Can Lack of Sleep Trigger Headaches In The Morning?

Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Headaches


Headache or, in medical language, cephalgia, is the pain located in the head area, but it can also occur in the neck area or the upper back.

Most of the time, headaches could work as an alarm signal of the body when it is confronted with unfavorable environmental conditions, such as noise pollution, incorrect lighting, or a temperature that causes discomfort.

The World Health Organization (WHO)[1] estimates that half of the world’s adults suffer from headaches at least once a year, with headaches being one of the most common headaches faced by modern men.

Headaches can also be a symptom of another condition, so they need to be monitored carefully, especially in terms of intensity and frequency. 

30-Second Summary

  • Sleep disorders are often associated with tension, migraines, and episodic headaches. 
  • Headaches at night or in the morning may be related to conditions, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, depression, anxiety, or bruxism. 
  • Poor sleeping habits are one of the most common causes of headaches. Fortunately, it’s also the easiest problem to solve.  
  • Treatment of headaches depends on the cause of the headache. There are different types of medication, but it is the doctor who can determine the diagnosis and treatment.

Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Headaches? Know The 6 Causes 

Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Headaches

The frequency and intensity of headaches can hide more serious conditions, but what does it mean if you have a headache after waking up

Can lack of sleep cause headaches? Let’s take a closer look at the potential causes and conditions that trigger headaches in the morning.

  • Insomnia – Insomnia affects sleep patterns and leads to what is called sleep deprivation. This condition is a predominant cause when you experience a headache after waking up. Sleep deprivation caused by insomnia can also cause migraine headaches.
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  • Depression or anxiety – Studies show that the most aggressive triggering factors for chronic morning headaches are anxiety and depression. These can lead to episodes of insomnia, which increases the risk of morning headaches.
  • Snoring or sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) – The disruption of normal sleep caused by snoring or sleep apnea syndrome can be the source of the headaches you experience early in the morning[2]. Snoring itself can be a condition or a symptom of sleep apnea syndrome. Generally, a sleep apnea headache lasts less than 30 minutes.
  • Teeth grinding at night (bruxism) – Teeth grinding is called, in specialist language, bruxism. This can happen during the night, as an involuntary clenching of the teeth while the person sleeps. Bruxism can cause an unwelcomed headache after waking up[3]
Depression or anxiety
  • Tense muscles – Headaches at night followed by headaches in the morning can be the result of tense muscles in the neck. Try to find a good sleeping position and the right pillows that provide support for your head and neck during sleep.
  • Drinking alcohol or taking medication – Headaches at night that continue in the morning may be the result of alcohol consumption or medication use. For example, some medicines can affect your sleep cycles, interrupting them, and as a result, you wake up with a headache first thing in the morning. According to the American Migraine Foundation, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to restless, inconsistent sleep, and an early morning headache[4].

What Are The Different Types Of Headaches? 

Types of headaches that are sometimes associat with a headache after waking up in the morning include:

  • Migraine – A type of headache that can cause a pulsing sensation
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  • Cluster Headache – It occurs in cyclical patterns, causing pain
  • Hypnic Headache – It can happen at a certain time at night while the person is sleeping
  • Tension Headache – It can cause pain behind the eyes, head, or neck that can be mild or severe
  • Chronic Paroxysmal Hemicrania (a localized headache); Recurrent unilateral episodes of headache are common manifestations and may occur five times a day
  • Headaches Caused By Drug Overdose – Induced due to use of illicit drugs, including opioids, cocaine, and cannabis. These headaches can also caused by long-term use of medication for treating headache

What To Do And Not To Do For Better Sleep

As explained up to this point, it is obvious that the answer to the question; can lack sleep cause headaches – is a big yes. But sleeping conditions can perfected. Here is what you need to do and not do to get a good nights’ sleep.

What To Do And Not To Do For Better Sleep


  • Reduce Time In Front Of The TV – Increased use of portable electronic devices, from e-books to smartphones, and time spent in front of the screen before bedtime are making it increasingly difficult to fall asleep. As well as reducing your sleep hours, the light emitted from these devices can affect your circadian rhythm (your sleep and wakefulness pattern).
  • Organize Your Thoughts – Try setting aside 30 minutes as ‘worry time’ before you go to bed – after that, when you want to go to sleep, you can remind yourself that you’re already done worrying! No more headaches at night!
  • Drink Some Warm Milk – A caffeinated drink can keep you awake through the night, but a cup of warm milk contains an amino acid that stimulates sleep[5]


  • Drink Coffee Late In The Evening – You already know that caffeinated drinks energize you and keep you awake. Avoid drinking coffee and caffeinated juices in the evening before bed. You may not know that some decaffeinated drinks can contain as much as 20 mg of caffeine. 
  • Eat Fatty Or Spicy Foods – Overly fatty or spicy foods can cause gastro-esophageal reflux, which will prevent you from falling asleep[6]. Avoid eating any type of food 2 hours before bedtime, but also avoid fatty and spicy foods served at the evening meal.


If you wake up with headaches in the morning, know that you can get rid of them by removing the causes. Pay attention to your body, know what signals it is sending you out, and learn how to get rid of the pain and start the day strong! 

The lack of sleep cause headaches when you woke up in the morning and can have other several causes – most of which are easy to remove. 

Even if you often get headaches in the morning, there’s no need to panic. They’re generally not a sign of a very serious problem.






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