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Waking Up with Migraine: Not a Dream

Woman in pain waking up with migraine

Waking Up With Migraine: Why??

Waking up with a migraine is not exactly how one hopes to start the day. According to the American Migraine Foundation, early morning is the most common time to wake up with a headache or migraine. This can be due to medication wearing off or the headache emerging and the person being unaware so they are not taking the medicine at headache onset.  

Other potential causes can be caffeine withdrawal, dehydration, or stress.  This is a reminder that continuing to take care of ourselves is so important to our well-being. That said, this migraine life doesn’t always stick to the rule of if you just eat healthy and drink lots of water you won’t get a migraine. The person with migraine knows the reality is there are times a migraine is going to attack and there is nothing you can do about that. In those times treatment and support must be your game plan. Read my post about Chronic Migraines and Relationships.

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What do you do if you wake up with a migraine?

My personal experience is the unnerving worry of waking up in the middle of the night or in the morning with a migraine.  If this happens, I ensure I drink water as I find staying hydrated is also important. Then I take my medicine to hopefully stop the migraine. If I am lucky this keeps the migraine from becoming a full-blown migraine attack.  

This does require me to do a little self-assessment. I need to consider the pain location, symptoms, and level. I have several things in my medicine cabinet. For example, if I wake up and determine this is more of an aches and pains issue I will try to treat those initially so that I don’t medicate if unnecessary.

Woman waking with pain

I may also decide if the pain is actually low to use other relief aids like my face mask or migraine cap and my migraine stick and/or cream.  There are numerous times these have saved me from more pain. Information on getting the migraine stick and creme is in the Amazon links below or here. You may also read more about them in my Migrastil Stick and Creme Review. These are truly out of my own experience and honestly hope you find what works best for you. Sometimes in combination with medication, these can prevent the big guns so to speak need to be taken and can also prevent a hospital trip in the worst-case scenarios. 

However, if I have a clear migraine I follow my neurologist’s advice and take my migraine rescue medication. It is very important to follow your doctor’s recommendations. I cannot stress this enough.  You must also know your body and continue to be your own advocate in the conversation with your healthcare provider. You are a team and they are there to support you. 

Doctor for paient waking with migraine

So as you check your symptoms do so in a timely manner. Migraine medications typically work better at headache onset and waking up with one may mean you have already missed that window.  You can only do your best with what you are presented with. If you are in a migraine attack in my experience taking my migraine medication right away is very important. Again always important to follow the doctor’s orders. Keep your medications filled and on hand to ensure that at all times you will have what you need. Especially when you aren’t feeling your best and when you are tired, having things accessible can make a difference.

When Lack of Sleep is Related to Waking Up with Migraine

good night sign for waking with migraine

Sleep and migraines have a deep relationship at times. For me, lack of sleep can be a direct link to a migraine attack. That said, God has sure blessed me with coffee and grace through the early years with my sweet little ones. As time goes on, I see that sleep is so valuable and I have to be diligent about taking care of myself. I tend to see a long to-do list and ignore the clock. However, as time passes I see the need to ensure I am getting sleep. Otherwise, I wake up feeling lethargic and a migraine may quickly follow even if it hasn’t started yet. 

Life is busy and isn’t always the migraine sufferer’s best assistant in a treatment plan. People are busy with work, families, and many other responsibilities. Lack of sleep can be a trigger for a migraine. So creating space in your schedule for sleep and rest is not something the migraine patient can afford to live without doing. I say this with transparency as I have admitted watching the clock and being accountable for my time is a daily goal and choice. It isn’t one of intention to bring harm. So much good intention in fact. We just have to be diligent about our health. 

woman sleeping/waking with migraine

Waking Up with Migraine: Compounding Triggers

Lack of sleep is not only a single trigger, but when combined with other factors it is an even greater recipe for causing an attack. Throw in stress, weather changes, and even hormones. Then you have a perfect storm or brew for waking up with a migraine instead of a feeling of refreshment. 

This reality reminds us that for the person with migraine, life is truly about the big picture and though it may seem like a heavier weight at times the little things can sometimes become the big ones. We can’t afford to skip a meal, skimp on sleep, or even neglect our own self-checkups. Our health depends on it.

pillow and eye mask/waking with migraine

Waking Up With Hope

I sometimes fear I will wake up feeling bad. I can go to bed taking meds and know there is still a risk they will wear off and I will be in pain. What I have found is that all I can do is my best. So I do that and I pray. I take care of myself, kiss my babies, and go to bed. If I wake I drink extra water and if time takes more meds or use relief aids. 

On the pain-free days I feel peace, kiss my babies, and pray. When I wake I hope for more.  There are many good days. Those are the days to hold onto. The others keep me humble. This life is blessed. 

Some Favorites

Here are some of my favorites for sleep and relaxation. A note on the diffuser and essential oils: I do use Young Living Oils currently, but there are other brands out there. This particular diffuser comes with some. You may find that you prefer a certain brand. My Young Living oils have lasted a very long time. You only use a few drops at a time. Lavender is also a very calming scent, but we must be mindful of our triggers. There are many options, including peppermint and eucalyptus. Feel free to reach out with questions.

woman waking up with eye mask

Look Ahead

Here at migraineroad I will be writing more about migraines and teaching, exercise, and the holidays.  Thank you for being here.  Reach out with questions or for support on the contact page. 

Stay connected by joining our newsletter or the Facebook Group for community. This migraine life can be challenging, but as always it is better to travel with friends. 


Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the medical and health area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any medical or health-related decisions. For your health-related questions, please seek the advice of a licensed physician or any other qualified health care provider immediately.


Sleep disorders and headache. American Migraine Foundation. (2022c, December 1).

17 thoughts on “Waking Up with Migraine: Not a Dream”

  1. Great tips! I’d always wondered about whether migraine sticks were helpful. I’d love to try those out! And from my experience I agree with how important sleep is! Thank you for sharing all these helpful tips!

  2. Pingback: How Migraines Affect Daily Life - Migraine Road

  3. I had no idea this was so common, and thought I was alone in waking up with a migraine. These are wonderful tips that I’ll definitely try out when this happens in the future. Thanks!

  4. I hate when I get migraines this is why I wear blue lenses. This article was very helpful! I will use these tips moving forward.

  5. I am lucky as I have never had a migrate – yet! I think this article would be most helpful for a few people I know who suffer from these debilitating headaches.

  6. I have started making my own gatorade with sea salt and lemon in my water bottle. I think it’s helped me to hydrate after waking up, because I do think being hydrated helps me to ward off migraines, as you mention. It is very aggravating to wake up with a migraine, not a good way to start the day at all!

  7. I have woken up with migraines in the past, and it is the worst way to start off your day. Even though I work from home it absolutely ruins my workday. You had some really good suggestions, and I am going to take a closer look at some of them.

  8. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty about migraine and sleep. Thinking big picture would seem helpful but I also love your vulnerability and honesty about the concerns of sleeping with migraines and the importance of gratitude and hope. This is a great post! Thank you!

  9. Thank you for always providing new and helpful tips for suffering from migraines. I’ve spent most of my life dealing with migraines and always appreciate any insight into dealing with them. Waking up with a migraine is one of the worst feelings knowing the day is potentially ruined.

  10. The only time I’ve ever gotten migraines is upon waking up. It’s a terrible way to wake up! For me, I’ve noticed that I’m more likely to get a migraine if the heater is blasting in the winter. That somehow triggers me. I’ll have to look into the products you recommended. They would be very helpful!

  11. Waking up with a migraine does not sound ideal at all. You are accurate in saying we need to be diligent about our health. Easier said than done at times, but still so important. Your advice, personal story, and calm but informative way of writing I’m sure is helping many!

  12. I know people who suffer from migraines and they have shared that it’s debilitating. As you point out, some are triggered by the weather (as in arthritis pain), which I have always wondered how does that happen.

  13. I always find your posts so insightful. It’s comforting reading someone else’s similar experiences. I literally always learn something new from reading!

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