What It Really Means When You Wake Up With A Headache

If you've woken up with a splitting headache, a dull ache in the back of your skull, or a slight pinching just behind your eyes, you're not alone. There are a lot of reasons you might be waking up with a headache, and most of them are fairly innocuous and relatively easy to treat and prevent.

Lack of sleep can be the culprit behind your early morning headache: If you suffer from insomnia or another sleep disorder, waking up with a headache is fairly normal. And waking up with an inexplicable headache often can be a sign that you might have an undiagnosed sleep disorder. It's a vicious cycle: "Insomnia can cause tension headaches, which can make it harder to sleep, which can lead to more headaches," sleep medicine physician Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer told the Cleveland Clinic. Sleep apnea can also be to blame.

But there could be a simpler explanation for your headache: A hangover or even mild dehydration can be to blame. If you went a little heavy on the drinks the night before, or you didn't drink enough hydrating fluids post-workout yesterday, your body might simply be dealing with the unfortunate effects of your choices several hours prior (via Bustle and WebMD).

How should you handle a morning headache?

Unfortunately, if you're prone to migraines, you may be more likely to wake up facing one in the morning as your body goes through the hormonal cascade associated with waking up. If you struggle with insomnia, you may be even more likely to wake up with the sharp pain caused by a migraine headache (via Healthline).

Luckily, one of the common cures for a typical headache is caffeine, so feel free to sip your morning cup or two of coffee. Similarly, hydration is helpful, so especially if you think dehydration or a hangover could be the reason for your headache, having a big glass of water might work wonders. A light neck and head massage may help alleviate some of the tension as well, especially if your headache feels like it's more muscular in nature — you may have simply slept in an awkward position (via WebMD).

If headaches have become a regular morning occurrence, you may want to consult with your doctor, who could refer you to a sleep specialist in order to determine the cause and the best treatment option.