Why do I wake up around 4am with a Migraine?

Any idea why I wake up around 4am with a Migraine?

I can go to bed at the usual time, feel fine, then around 4am wake up with the most awful Migraine. This happens quite frequently. I sleep well from when I go to bed, until the pounding in my head wakes me. Lack of sleep is not a trigger and I don’t think it is food related. I have a graveyard of pillows I have tried over the years and nothing seems to help.


Community Answers
  • Laura Bascietto
    1 year ago

    Me, too. My neurosurgeon from Hopkins told me decades ago (after doing a CT brain scan) is that it probably is due to my neck issues…my diagnosis is “chronic intractable failed neck pain syndrome (status post cervical fusion c5-c6) with chronic daily headaches complicated by a migraine disorder 3-5x wk”. I also have numerous cervical pillows I rotate. I now have to sleep with a soft cervical collar to help with the cervical radiculopathy I now have down into my left hand which otherwise wakes me up and keeps me up sometimes for hours. I sleep with a gallon size storage baggie half full with large ice cubes balanced on the side of my head (I’m a side sleeper thus every time I turn over to the other side I wake up and have to readjust the ice pack!!!! Grrrrr!). I usually require two of these baggies in any one night. The only way I can get over a migraine is to lay still in a totally dark, quiet room with the ice baggie after taking my opioids and fall asleep (rarely do I get over a migraine without sleep). My problem now is trying to get my doctor to prescribe the Midrin I used to take that helped with my daily headaches and the onset of migraines and helped me fall asleep. Sometimes it can take 1, 2, 3, 4 hours to fall asleep without the Midrin (my health drug plan covers it). I take Melatonin and GABA and other supplements to help me sleep as well as Benadryl but that just helps keep my standard day/night sleep schedule halfway decent (one of my migraine triggers is insufficient/irregular sleep as well as environmental sensory overload triggers ie light, noise, odor and weather/barometric changes, crying/stress, no alcohol and eat very bland food!!!). I need a doctor in the MD/DC/VA area who accepts Federal BC/BS insurance and would continue my opioids for my failed neck pain as well as my opioids for migraines and also would prescribe Midrin (and in my dream world would also prescribe muscle relaxants for my joint-hypermobility Ehlers Danlos episodes of subluxation/dislocation of shoulder/ribs and for my periods of limited/almost immobile neck). Good luck to one and all! We are just too darn complicated for the average doctor!

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi there AdrienneS,
    Thanks for reaching out! As you wait for possible feedback from the community, I thought I’d share an article that discusses Hypnic Headache. You can read more about it here to see if this sounds similar to what you are experiencing – https://migraine.com/living-migraine/nighttime-headaches-after-age-50/. Have you spoken to your doctor about this? Also, have you at any point kept a migraine diary/journal? https://migraine.com/blog/importance-of-keeping-a-migraine-journal/. While you mention it likely not being due to food, it still may important to identify and track these details in order to hopefully pinpoint a possible trigger(s). Hope some of this is helpful! -Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

    Nice hearing from you!
    Take care,
    Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • AdrienneS author
    1 year ago

    Thank you for your reply. I have had various medications over the years for general migraines with limited results but nothing specifically for these ones that come on in the early hours. I do keep a record with Migraine Buddy (when I remember) but most of the time I am just so releived when the Migraine has stopped that I get busy getting on with my life and often forget to record it. I haven’t spoken to my doctor specifically about these types of migraines.
    Thank you for sending a link to the article. I will read it carefully and possibly discuss with my doctor. Quite honestly thought the doctor doesn’t really have a clue about migraines. I have had a brain scan a few years ago and that didn’t bring up anything unusual so I just treat them with 100mg of Diciofenac which sometimes helps and coffee, which also sometimes helps.

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