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Reasons You Keep Waking Up With a Migraine

Published on 20th March 2024
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Waking up with a migraine may be due to various factors, like dehydration or poor sleep quality.
Reasons You Keep Waking Up With a Migraine
Reasons You Keep Waking Up With a Migraine

Table of Contents

  1. Migraines Can Cause Headaches
  2. What Causes Waking Up With a Migraine?
  3. Preventing Waking Up With a Migraine
  4. Individualized Treatment Plans

There is still much to learn about the relationship between sleep and migraines, but research has found a connection. Waking up with a migraine may be due to various factors, like dehydration or poor sleep quality. Sometimes, people experience a migraine every morning, and sometimes, the migraines occur randomly. If you are waking up with a migraine during the night or in the morning, there are some steps you can take to reduce migraine frequency and intensity.

Migraines Can Cause Headaches

Do you frequently wake up with a migraine in the morning? It is more common than you may think. The American Migraine Foundation says that more than one billion people globally are experiencing migraines, with 37 million in the U.S. Past research found that one out of every 13 people wake up with a headache in the morning.

A migraine is different from a headache. A headache can be painful but is usually due to one of three reasons: tension, sinus or dilation of the brain’s blood vessels due to hormone releases. A migraine is a neurological condition that involves nerve cells in the brain.

When the nerve cells are stimulated, the brain’s electrical activity is affected, producing symptoms like nausea and flashing lights in your vision. Migraines can cause headaches, usually when the trigeminal nerve is stimulated and sends pain impulses to the brain. The nerves are believed to cause the release of substances that lead to inflammation in the brain’s blood vessels and covering tissue.

Waking up with a migraine is stressful, which makes it even more likely the migraine will persist. Stress is one of the triggers of migraines.

What Causes Waking Up With a Migraine?

Migraines occur most often in the morning, frequently upon waking. You may wake up with a migraine in the morning for several reasons.

  • Sleep disorders
  • Dehydration
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Sudden weather change
  • Skipped meals
  • Depression
  • Low blood sugar
  • Hangover
  • Some medications
  • Hormonal changes
  • Teeth grinding

Sleep and migraines are related. It is known that poor sleep quality can trigger migraines and tension headaches. Another related sleep factor triggering a migraine is getting too little or too much sleep. A review of medical studies found that poor sleep quality was the second most common headache trigger reported.

There are various sleep problems or disorders that may lead to migraines. They include insomnia, sleep apnea, irregular sleep-wake rhythm, narcolepsy, sleep terrors and REM sleep behavior disorder, to name a few. Migraine sufferers often report having sleep problems, which is why addressing sleep quality may prevent migraines.
Some people experience a migraine while sleeping, which wakes them up. Researchers have found that most migraine attacks while sleeping occur during REM sleep, which is when bad dreams occur. A headache that wakes you up is called a hypnic headache. One out of three people experiencing hypnic headaches has a history of migraines.

Preventing Waking Up With a Migraine

Following the recommendations for preventing waking up with a migraine may help you control or end migraines in the morning.

  • Develop good habits like maintaining a consistent sleep schedule every day
  • Create a restful sleep environment that is quiet and dark
  • Unwind at least an hour before going to bed
  • Manage stress during the day
  • Eat regular healthy meals
  • Stay hydrated
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Do not smoke
  • Avoid getting fatigued

If you are experiencing depression, it is crucial to see a doctor. People who are struggling with depression or anxiety are more likely to experience poor sleep and migraine events. If you have a migraine every morning, you must see a doctor for a physical examination to ensure no underlying medical conditions need treatment, like high blood pressure or low blood sugar.

Over-the-counter medications may sometimes help, but you should not take them for more than ten days. If you continue to experience a migraine in the morning, a doctor may prescribe medications. They include beta-blockers, antidepressants, and calcium channel blockers.

Woman with chronic pain

Waking Up with Migraine is Common

Waking up with a migraine is common and should be addressed with self-help measures based on a doctor’s advice. Ongoing poor sleep quality can lead to other medical issues, on top of experiencing migraines, like high blood pressure and anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle that needs disruption.



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