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Morning Headaches: Causes and Cures

Many people wake up with a headache. The pain may be so severe that it interrupts your sleep, or you may be waking up at your normal time and find that you have a headache. There are many reasons why people develop these morning headaches.

Morning Withdrawal

dreamstime_s_29309266_cropOne potential cause of morning headaches is that you are experiencing withdrawal from medications, including prescription medicines you may take to prevent your headaches or nonprescription chemicals like caffeine. Most of these have a 6-8 hour effectiveness period, so when you’ve been asleep all night, you are either at the tail end of their effect or it’s expired.

Cure: Time your medications as close to bedtime as possible. Also try to reduce your dependence on caffeine.

Dehydration and Hangovers

It’s possible that your morning headaches are related to dehydration. Although your body’s processing of liquid slows at night, you have still gone six or eight hours without consuming any water. As a result, your body may be dehydrated when you wake up in the morning.

You may also have a hangover. You may not think that you consumed excessively the night before, but you may have accidentally consumed more alcohol than you thought (it’s easy to lose track when you drink, and if you’ve switched from your normal beer to a microbrew you might not realize how high the alcohol content is).

Cure: Drink water before bedtime and whenever you wake up at night. (Many people are reluctant to drink more water before bedtime because they don’t want to have to get up to go to the bathroom. Often midnight bathroom breaks are not related to the amount of water you drink, but may be due to sleep apnea or other causes.) Try to be aware of alcohol consumption.

Sleep Apnea Headaches

Sleep apnea headaches are another common type of morning headache. The periodic oxygen deprivations and the interruptions in your sleep cause pain. The classic sleep apnea headache is present when you wake up, usually resolves within a half hour of waking, happens most days, and is felt on both sides of the head.

Cure: Sleep apnea treatment resolves sleep apnea headaches. It may also help with migraines and tension headaches that incidentally occur during the day.

If you suffer from morning headaches and want to learn whether sleep apnea is to blame, please call 402-493-4175 for an appointment with Omaha sleep dentist Dr. Roger Roubal at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.