Why am I waking up with a headache?

Teeth grinding can also cause morning headaches. A face mask can also prevent that, she said.

Overuse of medication can also lead to headaches. This includes 15 or more days per month of over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, or 10 or more days per month of prescription pain relievers how opioids or triptans. “Patients don’t realize that drugs as simple as Advil, Tylenol, and Excedrin are really big culprits,” said Dr. Mullin. The best way to prevent these headaches is to cut back on medication whenever possible and take it less than three times a week.

In rare cases, morning headaches are the result of brain lesions, such as tumors, that cause pressure in the skull, said Dr. Mullin. (On average, only about 24 out of every 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with brain and spinal cord cancer each year.) Lying down increases this pressure, so these headaches often occur in the middle of the night or in the morning. And the pain is typically so intense that it wakes patients from sleep. “A headache that wakes you up in the morning gets our ‘this is a concern’ flag for most neurologists,” she said. Often an MRI is the next step to see inside the brain.

Migraines are also a common culprit for morning headaches, said Dr. Merle Diamond, the President and Medical Director of Diamond Headache Clinics in the Midwest. In fact, for unknown reasons, 40 percent of migraine cases begin early in the morning, she said. Many factors can trigger it, including alcohol, dehydration, lack of sleep, too much or too little caffeine, and eating too much or too little the night before. Other triggers include cured meats, chocolate, mature cheese and artificial sweeteners, as well as stress, hormonal fluctuations, weather changes and bright light. Even a change in routine can trigger a migraine, said Dr. Diamond, because “a migraine brain likes things to be really regular.”

Migraines are different from other headaches, said Dr. Diamond. They often throb or pulse and may be accompanied by nausea or sensitivity to light or noise. They often appear on just one side of the head and can last anywhere from four hours to several days if left untreated, making it difficult for people to go about their lives.

To prevent migraines, Dr. Diamond to keep a headache diary—noting triggers and patterns associated with her onset—and then avoiding those triggers. Depending on the frequency and severity of your migraines, a doctor may also recommend prescription medications that can prevent or treat migraines. Since 2018, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a handful of new migraine medications, many of which have fewer side effects than older drugs.