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Triggers and Causes

Waking With Migraine

  • By ChunkyPeanutBar

    Hi All!

    Everytime I get a migraine (I’m not 100% they’re migraine but think so, I get no nausea or sensitivity to light or sound but sometimes do) and I repeat EVERYTIME I get a migraine, I wake with it.

    Something is obviously happening in my sleep. Anyone else get this?

    I either wake with a slight headache, and it gets worse during the day, or I wake and it’s bad straight away, or I wake and I feel groggy or my head just doesn’t feel right (no headache but can kind of tell one might come) and one develops. However, if I wake without one but I think one is coming, if it hasn’t started within a couple of hours it doesn’t. If I wake without a headache, I never get one start within the day. I only ever wake up with one.

    What’s the cause, anyone any ideas?

    Changed my pillow a few months ago as well as the one I had was too deep. My bed is comfortable.
    I’m pretty certain I’m not teeth grinding either.


  • By lapixie

    Do you noticed this happening with barometric changes?. I have the same problem. However, a lot of things trigger my waking migraine. Hormonal changes, Weather specially. Going to bed late or drinking red wine with more tannins than others. Etc. What I do, if I have it one day, I tried to take my migraine medicine before to bed. That usually helps to brake the cycle.

  • By ChunkyPeanutBar

    Hi, thanks for the reply.

    Not sure if it will be hormonal changes being male haha!

    Barometric changes (changes in air pressure?. Not sure about that one.

    Not sure.

    Oversleeping is definitely a factor but happen at times when I don’t. If I sleep 7.5-8 hours, I’m ok, 8.5 hours and there’s a 10% chance of a headache, 9hrs or more and it dramatically increased to 60-70% chance.

  • By lerickson82

    Sounds like getting on a sleep schedule should help, especially since you say that oversleeping increases the chance of getting one. That means going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday, and limiting yourself to 7.5-8 hrs.

    Do you have any neck/back pain on the migraine days when waking? You said you have a new pillow and a comfy bed, so I’m guessing not.

    you didn’t really say how often this happens, but if it’s pretty often, you might want to see a headache specialist and talk to him/her about preventatives and/or they can possibly help you discover why this is happening.

    The ones that I wake up with are always the worst!

  • By ChunkyPeanutBar


    Yeah this happens occasionally. It happens when I haven’t got to get up for anything so I oversleep.

    Yes, I think I need a schedule. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time and not exceeding 8 hrs.

  • By Anonymous

    Hi All

    I am avidly following all news about the lost MH370 plane and came across the term : ‘It may have been a hypoxic flight’
    So on checking that out found this article here written for pilots
    and could not believe my eyes when I read the list and sequence of symptoms!
    This is exactly how migraines were for me, and the worst ones in the mornings.
    So it seems to me that some oxygen deprivation was taking place in the night.
    “My first identifiable symptom is slight pressure behind my eyeballs. What follows is a fuzzy feeling in my brain and a headache. I’ve also felt a swelling sensation in my fingertips and experienced a limited field of vision. Since the inability to think clearly is hard to identify unless you’re in a controlled environment, it is nearly impossible to determine when that symptom sets in. But I definitely experienced this subtle and highly disconcerting symptom in the altitude chamber.” …. read on ….

    As per below the research medics have already tried something like that albeit in a very small trial.

    “Migraine Headaches May Cause Brain Damage, Mouse Study Shows
    In short, the team found that the brain develops a voracious demand for energy as the organ attempts to restore the delicate chemical balance that is lost in the initial throes of a phenomenon known as cortical spreading depression, which is thought to underlie many migraines.
    Even though the brain’s arteries expand dramatically and make a great deal more oxygen-rich blood available to meet the demand for energy, some parts of the brain still wind up experiencing severe oxygen shortage, or hypoxia. This causes parts of brain cells’ sophisticated signaling structures to disintegrate, similar to what occurs when a person has a mini-stroke, or after a severe injury, or when blood flow to the brain is completely stopped, such as during a heart attack.” ….read on….

    I think all this could have great significance to migraines. The blood may not always carry enough oxygen due to various reasons – genetic, tension, diet, lack of exercise, hormones, barometric pressure. So many possibilities open up and probably some people have a more delicate oxygen balance than others.

    BUT, could a dose of oxygen be one of the treatment possibilities??
    Maybe some researcher will read this and can tell us.?

  • By redkeystone

    Hi @chunkypeanutbar

    I felt like you described my symptoms exactly. I wake up with a headache, I feel like I get a headache if I oversleep, and it worsens during the day. And I don’t have light sensitivity. I have changed my sleeping patterns so I go to bed and wake up at the same time. But it hasn’t helped.

    Now I’m investigating if high carbohydrate intake could have something to do with my headaches.

    It is also interesting to read about oxygen deprivation during the night. Not sure how to check it or improve. I already have a nice bed, pillows etc.

    Anyway I wanted to let you know that there are people with exactly same symptoms as you.

  • By anphelps31

    Sleep apnea can cause headaches upon waking.

    I went to a sleep clinic because someone suggested it to me for my CDH and the doc was like “okay you’re skinny, you don’t smoke, and you don’t have a wide girth of your neck, so you probably don’t have it but we can test anyway.” Turns our I was having eight episodes per minute when I stopped breathing and my O2 dropped below 90. So doc was ridiculously surprised, guessed that it may be my soft palette that’s collapsing during the night, and then said I can try a CPAP to see if it’ll help. And it did. I mean, not miraculously, but I definitely noticed a difference.

    Tl;dr get a sleep study, ya never know

  • By ChunkyPeanutBar

    I’ve been tempted to get a thermal imaging camera to monitor my sleep. Had another bad one all day today.

  • By Mr. Bob

    Hi @chunkypeanutbar

    Like you, I occasionally wake up with migraines. Unlike you, I get migraines during the day as well. Like all migraine sufferers I’ve spent weeks, months and years on trying to determine the triggers etc. and while I am far from knowing each and every trigger, I did notice that I am more prone to get a migraine after eating certain foods, during certain times of the year, in certain cities, and after doing certain things.

    In regards to migraines upon awakening, I did notice that it happened more often in the following cases: After consuming alcohol, bus more commonly; if the bedroom was too hot; before I go to sleep, I tend to look at the weather and set the a/c accordingly. And many times; if the heat turns out to be too high; I wake up with a migraine.

    Hope that helps. Good luck!

  • By ChunkyPeanutBar

    Another strange thing I get, is I live alone and get low moods and stuff or just nothing going on in my life for long periods (days), and if I have a good few days with good things happening, the headaches tend not to happen or I noticeably wake up in a better mood and looking forward to whatever it is I’m doing that day as soon as I get up. How does that affect sleep and also headaches though? could it be that when nothings happening in my life, then maybe it’s a positivity thing and it somehow affects brain activity during the night and maybe even dreams in the night, sounds far fetched I know but when positive good things have been happening in a certain period, I’ve noticed I wake in a better mood and feeling more refreshed and headache free, it’s very rare I get one. I have also noticed I dream more in good periods too. Just a theory.

    Like I’ve just had 3 weeks off from uni, and had a headache 2 days in a row and a bit of one today (all on waking) but thankfully todays one has dissipated now and I’ve also had about 3 the past week or so, and it’s been over a long period off from university with next to no company sitting in my flat on my own. I also in these periods spend a lot of time on my laptop as I’m bored, so probably about 8 hrs a day staring closely at a computer monitor.

    anphelps31 – yes, I need some sleep analysis. I will speak to my doctor about it.

  • By manytriggers

    I was told that I didn’t fit the typical stereotype of someone who has a sleep disorder – in good shape, weight is appropriate don’t drink or smoke – but I know that I wake myself up from not breathing. Have not taken the plunge because like everyone else, I suppose, I am not eager to wear a breathing apparatus all night.
    However, let me say this: if I do not keep my head elevated now (for the past 3-4 years) I will wake up with a migraine. It seems that this trick – sleeping on two pillows – keeps me breathing. However, it has not been great for my neck.
    My migraines have continued to grow in frequency and just got out of the hospital this morning from what they think may be an ocular migraine… woke up with the room spinning and it wouldn’t stop. Was taken to ER and received meds for vertigo. What followed a couple of hours after the dizziness stopped, was a 12-hour migraine. 3 does of imitrex, along with pain meds and some prednisone finally brought it under control. SO, after 40 years of dealing with them, it has finally gotten to the point (3-4 per week now) that after this episode, I am seeking more answers than I have found in the past.

  • By faeriefate

    Oh my… I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE! THANK F** I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE! I’m doing a log for a specialist, and they as for triggers or causes in the log. I’m like, “F*** if I know, I just woke with it.” It’s INFURIATING! Sometimes I just wake up feeling off, knowing I’ll get a migraine that day. Sometimes I wake up I can’t move. I can’t walk. I’m dizzy, I feel like sh** , and my head hurts. Sometimes I’m somewhere in between with a migraine, but not a full blown one yet. regardless, 90% of my log says “woke with it, and it sucks a**.

    Sorry for the language, my migraines are chronic, and you can guess the irritation and frustration you go through with chronic pains. Life is hard to enjoy because I’m in a perpetual mood of doped up from medicine and suffering from migraine.

  • By scarletlove

    I notice I wake up with a migraine if I drank alcohol close to bedtime. Is that another pattern for you?

    • By ChunkyPeanutBar

      Yeah I’ve stopped drinking alcohol because of it. I will definitely get a headache if I drink before bed, so as I say, I’ve stopped. Only had a couple of cans of lager in 2 years.

  • By thoroughbred31

    faeriefate : You’re definitely not the only one! I wake with horrid migraines.

  • By ChunkyPeanutBar

    Sorry to here faeriefate, you sound the same as me.

    Just wake with them and I need to do a diary really. I haven’t had one for 3 weeks till a couple of days ago and bam, woke feeling groggy, then a couple of hours after getting up I’ve had one for 2 days now. It’s been kept at bay with paracetamol and ibuprofen to a degree.

    Scarletlove – no, no alcohol. Although if I do have alcholol before bed I will certainly wake with a headache so I choose to not drink.

  • By Bee

    I too only experience migraines when waking up with one, usually 3 to 4 am. I thought too that something sleep related was causing them but have recently been able to recognize that I have warning signs the night before so think they actually begin earlier and just manifest into a severe migraine as I sleep or possibly wake up.

    I do keep to a rigid sleep schedule as too much sleep would bring on a migraine. I do wonder if exercising in the evening contributes especially since I can sometimes feel a bit over heated at bedtime and sometimes wake up very hot before a migraine.

    There certainly doesn’t seem to be much advice or suggestions on this topic of waking with migraines anywhere I have found yet.

  • By ChunkyPeanutBar

    I have researched online and found that there are 6 reasons you can wake up with a migraine. They are:-

    1) Oversleeping / Undersleeping or not getting into a regular sleeping pattern.

    2) Brixism (teeth grinding or teeth clenching during sleep.)

    3) Fluctuating serotonin levels during sleep.

    4) Dehydration. ( I always have a small glass of water before bed now.)

    5) Bad sleeping posture (funny angles that may affect your neck and therefore induces a headache.)

    6) Allergy (house dust mites etc). I’ve tried washing my duvet covers more often and changing my bed sheets more often. I do need a new pillow. The one I use has seen it’s day.

  • By Dizzy.FitChick

    I sometimes wake with a migraine. I notice that if it rains the night before I will wake with a stuffy head that would eventually turn into a migraine. Also, if I have a nightmare I will wake with a splitting migraine. I use to be on depression meds and I also noticed that my dreams use to be very vivid and I would wake with a migraine. I’m not sure if it’s the stress from the nightmare or what. Temperature during the night also is a factor. If it is too warm while I’m sleeping I am sure to wake with a migraine.

  • By Sherrell

    My migraines are triggered by by barometric pressure. I am better than a meteorologist! My sinuses can tell you when a front is moving in. If I wake up with a migraine, it”s the worst kind. It typically means 3 days of my life in a dark room. I am on an antidepressant, (effexor) an regular dose of Topomax (anti-convulsant) as well as magnesium, and imitrex as needed. They do a great job for prevention, unless I wake up that way. Heat on my forehead, pressure at the base of my head, imitrex, darkness and quiet is what I need. Those are also the ones that make me want to throw up. I have a littlle something so I don’t throw up my meds and go to bed. Carbs and dairy clog my sinuses and set off mini migraines so I have sadly eliminated gluten and dairy. But it sure beats the headache, and I’m losing weight. I also have a CPAP and it helps! Not my favorite, but again, it beats the migraine.

  • By JPaula

    I just found this older thread. For years I have been awakened around 3 or 4 with a “headache” that will get severe if I don’t take something. One neurologist I saw a few years ago diagnosed them as “hypnic” headaches. A circadian rhythm disorder headache. For awhile 5 mg of Melatonin helped very much – and then it didn’t. I have experienced this several times where something will help for 6-8 weeks and then it stops. Has anyone else experienced this? It happened with Magnesium (topical cream), Vitamin B2 as well.

  • By glassmind

    I know a woman,who solved waking migraines simply by putting a humidifier in her bedroom. She still gets sinus allergy trigger migraine, but not,the waking migraine.