Waking up every day with a headache is not pleasant at all and it can affect a person’s quality of life. Recent studies have shown that there is a clear link between waking up with headaches and sleep disorders. As a matter of fact, people who suffer from sleep disorders present a risk of waking up with a headache that is between two and eight times greater than those who do not have such problems. The awakening headache, as it is also known, can present itself under various forms but, often times, it appears as a tension migraine.
Scientists believe today that bad sleep is often the trigger for waking up with headaches. They recommend people to pay more attention to their sleeping habits and search for ways to improve them. As for migraines, the basic mechanism is that the nerve cells are over stimulated, sending impulses to blood vessels. These will constrict and expand, the painful process being accompanied by a release of brain chemicals. These can cause both pain and inflammation, two of the most encountered symptoms of migraines.
In a study made to identify the reasons why women wake up with headaches, 80% of the participants declared that they woke up feeling tired and not at all refreshed. This has led scientists to believe that there is a very important connection between sleep and awakening headaches. The participants of the study were afterward instructed on good sleeping habits and, upon the repeating of the study, the intensity of awakening headaches had decreased and the patients declared they woke up rested and feeling refreshed.
Causes of Waking up with Headaches
These are the most common causes that can make you wake up with a headache in the morning:
- Not sleeping enough or, on the contrary, sleeping too much are thought to rather be triggers than causes.
- Night snoring
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Restless legs syndrome
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Abnormal behaviors during sleeping (clenching the jaw, grinding the teeth)
- Disorders of the circadian rhythm
- Infection of the sinuses
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Depression and mood swings
- Drug addiction.
Treatment for Waking up with Headaches
These are the most common courses of treatment for people who wake up with headaches in the morning:
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Anti-depressant drugs, such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors
- Behavioral sleep therapy, recommended for sleep behavior modification
- Relaxation training
- Anti-inflammatory medication for painful migraines
- Antibiotics are recommended for the infection of the sinuses. Also, inhaling steam might help with the drainage of the pus and it will promote faster healing
- Specific medication for diabetes and a special diet, avoiding foods that are rich in sugar at all costs
- Specific medication to lower the high blood pressure and diet to reduce the bad cholesterol levels
- Diet and physical exercise in order to lose weight
- Heart medication for different types of heart disease
- Specialized therapy to solve the drug addiction problem
Making a few changes in your life, including when it comes to sleeping habits, can help just as much as the treatment presented above. These are the most common measures you can take and they can be pretty effective:
- Sleep at least seven or eight hours each and every night. It is a well known fact that regular and adequate sleep contributes to fewer headaches, lowering their intensity as well.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can both create an excitation of the nerve cells, leading to migraines and other types of headaches.
- Avoid nicotine for the same reason as above
- When you go to bed, try some activities to calm your mind or choose a happy place to picture yourself into. However, you should not watch TV, read or browse the Internet, as these are all activities that will keep the brain alert, preventing you from properly sleeping and getting the rest you need.
- Change your diet, including more healthy carbohydrates in the last meal that you take before going to bed. It is a well known fact that carbohydrates can boost the serotonin levels in the brain, allowing you to sleep and rest comfortably throughout the entire night.
- Drink plenty of water, as dehydration can prevent you from properly sleeping.
- Try to establish a clear waking pattern every day. If you do not have a regular pattern, then you stand a higher chance of waking with a headache every day.
- Go to bed when you are sleepy. When you wake up, don’t lie in bed but rather get up and start your today. These are good habits that will prevent nasty headaches from appearing.