Are you waking up with a headache every morning lately? Can this be a brain tumor or more likely from migraine disorder?

There are multiple reasons for waking every morning with a headache.

But what about, specifically, migraine disorder?

“The answer is yes,” says Lenny Cohen, MD, founder of Chicago Neurological Services; diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Dr. Cohen explains, “Migraine headaches are usually mostly affecting patients upon awakening.

“It can be related to a number of causes related to sleep quality, possible dehydration and teeth grinding.

“Other types of headaches can also wake up patients. Those include hypnic headaches and cluster headaches.

“They usually have different clinical presentation but can be confused with migraine headaches.”

There are other reasons as well for waking up with a headache.

But first, you should know that the rare hypnic headache will likely wake you long before it’s time to get up for the day.

This is why they’re called “alarm clock headaches” and can surface in the middle of the night – sometimes the same time, such as around 3 am.

Cluster headaches, too, typically wake a person in the middle of the night.

Morning Headache: Waking up WITH Pain

The true meaning of “waking up with a headache” means that you may not even know you have one until your alarm goes off, or when a noise brings you out of sleep close to when you’d normally get up anyways.

Or, you may spontaneously wake up – and then realize you have a headache, even though the pain did not bring you out of your sleep.

If this is happening every single morning, or even most mornings, and there are no other neurological symptoms such as vision issues, weakness, cognitive changes, balance problems or clumsiness, it could be from obstructive sleep apnea.

It’s not likely to be a brain tumor simply because brain tumors are actually uncommon and, by the time they’re causing headaches, there will probably be other symptoms – or soon will be.

So it’s more likely to be a migraine as well as from sleep apnea — even if you’re not overweight.

A morning headache from sleep apnea will very likely be accompanied by daytime symptoms such as trouble concentrating, moodiness and easily falling asleep, never feeling refreshed – even dozing off while driving.

You’ll also want to take notice of any variables such as a new pillow, sleep position or strained neck or shoulder muscles from exercise – which can result in head pain overnight.

A person with a headache every morning may, just by coincidence, have both sleep apnea and migraine disorder.

A sleep study, which can be done at home, will detect sleep-disordered breathing.

A full dental checkup is also important, because temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ-D) can cause headaches at any time.

TMJ Headache vs. Brain Tumor Headache: Symptom Comparison

Merging traditional medicine with alternative therapy, Dr. Cohen uses advanced science and a devotion to personalized care to provide men and women a unique approach focused on their long-term health and well-being.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 


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