Dragging yourself out of your bed with a pounding headache is definitely a way to guarantee a crappy start of your day.
Morning headaches can usually be painful and annoying, as well as kind of confusing. You have just woken up, so what can possibly be the reason for this kind of discomfort. There are a lot of things which could be triggering it. And while some of them can be controlled, there are some which cannot.
In this article, we are going to present you 8 causes of morning headaches and what you should do in order to keep them away.
1. You didn’t get enough sleep
In order to function properly, our body needs seven to eight hours. So, when we get less, our body assumes that something must be wrong and starts to go into a panic mode.
Salvatore Napoli, MD, of the New England Center of Neurology, says that our fight – or flight hormones start kicking in, resulting in increasing heart rate, higher blood pressure and stress. All of these things can be the contributor of headache.
An over – the counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or naproxen can only help us get it through the morning. They will only ease the pain by reducing inflammation.
And, if we still feel zonked and crappy, we should take 20 to 30 minute nap. It will give our body more of the rest which it needs in order to function properly and normally. Some longer naps will probably leave us groggy, making the headache even worse. Also, we should get back to normal sleep cycle, so we won’t wake up in pain again tomorrow.
2. You got too much sleep
When not enough sleep can trigger a morning headache, spending a whole lot of time under the covers will help it, right?
Well, not so fast: Napoli explains that sleeping for more than nine hours at night is also associated with a decrease in the brain’s level of hormone serotonin. Low serotonin levels can reduce the blood flow to the brain and also trigger a headache.
These types of headaches often happen on the weekends, when we are more likely to sleep in. That is just one of the reasons why we feel lousy when we sleep more than usual. Napoli says that some medicines like ibuprofen or naproxen can ease the discomfort, but the best way to keep them from coming back by getting up after seven or eight hours of snooze time. What can also be helpful is setting an alarm on the weekends.
3. Your endorphins are out of whack
Early in the morning, the body’s production of feel – good endorphin hormones is at its lowest. For that people, this can trigger a migraine.
Mark Khorsandi, DO, of the Migraine Relief Center in Dallas and Fort Worth explains that when the levels of the endorphins are low, they can affect levels of other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which will cause the blood vessels in the brain to narrow. That narrowing can reduce the blood flow to the brain and that can cause a headache.
The bad news is that experts do not know the reason why this causes headaches in some people, and not in others. Khorsandi says that working out first thing in the morning could be one of the ways to stop the pain, because exercise triggers the release of endorphins.
4. You drank last night
Drinking plenty of alcohol can lead to a significant headache the next morning when you wake up. But, you do not need to get wrecked to feel booze’s head-pounding effects.
Even just a few drinks can make you dehydrated, which reduces the volume of blood flowing to the brain. Khorsandi says that can also make your head hurt. Alcohol can make it harder to get a good sleep at night, which is another common headache trigger.
Khorsandi says that the best way in which you can feel better is to rehydrate. Water, or even electrolyte drinks can work both.
What can also help your liver to process the alcohol more efficiently are vitamin C tablets or powder stirred into the water. It will get it out of your system much faster.
5. You snore
One sign of sleep apnea can be snoring like a chainsaw. Sleep apnea is a condition which can cause you to choke, gasp for air and even temporarily stop breathing throughout the night while you sleep. The episodes of choking only last for few seconds, but they can result in less oxygen getting to the brain.
Some experts are still not sure why this can lead to a headache. But, some of them theorize that less oxygen could cause blood vessels in the brain to expand, increasing the blood flow and the pressure in your head which can cause pain.
You can even have sleep apnea without realizing it, especially if you do not sleep with a partner, who may also complain about your snoring. So, you will need to talk to your doctor, who will recommend you further testing if he suspects that you have sleep apnea. If you are diagnosed with this condition, a breathing machine which is worn while sleeping, called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, can manage the condition and even get rid of the related headaches.
6. You are late with your coffee
Caffeine is a mind drug which helps in stimulating the nervous system. So if you drink coffee on regular basis and you don’t get your fix at the usual time, you can feel the head-pounding effects after you wake up.
Napoli says that caffeine withdrawal can abruptly lead to expansion of the blood vessels in the brain. As a result of this, more blood flows into the brain and exerts more pressure, which will cause headache.
Also, you are more likely to get caffeine headache if you are heavy coffee drinker, or if you drink your coffee at the exact same time in the morning. If that is the case, the best way to feel better is downing a cup. Also, if you try to kick your caffeine habit altogether, cut back slowly instead of going cold turkey, over the course of a week or two.
7. You are depressed
Headaches related to depression can happen at any time of the day. The reason for this is because depression is related with lower levels of the hormone serotonin.
But, they could be particularly likely to strike during the morning. Depression can also mess with your usual sleep schedule and snoozing too much or too late can trigger headaches both. This pain can also have impact on the mood, creating a vicious cycle.
OTC pain medicines can be helpful but just for short time. Finding the root cause of the problem can be the best way for dealing with this. If you think that you are depressed, you should talk with your doctor. What can help you to get back to normal, as well as solve the problems which are leading to headaches are antidepressants or therapy.
8. You have high blood pressure
Khorsandi says that when your blood pressure is high, defined like 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or above, it is actually exerting more pressure on your head. Usually, that extra pressure is the cause of headaches.
There are a lot of people who have high blood pressure and do not know that, as the condition do not has a lot of outward symptoms (except from headaches, which you can connect with something else).
So, if you have frequent and unexplainable headaches, you should visit your doctor. If you have too high blood pressure, your doctor will recommend you lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, or prescribe you some medications for blood pressure.
Bottom line on morning headaches
Usually, morning headaches are very easy to fix. But, in rare instances, they may indicate some serious underlying problem, such as brain tumor or an aneurysm. So, if you’re plagued by headaches frequently, you should talk with your doctor immediately, no matter if they happen in the morning or at some other time in the day, more than twice a week for three to six months.
If your headaches are debilitating and are affecting your life or work, you should also visit your doctor. The doctor may perform an MRI or EEG, which is a test that looks at electrical activity in your brain, in order to learn more about what is going on in your brain, or prescribe an eye exam, as the headaches can also be caused by strained vision.