There are good ways to wake up, and there are bad ways to wake up. A good way to wake up is to be greeted by the smell of coffee and bacon wafting through your nostrils. A bad way — the worst way, honestly — to wake up, is with a splitting headache that follows you through the rest of your day. If this happens to you regularly, then you've likely wondered why you always wake up with a headache, no matter how much sleep you get, or how many over-the-counter meds you take.
Now, there are a lot of different factors that could be contributing to your morning headaches. Some common causes of headaches can include caffeine withdrawal, sinus issues, dehydration, or just plain stress. Caffeine withdrawal may sound like a funny one at first, especially if you're a habitual coffee-drinker like myself. But if you have a headache in the morning that seems to clear as soon as you've had a few sips of coffee, there's a good chance you're experiencing the symptoms of withdrawal in the morning because it's been several hours since you last drank coffee.
But if you're not as dependent on coffee as the rest of us, waking up with a headache can also happen when you're sick with the flu or a common cold.
When your sinuses are completely congested, it leads to pressure in your neck and head that can trigger pain behind your eyes.
Unfortunately, there's not much to do to stop a headache when you're sick, besides continuing to take painkillers and hydrate. If you have the flu, a headache is often an indicator of an oncoming fever, so you might want to see a doctor if the pain persists — especially considering how bad this current flu season has been. If you're even remotely wondering whether you might have the flu, you're better safe than sorry, so just make the d*mn appointment, ya feel me?
Another common cause of that dreadful morning headache is good old-fashioned stress. When you're super stressed out, your body releases chemicals that can provoke a headache. What's more, stress can lead to poor sleep, and it can also contribute to certain habits that make your head hurt, like grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. As a habitual teeth-grinder myself, I know what nights I've really gone after it because my head hurts like absolute hell when I wake up. Some people find relief by wearing night guards (aka little plastic mouth guards) that protect their teeth when they try to grind them at night.
If you're still not nailing down the exact source of your pain, one of the most common causes of a headache is dehydration.
If you're waking up with headaches all the time, you might not be drinking enough water in general. Having a big glass of water before you go to sleep could keep headaches at bay (and just make you a healthier person overall).
Depending on the cause of your headache, there are plenty of ways to prevent that morning pain. First, the best thing you can do is try your best to locate a possible source of the pain. Do you think it's caffeine withdrawal? Dehydration? Stress?
Think about what you're eating, how much water you're drinking daily, and how your mental health has been lately.
Once you've located what you think might be the culprit, you can then take concrete steps toward a solution. If it's caffeine withdrawal, you might want to consider working on decreasing the amount of caffeine you consume daily — slowly, of course, so you're not hit with a mother of a headache that lasts for days on end.
If it's stress, try approaching the solution the same way you'd approach the stress itself: work on ways to relax, and pick up some habits that encourage a healthy mindset, like meditating or going for a run.
If you have no clue why your head is killing you, then it might be time to talk to a professional. Headaches are often totally benign, but they can also potentially be indicators of bigger health issues, so it's always a good idea to speak with a professional about what's going on.