Waking up with a migraine: causes, treatments and prevention
Waking up with a migraine is a common complaint among sufferers of this type of headache. This can be due to a number of reasons, including dehydration, poor sleep quality, and caffeine withdrawal. Treatment includes medications and home remedies.
Trying available treatments and preventative techniques can reduce the frequency and severity of morning migraines.
Read on to learn more about morning migraines, including why they happen and what to do about them.
Migraine is a neurological disorder that people
Here are the phases of a migraine.
This stage occurs before the onset of a migraine and usually lasts about 24 hours, but it can also last a few days. Symptoms are subtle and can include:
Not everyone experiences aura, which refers to the sensory sensations that occur during migraines. Auras generally cause visual disturbances, although they can also affect other senses.
Here are examples of aura symptoms, which usually last no more than 60 minutes:
- difficulty speaking
- hear sounds
- tingling, or tingling, sensations
- see shapes or lights
- temporary partial loss of vision
- weakness or numbness of the face or body
This stage involves severe, debilitating pain that can last for several hours or days. Symptoms include:
- stabbing or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
- sensitivity to light, sound, smell, or movement
This is the recovery phase, where people may experience:
Migraine symptoms can be severe and impact a person’s quality of life. Not everyone will experience all the stages of a migraine.
Many factors can contribute to the onset of an early morning migraine.
Factors may include:
There is a
Other sleep-related factors that can trigger migraines include:
Waking up dehydrated can trigger migraines in some people. According to the AMF, up to a third of people say dehydration is a trigger, even if it’s mild.
Other signs of dehydration upon waking include dry mouth, dizziness, and confusion.
Consumption of drugs, alcohol and caffeine
Migraines can often occur early in the morning in people who use over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers. These drugs usually wear off within 4 to 8 hours, which can trigger a drug withdrawal migraine.
Caffeine withdrawal can also occur after several hours without caffeine, which can trigger a migraine.
Finally, alcohol is a common cause of migraine. Drinking alcohol, especially wine, before bed can lead to a morning migraine.
Depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety can contribute to the onset of migraines, as these mental health issues affect sleep and increase stress, which is another migraine trigger.
Hormonal changes in the first hours can cause migraines and other headaches. Around 4-8am, the body produces less endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving compounds. Therefore, migraines may seem more severe upon awakening.
Also, the body produces more of the hormone epinephrine at this time of day. Epinephrine can contribute to migraine attacks.
Other hormonal changes also cause migraines, including estrogen changes that occur before or during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
Other migraine triggers
Many other triggers can cause migraines at any time of the day, including:
A person with migraines may consider the following treatments:
These include pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), and aspirin.
Anti-migraine medications are also available for the treatment of mild migraines. Excedrin Migraine is an example. These contain caffeine, aspirin and acetaminophen.
Prescription medications for migraines include:
- triptans, such as sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra) and rizatriptan (Maxalt), which block pain signals
- dihydroergotamines, which are nasal sprays or injections that alter the constriction of blood vessels in the brain
- opioids, which are very strong painkillers that rarely benefit people with severe, chronic migraine attacks
- anti-nausea medications, which doctors prescribe to treat symptoms of nausea and vomiting
Migraine sufferers can try the following home remedies alone or in combination with drug treatments:
- lying in a dark, quiet room
- sleep or rest
- applying hot or cold compresses to the head and neck
- take a bath or shower
- drink caffeine
- practicing yoga or meditation to reduce pain levels
Medications and behavioral changes can help prevent migraines.
People with migraines can regularly take preventive medications, such as:
Self-care habits can go a long way in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines. Here are some things a person can do:
- Identify and avoid triggers: Keep a diary to identify migraine triggers and avoid or limit them as much as possible.
- Practice sleep hygiene: Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, if possible. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed, as they can negatively affect sleep quality.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and other liquids throughout the day to avoid dehydration when you wake up.
- Regular exercise: Moderate exercise can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines in some people.
A person should seek medical advice if they regularly wake up with migraines or other headaches, particularly if their headache patterns or symptoms suddenly change.
It is important to seek immediate medical attention if any of the following signs and symptoms occur:
- headache after head trauma
- a sudden and severe headache
- neurological symptoms of weakness, vision changes, or sensory changes
- a headache with fever, confusion, seizures, or difficulty speaking
- chronic headaches that worsen during exertion, straining, or sudden movements
- new headache in people over 50
Waking up with a migraine is a common occurrence. It can result from drug or caffeine withdrawal, poor sleep, or natural hormonal changes, among other triggers. If a person has migraines in the morning, they may also have migraines at other times of the day.
People with regular or severe migraines should see a doctor. Treatments include medications and home remedies. Preventive strategies include self-care habits and medications.