that is. If you’re waking up with a headache on a regular basis, it’s time to send that pocket-sized construction worker away so you can wake refreshed and pain-free.
Everything from environmental factors to bad bedtime habits can lead to a headache after waking up. But no matter the cause, we don’t have to tell you that starting your day with head and neck pain isn’t exactly the most enjoyable. You’ll be more productive if you can identify your headache triggers (a bad pillow or inconsistent sleep schedule could be the culprit) and address them (maybe an adjustable base bed will help).
Here are seven of the most common reasons for morning headaches, and some remedies that could usher in relief.
Reason #1: Lack of Sleep
Failing to get enough sleep is one of the most likely reasons you’re waking up with a headache. When you suffer from sleep deprivation, your brain can’t maintain the necessary pathways for healthy thinking. The absence of properly firing neurotransmitters could also induce head pain.
As WebMD explains, your brain specifically needs deep levels of sleep to produce adequate dopamine and serotonin – your brain’s natural painkillers and “happy chemicals.” Bottom line: If your neurons don’t get enough recovery time or spend too much time in lighter sleep, it can cause morning headaches.
The Fix: Establish a regular bedtime routine that includes soothing activities. A warm bath in Epsom salt, a meditation app, and turning down electronics 90 minutes before you retire for the day could all help you get a restful sleep. Try avoiding alcohol as a nighttime depressant. While it might help you fall asleep – it also makes restorative sleep less likely.
Reason #2: Teeth Grinding
Do you wake up with a stiff jaw? Many people clench their jaw or grind their teeth while they sleep without even realizing it. Regularly waking up with tension headaches is one sign you’re grinding your teeth, and so is jaw pain and aching temples. Stress is one common reason for teeth grinding so make sure you’re giving yourself adequate time to wind down at night.
The Fix: Consulting with a dentist is a good way to confirm whether or not you are grinding your teeth – the practice can cause noticeable damage to the surface of your teeth. If it’s confirmed, your dentist may recommend a nightguard or other measures that prevent you from grinding, saving you headaches and your pearly whites.
Reason #3: The Wrong Pillow
Wait, can pillows cause headaches? They sure can. An awkward neck position throughout the night will strain neck muscles, which in turn creates tension at the base of your head. If you sleep on your stomach with your neck turned to the side all night or lay on your back with your chin pointed downward – this habit is likely contributing to why you feel head pain in the morning.
The Fix: You don’t want a pillow that is too thin or too thick. Like Goldilocks, you need a pillow that’s “just right” to eliminate getting a headache from pillow pressure and a stiff neck. Get a pillow that keeps your neck aligned with the rest of your spine. You may also benefit from training yourself to sleep on your side which allows for an ideal neck alignment.
Reason #4: Dehydration
Waking up with a headache could also mean you’re not hydrated. Dehydration headaches can occur in the front, back, or side of your head. These headaches may or may not be alcohol-related. In other words, it’s not just a hangover that can lead to a dehydration-related headache.
If you sweat a lot during your sleep or don’t drink a lot of water during the day, you’ll feel it the next day. Believe it or not, you lose some hydration at night just by breathing!
The Fix: Most people need about four to six cups of water per day to maintain adequate hydration levels. While you don’t want to chug a huge canister of water right before bed (unless midnight trips to the bathroom are your idea of a party), drinking a glass a few hours before bed is a good idea.
Reason #5: Caffeine Withdrawal
The National Headache Foundation says that caffeine withdrawal is another reason for waking up with a headache. In this case, you’re experiencing a secondary headache. That is to say, the headache is indicative of an underlying problem – your body is detoxing from caffeine.
The Fix: While you may not want or need to eliminate caffeine entirely from your life, maintaining consistent levels can be the key to getting rid of painful morning headaches. If you go cold turkey from your usual six cups a day, you may trigger several painful headaches. Incorporating an over the counter medication with caffeine as an ingredient (such as Excedrin) may help you detox if you decide to cut back.
Reason #6: Allergens
Right this moment, there are probably millions of dust mites living on your sheets. Yes, it’s gross, but someone had to tell you. While regularly laundering your bedding can go a long way, these little guys feast on dead skin cells and they’re hard to eliminate altogether. If you’re allergic to dust mites, they can inflame your nasal passages and cause major sinus issues. This often causes people to wake up with a sinus headache.
The Fix: Just because you can’t get rid of all dust mites doesn’t mean you can’t mitigate their hold on your bedroom. Buying breathable sheets and washing them once a week in hot water will keep some of the mites at bay. You should also keep your bedroom’s humidity at about 50% and trade your carpet in for hardwood floors if possible.
Reason #7: Medication Overuse
The Mayo Clinic advises that overusing certain medications can cause rebound headaches in the morning. This is particularly true of people who are on pain medications for migraines, cluster headaches, or other chronic headache issues. While the medication keeps the original headache at bay, the symptoms can come back later with a vengeance. According to the Clinic, waking up with a headache is specifically tied to headache-related pain killers.
The Fix: If you’re currently on regular pain medication, especially a prescription that is related to migraines, talk to your doctor about your morning headaches. They may be able to change your medication dosage or advise on some other over the counter options.
Whatever your headache triggers, making your bed as comfortable as possible can only help. When your neck and shoulders are supported, your body benefits. Have you thought about trying a copper-infused pillow? The Layla Pillow can be adjusted for height based on your needs and is engineered to keep you cooler while you sleep.
A weighted blanket can also reduce stress and tension and help quiet even the most aggressive insomnia. Finally, an adjustable base bed helps you find the best position for your comfort and keep sleep deprivation away! What are you waiting for? A pain-free morning awaits with a new Layla Sleep bed set.