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Why Do I Wake Up With a Headache? Symptoms and causes

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Have you ever thought “the headache wakes me up” or did it hurt to wake up? Isn’t it the first time this has happened to you? In this case, do not underestimate this alarm sign that your body sends you because, in addition to making the mornings difficult, it indicates that something is not right in the body. Although this seems to be a common and easy-to-treat situation, for this to be effective, its main causes must be known, which revolve around bruxism, sleep apnea, poor night’s rest, dehydration and even vision problems.

If you want to know more about this topic, we invite you to continue reading this article by FastlyHealabout the headache when waking up and its causes .

Tension headache on waking from bruxism

Unconsciously grinding and clenching your teeth at night is medically known as bruxism and this is considered one of the main reasons you can get a headache when you wake up in the morning.

It consists of an involuntary movement but performed rhythmically and intensely with the teeth, an effect that is exerted through the chewing muscles. In adulthood it represents a sufficient reason for tension headache and other problems, for example in the mouth, depending on the intensity with which it is performed and the frequency. Normally, you are not aware of this condition until someone sleeping next to you notices the sound or until signs appear.

Symptoms of night bruxism

This problem occurs in the mandibular area, but it affects the muscles of the neck and head. The signs and symptoms that stand out are:

  • Severe headache upon waking.
  • Sleep disruption
  • Fracture of a tooth.
  • Loose, worn or even broken teeth.
  • Pain in the teeth.
  • Sensitivity in the teeth.
  • Tired jaw muscles.
  • Stiffness in the muscles of the jaw, even to the point that it makes it difficult to open or close it.
  • Inflammation in the jaw and neck region.
  • Pain that radiates to the ear.
  • Wounds on the inside of the cheek from a bite.

Causes associated with bruxism

Bruxism is usually related to stress, as one of the main factors. It is believed that the higher the stress level, the greater the intensity and frequency of this involuntary habit. In addition, it can be associated with other causes such as:

  • Alterations in the occlusion of the teeth: caused by a bad interlocking between them, the organism seeks that the teeth fit together and this occurs through the wear of the interferences through this involuntary movement.
  • Anxiety: as part of emotional and / or psychological disturbances.
  • Genetic history: it is normal for there to be people within the same family group with this disorder.

Risk factors for bruxism

Likewise, some risk factors for the appearance of nocturnal bruxism are related, such as:

  • Age of the person.
  • Female gender
  • Aggressive or hyperactive personality.
  • Consumption of some medications, especially antidepressants.

Treatment of bruxism

Treatment is basically aimed at mitigating the annoying symptoms caused and minimizing all the consequences that this condition entails. In severe cases, discharge splints will be required to prevent teeth grinding during sleep and correction of the teeth in case this is a triggering factor. Equally important will be mitigating triggers, anxiety, stress, and behavior.

In a work published by the Faculty of Dentistry of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León – Mexico 1 describes the following: 36.4% of the awake patients had headaches in the morning regularly and sleep bruxists and combined they had little (33.3% and 37.5% respectively).

To learn more about this problem in the jaw when sleeping, we recommend you consult these other articles by FastlyHealon Bruxism: symptoms, causes and treatment and How to avoid bruxism .

Sleep apnea

Second, we have sleep apnea as the cause of the headache when waking up, it is a frequent disorder in the world population and is considered a pathology of the respiratory system, in which people who snore suffer occasional respiratory stops at night product of the collapse in the pharynx.

This implies that during the day, in addition to waking up with a headache due to poor rest at night, there is drowsiness. Usually, those who suffer these episodes of apnea tend to have a wheezing snort that wakes up their companion, they can present chronic fatigue, cardiovascular problems, respiratory problems, swelling in the legs, hyperactivity and even depression.

The normal thing is to rest at least between 6 and 8 hours a day, otherwise, the stress hormone will increase enough to cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, this brings with it an intense headache.

It should be clarified that not all people who snore suffer from sleep apnea, but those who suffer from sleep apnea are usually a severe snorer.

Among the common risk factors for sleep apnea, we find:

  • Male.
  • Overweight people.
  • Family history of sleep apnea.
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Small airways.
  • Hypertrophic or swollen tonsils and adenoids.
  • Short lower jaw.
  • Large neck.

The diagnosis is made by health professionals through what is called a sleep test such as polysomnography or respiratory polygraphy.

Therapeutic measures for the treatment of sleep apnea may include:

  • Weightloss.
  • Play sports.
  • Relaxation therapy
  • Good nutrition.
  • Avoid the cigarette habit.
  • CPAP, which is a pressure generator through a nasal mask with continuous pressure that will prevent the airways from collapsing.
  • Surgical treatment if necessary (hypertrophy of adenoids or tonsils).

Headache on waking: other causes

  • Late Night Caffeine Consumption : By nature, caffeine is a globally recognized psychostimulant. It is recommended to take 450 mg / day daily as the maximum dose to avoid adverse side effects. When the dose is greater than that described (more than 500 mg / day), side effects may appear, such as insomnia, fatigue, depression, and headache.
  • Alcohol consumption the night before : the consumption of alcohol is directly proportional to the annoying symptoms that appear the next morning after reaching the maximum effect of alcohol in the body. This happens, basically, because alcohol is considered an enemy of the nervous system, that is, a powerful neurotoxic, this is so according to the type of drink and the amount ingested. Symptoms that may appear include weakness, fatigue, severe headache, excessive thirst, dizziness, tremors, and rapid heartbeat, among others.
  • Sinus headache: sinusitis or infection of the paranasal sinuses can cause headache after the pressure felt in the cheeks, forehead and eyes with this infectious process. This type of headache tends to get worse, especially when the head is tilted backwards or forwards. Sinusitis is the result of colds, viral, bacterial, and even fungal respiratory infections. Among the predisposing factors for sinusitis, tobacco consumption, climate variations, exposures to environmental agents and even anatomical variations of the patient, such as deviations of the nasal septum, are included.
  • Vision problems: there are several ocular pathologies related to the appearance of headaches. This includes myopia, hyperopia , astigmatism and even muscle-extraocular problems. Suffering from any of them tends to trigger a headache at any time of the day.
  • Suffering from diabetes mellitus: one of the symptoms that can manifest at the beginning of this disease is headache, this occurs in conjunction with other manifestations, such as blurred vision, fatigue and increased thirst.
  • Side effect of medications: many times, headaches on waking are related to the intake of a drug and its possible side effects, standing out among all anxiolytics and analgesics. The latter, above all, can cause a detrimental effect when used indiscriminately, since they can be purchased without a prescription.
  • Restless legs syndrome: The urgent need to move the lower limbs is what is called as restless leg syndrome . It is common for people to manifest this sudden movement during rest hours, considerably affecting the quality of sleep and consequently generating what is known as insomnia, leading to a headache in the morning upon waking up.
  • High blood pressure: blood pressure and its variations can be manifested in different ways, in some cases, when these blood pressure figures vary, rising in very early hours, the person may have a headache related to tension when there is vasodilation. . Consequently, there is an increase in blood flow and, consequently, muscle tension.
  • Muscle tension: resting in the wrong posture can significantly affect the quality of your sleep and, in turn, wake up with a headache.
  • Depression: An episode of depression or, failing that, an anxiety attack can trigger a morning headache. This occurs when this episode does not stop slightly in hours of night rest.
  • Dehydration: During the day, the body needs to be well hydrated. This allows that at night the blood vessels, which are in the head, do not contract to produce more fluid, a product of daily dehydration. If so, you will probably wake up with a severe headache.

What to do if I have a headache when I wake up?

The recommendations basic to the pain of morning headaches include:

  • Sleep on an optimal mattress.
  • Avoid caffeine consumption in the hours before rest.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Eat properly.
  • Drink plenty of water during the day and before going to bed.
  • Go to the ophthalmologist if you have vision problems.
  • Do not put the body in the wrong positions to sleep.

There may be many causes related to the headache upon waking, but most of them can be adequately treated after medical evaluation, also ensure that this specialized review is periodic if you suffer from an associated disease.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Headache when waking up: causes , we recommend that you enter our Brain and nerves category .

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