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Early Morning Awakening Headache

Cluster, migraine and tension-type headaches may produce a headache that awakens an individual in the early morning hours (usually after 4 AM), or is present upon awakening. Those individuals with chronic tension-type headache are most likely to be awakened in the early morning hours due to headache. This headache also tends to be at its worst severity at that time of day. A variety of causes may account for this early-morning pattern to the headaches.

Depression is most often associated with chronic tension-type headaches. Additionally, withdrawal effects from pain medications, ergots and caffeine often produce this pattern. Several important physiological changes that occur during these early morning hours can influence migraine and tension-type headache, as well as symptoms other than headache.

Between about 4 AM and 8 AM, the body tends to produce less of its natural painkillers, the endorphins and enkephalins, than at other times of the day. Adrenalin is released in larger quantities during the early morning hours. Since adrenalin affects blood pressure and the regulation of dilation or contraction of the blood vessels, it may play a role in migraine attacks.

Serious diseases may cause early morning awakening headaches. These diseases may include brain tumors, sleep apnea, and severe high blood pressure.

5 Comments
  • Kenneth Commey
    Posted at 10:39h, 01 July

    My headache is like that of a hangover. Just slight. My BP in the morning is usualy between 130 and 135 I am 69 african male.

  • Kenneth Sylvester
    Posted at 12:40h, 08 June

    I am happy locating this sight. I do have headaches sometimes from sleep so I was carrying out researches on possible causes. Please profession ally speaking
    Is it normal for one to be waking up with headaches even after hours of normal sleep as in up to seven hours?

  • Kimberly Smith
    Posted at 21:34h, 27 May

    For the past week every time I go to sleep being naps or bed time. I wake up early morning 4 or so my head is killing me and down my neck feels hard as a rock. I don’t use caffeine but it seems to be more and more When it gets bad I usually take a goody powder. Should I see a doctor?

  • Diana Dodge
    Posted at 13:36h, 21 May

    Often I get a painful morning headache that wakes me up, but it isn’t always daily. It occurs ONLY on the left side of my head, from my lower neck up to the top of my head/scalp, and around the inner ear socket. On the top of my head/scalp, it feels “hot” as a sensation as well, slightly throbbing. I don’t medicate but just wait it out for an hour or few and then it goes away. Another way I can usually stop this headache is to shower – that usually ends it. It was good to read this article to know more about this condition. As for my blood pressure in general, it is erratic, sometimes perfect, sometimes medium high, sometimes really high, I take Losartan for that. Thank you for reading this.

  • Annette Genovesi
    Posted at 11:54h, 05 April

    My early morning occasional headaches are not sharp and painful. It just seems to be “through my head.” In addition, I feel kind of overheated. I usually rub my head for awhile; then it goes away.

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