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Morning Headaches

Smita Pandit Jun 18, 2019
The contributing factors for morning headaches might include conditions such as sleep apnea, bruxism, hypertension, or restless leg syndrome. This write-up provides information on these conditions.
A headache is medically referred to as cephalalgia. When you wake up with pain or a feeling of heaviness in the head instead of feeling fresh and energetic in the morning, it certainly leaves you feeling very exhausted. While stress and lack of sleep are major contributing factors, one may wake up with pain due to an underlying medical condition.

Contributing Factors

While we might occasionally experience pain or discomfort in head due to lack of sleep or a hangover, recurring episodes could be indicative of certain medical conditions.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that is characterized by interrupted or shallow breathing at night. In severe cases, the affected person might wake up several times at night to resume breathing. He/she remains oblivious to the fact that one may have woken up at night. This results in a disturbed sleep, which in turn may cause our head to hurt or ache in morning.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a sleep disorder in which the person unconsciously keeps moving his/her legs throughout the night. The affected individual might also experience tingling sensation in the feet during sleep. This results in a disturbed sleep, which in turn may give rise to pain or heaviness in head on waking up.


Tension and emotional stress can also cause the head to hurt. If your personal or professional life is causing a great deal of stress, sleepless nights become a normal phenomenon. Lack of sleep and emotional trauma can contribute greatly to tension headaches. Anxiety or depression could be the contributing factors for tightness in head every morning.


The term 'blood pressure' refers to the pressure exerted by the circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. The normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mm Hg. It is believed that severe hypertension could be responsible for causing a throbbing sensation or pain in the head that is worst in the morning, and wears off as the pressure gets lowered.

Teeth Grinding

Morning headaches in children could be caused due to several factors. Teeth grinding at night is one of them. Many children have a habit of grinding their teeth while they are sleeping. This causes tension in the muscles of the jaw, neck, and shoulders, which in turn may cause pain in the head.

Bad Sleeping Posture

Bad sleeping posture could be a contributory factor. Using the wrong kind of pillow and sleeping in a tension-producing position could be the reason behind heaviness or pain in the head.
For some people, just changing the pillow and paying attention to their sleeping posture will help in solving the problem.


The first step should be to determine the underlying condition that may be causing pain. Since stress is one of the major contributory factors, it is advisable to try relaxation techniques for stress relief.
Try yoga and meditation to keep yourself composed. Making some lifestyle changes will also help. You must drink lots of water. This will help in flushing out various toxins from your body and will contribute to good health. 
For individuals affected by sleep apnea, doctors usually advise the patient to wear a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask. These masks prevent interruptions in breathing during sleep.
If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, wearing a teeth grinding mouth guard will help. Go to bed early and make sure that you are sleeping in the right posture. Though over-the-counter drugs are available to ease the pain and discomfort, these can also have side effects and can even lead to rebound headaches. 
Therefore, it is advisable to make some lifestyle-related changes. Medical help must be sought, if such headaches occur on a regular basis.
Disclaimer: The information provided is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.