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What Causes Migraines In The Morning

How Are Migraines Diagnosed

What Causes Morning Headaches?

To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will:

  • Take your medical history
  • Ask about your symptoms
  • Do a physical and neurological exam

An important part of diagnosing migraines is to rule out other medical conditions which could be causing the symptoms. So you may also have blood tests, an MRI or CT scan, or other tests.

Headache Vs Migraine Symptoms

Headaches occur for a variety of reasons and range in location, severity, and duration. Aside from migraine, there are several other headache types, including:

  • Sinus headache: This type arises from pressure in your sinuses, often due to congestion or illnesses like influenza or the common cold. It usually affects the face, nose, and cheeks.
  • Tension headache: The most common kind of headache, tension headaches usually affect the forehead or back of the head. Stress, eye strain, and hunger are all causes of this type.
  • Cluster headaches: These are very painful and occur dailyor even multiple times a dayfor prolonged periods of time. These often arise when blood vessels serving the brain dilate. Common triggers include physical exertion, bright lights, and altitude.

Though headaches are the principal sign of migraines, they cause a range of other symptoms. Theres a good deal of variation between cases as well. Migraine attacks progress in stages, each with distinct characteristics:

Why Am I Waking Up With A Migraine

Theres a close relationship between sleep and migraines. Disruptions in your natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, can trigger attacks, and, in turn, migraines can interrupt your sleep patterns. Its little wonder that those with sleep disorders are more likely to experience this condition.

Disruptions in sleep due to several disorders can be at the root of your morning migraine, including:

  • Insomnia: This disorder is characterized by an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This is because both insomnia and migraine may be due to the activity of some of the same brain regions and neurotransmitters.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea:Interrupted breathing while youre asleep characterizes this condition. It can cause snoring, cold sweats, sudden waking, and excessive nighttime urination.
  • Teeth grinding:If you grind your teeth at night, a condition called bruxism, muscular pain around the temporomandibular jointthe hinge that connects your jaw to the skullcan cause headaches to flare up.

Though they can happen at any time of day, migraines most commonly arise in the morning hours, between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Whats behind your morning migraine attack? Several factors may be at play.

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How Can You Treat A Migraine That Happens In The Morning

If you wake up with migraine symptoms, Brandes says that taking an acute migraine medication as soon as youre able to is an essential part of managing your pain. Brandes also recommends drinking water before eating a small breakfast that includes protein, along with six to eight ounces of caffeinated coffee . Caffeine helps more people with migraines than not, but should be used in limited quantities and earlier in the day. If caffeine is a clear trigger, avoid it, and always avoid caffeine overuse, she says. Avoiding bright lights or strong sensory stimuli might help make symptoms more tolerable. If your symptoms are severe, 15 to 30 minutes of rest may help as a next step.

A migraine can slow down your bodys ability to metabolize medication, which is why its recommended that you treat one as soon as it appears. Of course, if it appears while youre sleeping, thats not really an option. Treating morning migraine attacks may require medication that can get into your system quickly, like a rapidly-dissolving oral medication or a nasal spray, says Nahas.

Preventative migraine treatments continue to expand, and newer medications that are specifically designed to reduce migraines are now on the market. According to the Mayo Clinic, monthly or quarterly migraine injections, antidepressants, blood pressure medication, and anti-seizure medications have all been used with some success to help treat migraines.

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Rare Causes Of Morning Headache

18 Causes Of Early Morning Headaches

The following medical conditions are rare causes of morning headaches:

  • Cluster headache
  • DNA oral appliance for sleep apnea and teeth grinding
  • Mouth guards for sleep apnea
  • Avoiding alcohol, drugs, caffeine, and unhealthy foods

7 tips for getting better sleep:

  • Reduce screen time a few hours before bedtime, because blue light exposure tricks your brain into thinking the sun is out.
  • Turn the temperature in your bedroom down a couple of degrees.
  • Take a hot bath before bed, then sleep under cool sheets. As your body temperature decreases, you naturally want to go to bed.
  • Do not exercise within a few hours of bedtime. This increases your body temperature.
  • Do not consume any caffeine within several hours of bedtime, including coffee, sodas, or chocolate.
  • Limit fluid intake within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Go to bed and wake up at consistent times.
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    When To Talk To Your Doctor

    You should talk to your doctor if you start experiencing headaches that you did not experience before, if the headaches wake you from your sleep, or if your headaches change in any way, especially if they are severe. You should also contact a healthcare professional if your morning headaches are accompanied by any other symptoms, such as loud snoring, vomiting, or feeling tired during the day. In preparation for your doctorâs visit, consider keeping a journal next to your bed to record the frequency and intensity of your morning headaches.

    Your doctor can run tests to see if you might have a treatable sleep disorder or other medical condition. They can also work with you to change your medications and implement productive lifestyle habits to help reduce morning headaches.

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  • The Link Between Headaches And Insufficient Sleep

    If youâre looking for a way to upgrade almost every aspect of your life or just feel better and enjoy yourself more often â improve your sleep. Or if something feels off and youâre just not feeling or performing at your best, poor sleep is probably playing into that in one or more ways. And your health and wellbeing are certainly affected. Letâs take a look at sleepâs role in pain and morning headaches.

    Sleep loss increases the production of proteins that cause chronic pain in the body. Because sleep deprivation reduces pain tolerance, it can make what might have been minor cranial discomfort register as a full-blown headache. And insomnia is a risk factor for higher headache frequency .

    The mechanisms of sleep are not fully understood, but we do know that sleep supports proper functioning of the glymphatic system, which helps clear the brain of protein waste products and is most active during sleep. Thatâs why sleep can have a therapeutic role in terminating a headache, and getting sufficient sleep â and keeping sleep debt low â is protective against headaches.

    Sleep debt is the amount of sleep you owe your body â as compared to the sleep your body needed â over a 14-day period. Paying it down and keeping it low to reduce the risk or severity of headaches starts with good sleep hygiene.

    Sleep hygiene is the upkeep of behaviors that impact the way you sleep. Here are some guidelines for improving yours:

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    Other Causes Of Headaches And Migraines

    Sleep apnea might be the cause of your frequent headaches and migraines, however, there are many more potential causes including the following.

    • TMJ disorder
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Brain tumor

    One of the best ways to determine if your headaches are due to sleep apnea is to get a sleep apnea diagnosis. Our team can help you take a home sleep test and receive a diagnosis from a sleep physician. If you experience any of the other symptoms of sleep apnea like snoring, coughing or choking during sleep, daytime sleepiness, inability to concentrate, restlessness, memory loss, and inability to lose weight, we strongly encourage you to take a sleep test.

    Why Do Migraines Happen In The Morning

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    In migraine, attacks often strike in the early morning hours, just by the nature of the disease. Reasons for this are complex and not well understood, but its believed that the way the brain goes through the sleep-wake cycle has something to do with it, says Nahas.

    A 2017 review of 85 surveys found that sleep was the second-most common headache trigger for people with tension headaches and migraines. . An inconsistent sleep schedule, getting too much or not enough sleep for your body, and sleep-related health conditions like sleep apnea can all interfere with your sleep quality and be the reason you are waking up with a migraine.

    In a large 2005 study of people with migraines published by Headache, people with chronic migraines tended to sleep for less time each night, and were more likely to have trouble getting to sleep. Migraine and poor sleep quality can feed off of each other and create a cycle of waking migraine and insomnia.

    Researchers have established a strong link between certain mental health conditions and migraines. One study of 2,907 people showed that 63.8 percent of participants diagnosed with migraine had depression, and 60.4 percent had anxiety. The symptoms of these conditions can also mean that you are more likely to have difficulty getting quality sleep, resulting in morning migraines.

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    Accept What You Can’t Control

    Some of these are other people, time, weather, and your monthly cycle. Control what you can, and let go of the rest.

    Menstrual cycles and incoming storms are two major triggers for many that are pretty unavoidable. What you can do is limit exposure to other triggers during these times. Take extra good care of yourself if you know they’re coming.

    You’re Having A Stroke

    Occasionally, a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes could be caused by a stroke. Other symptoms can come on quickly too, including sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, confusion, trouble walking, loss of coordination or an intense headache that seems to appear out of nowhere, per the NIH.

    Fix it: Call 911 immediately if you or someone else is having signs of a stroke. Rapid treatment is needed to keep oxygen flowing to the brain and prevent brain damage or serious disability, per the Mayo Clinic.

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    Causes Of Morning Headache

    Here are a few reasons why you get headaches in the morning:

  • You’re low on painkillers. Between 4 and 8 a.m., your body makes less endorphins and other natural pain-reducing chemicals. Also, by morning, any pain pills you took before bed have worn off.
  • You snore.Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. During sleep, in people who have sleep apnea, the muscles in your throat relax and block your airway. Then you can’t get enough oxygen into your lungs. This can raise the carbon dioxide levels in your blood and increase the pressure in your head. Both of these can set off headaches. Snoring itself can also cause morning headaches.
  • You don’t sleep enough. Headaches are up to eight times more common in people with sleep disorders, including sleep apnea and chronic insomnia, than in the rest of the population. Just the stress of being tired can cause headaches.
  • You’ve taken too many pain relievers. Long-term use of pain medicine to treat your headaches can sometimes lead to more headaches. These rebound headaches often strike in the morning hours.
  • You grind your teeth. You may not realize that you clench your teeth while you sleep. Grinding creates tension in the muscles of your jaw and face. This tension can trigger a headache.
  • You’ve got the wrong pillow. A pillow that doesn’t properly support your head puts too much pressure on your neck and shoulders. Muscle tension in those areas can lead to a headache.
  • You Have A Rare Eye Infection Or Injury

    6 Causes of Morning Headaches

    Blurry vision can sometimes be caused by serious eye problems, including a corneal ulcer, herpes or amebic infections, Dr. Krauss notes. Often the blurriness will occur alongside other symptoms like pain, cloudy vision or a visible spot on your cornea.

    Fix it: Serious eye infections can cause permanent eye damage, so they need swift medical attention, Dr. Krauss says. See an eye doctor right away.

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    Many People Frequently Get Headaches In The Morning Medical News Today Cites Amf In An Article Outlining Five Common Causes Of Early Morning Headache

    Headache disorders are the number three global cause of time lost to ill health, according to the World Health Organization. Living with headache and migraine can be challenging, but lifestyle changes can often alleviate some symptoms.

    This article from Medical News Today looks at common causes of Early Morning Headache, such as sleep deprivation, depression and anxiety. Each cause has a unique solution, and the piece offers suggestions for reducing risk and tips for seeking professional help.

    If you suspect snoring and sleep apnea may be causing your morning headache, read this article by the American Migraine Foundation. Learn more about other potential causes of Early Morning Headache here.

    Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundations subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. to read about our editorial board members.

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    What Causes Hypnic Headache

    We dont fully understand what causes hypnic headache. Its likely that it involves the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that is responsible for a range of bodily functions including body temperature, thirst, sleep cycles, blood pressure and heart rate. There is a need for more research into the causes of hypnic headache.

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    You Have A Migraine Coming On

    Migraines often begin in the morning, and for some people, they’re preceded by visual symptoms including vision loss or seeing different shapes, bright spots or flashes of light. These signs, called migraine auras, usually start off gradually and intensify over the course of an hour, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    Fix it: There’s no cure for migraine, but you may be able to lessen the intensity by taking action against your symptoms sooner. Taking your prescribed migraine medication, moving to a dark and quiet room, drinking fluids and placing a cool cloth on your forehead can help, per the NIH.

    When To See A Doctor For Morning Headache Pain

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    The bottom line is that head pain combined with neurological symptoms, like those mentioned at the beginning of this article, are always considered abnormal until proven otherwise. Therefore, if you wake up with a headache and any symptom that feels off to you, your headache then falls into the Pain-Plus category, which means its best to see a healthcare professional.

    This is especially true if you feel like youre experiencing adult-onset migraines. In most cases, migraine sufferers start getting them in their teens or 20s. Therefore, if youre already in your 30s, 40s, or older and start developing what you think are migraines, or if you feel unfamiliar neurological symptoms, consult your doctor.

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    Not Enough Or Too Much Sleep

    Many of us arent prioritizing sleep. We sacrifice sleep for other things: work, play, or even social media. But getting enough sleep is critical to brain health, and if youre not getting enough, you may experience serious headaches.

    You might experience:

    • Suicidal ideation
    • Lack of interest

    Note that sometimes sleep apnea is misdiagnosed as depression, and that morning headaches are common to both conditions.

    Morning Migraines What Causes Them

    Waking up to find that youre suffering from a migraine attack is one of the worst ways to start the day. Sadly its not uncommon for migraine sufferers. Many of us are regularly greeted in the morning by an attack already underway, with early morning between 4-9 a.m. being the most common time for migraine headaches to occur.

    There are a few reasons why morning migraines, as theyre sometimes called, happen. Dehydration is one. The American Migraine Foundation have found that up to a third of migraine sufferers say that dehydration, even mild dehydration, is a trigger. Countering this by drinking lots before bed isnt necessarily the best idea though, since going to sleep only to wake up an hour or two later needing the loo can contribute to another morning migraine trigger disturbed sleep.

    There is an established relationship between sleep disorders and migraines. For example studies have shown that people with insomnia have an increased risk of suffering from migraine headaches compared to people who dont have insomnia. Poor sleep quality can also be a migraine trigger snoring, teeth grinding, and a failure to reach REM sleep as a result of waking up too often can all be migraine triggers. So too can a general lack of sleep, or even too much sleep. Small wonder then that migraine attacks beginning in the morning are common.

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    Your Eyes Are Strained

    Spending long stretches staring at screens or spending time in a very dry room can strain your eyes and make it harder to see clearly. “Eye strain is often associated with a reduced blink rate and therefore increases the dryness of the eyes, leading to blurred vision,” Dr. Krauss explains.

    In addition to blurry vision, eye strain can also make your eyes feel tired, itchy or sore, watery or dry, according to the Mayo Clinic. You might also experience a headache or feel like it takes a lot of effort to keep your eyes open.

    Fix it: Take frequent breaks when you’re using screen-based devices to look away and give your eyes a rest. Also useful: Regularly using saline drops or artificial tears to keep your eyes hydrated, which can help stop strain from happening in the first place, the Mayo Clinic notes. If your indoor air is very dry, running a humidifier can also help, says Dr. Krauss.


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