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Headaches After a Nap: Causes and How to Treat Them

Headaches After a Nap: Causes and How to Treat Them


Aoife O.
Nov 02, 2020

Having the rare opportunity to enjoy a daytime snooze feels great. You snuggle down under your coziest blanket but wake up feeling groggy and with a sore head. Your much-needed nap has turned into a nightmare.

When you wake up from nap with headache it can spoil the rest of your day. But, a headache after nap is generally nothing to worry about. There are various reasons to explain why that annoying headache has appeared. Let’s discover why you can experience a headache after a nap and how to prevent them.

Primary Headaches vs. Secondary Headaches

Not all headaches are the same. Check out this Healthline article to learn more about different types of headaches.

Primary headaches are a single issue and not the result of other medical problems. A migraine, cluster headache, or tension headache can occur from neck muscle pain, overactivity of the nerves, brain chemicals, or blood vessels. Primary headaches can also be hereditary.

Secondary headaches occur as a symptom of a current medical condition that activates pain-sensitive nerves in the head. A sinus infection, ear infection, flu, or any other illness has the potential to cause secondary headaches.

What Causes a Headache After a Nap?

A headache after sleeping is generally nothing to be concerned about. It can be explained away by not drinking enough water, sleeping in an odd position that strains your neck, allergies, sleeping too much, or sleeping too little. If you’re experiencing chronic headaches, see your doctor for a check-up.

If you’re experiencing chronic headaches, see your doctor for a check-up.


Dehydration can cause many health problems so it’s best to sip water throughout the day. If you’re busy running errands and have not stopped all day, or skipped lunch, a headache can occur. Dehydration can cause a dry mouth and lips, dark-colored urine, feeling dizzy, and ill-tempered.

Muscle Tension

A headache worse after nap could be a sign of muscle tension. Muscles in the neck and shoulders or jaw pain can transfer to the head, resulting in a tension headache. These headaches can occur from repetitive strain injury, sitting too long as your desk, or driving a long distance without a break. Gentle stretches and frequent rest breaks when working and driving could prevent tension headaches.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding while sleeping is said to signify too much sugar in your diet but it could be caused by an active dream sequence too. Clenching teeth as you sleep puts tremendous strain on your jaw muscles and can cause toothache and headaches.

Excessive Caffeine

A yummy coffee in the morning can give you a bolt of energy to start the day. It is believed that a shot of espresso before exercise can aid stamina and insurance too. But, overindulging in java can have some nasty effects including headaches. Drinking too much coffee and not enough water during the day can lead to migraines.


Ever have a hunger headache? Skipping breakfast can lead to lunchtime headaches as a lack of food causes blood sugar levels to plummet. If you take a nap on an empty stomach, a headache after sleeping could be experienced. Snack on a small banana and glass of milk before your nap if you feel hungry.


Experiencing a headache after sleeping too long has many causations but allergies are a major culprit. Allergies cause pressure in the head, resulting in a nasty migraine. If you sneeze a lot, eyes feel sore or itchy, feel tired, and feel like you’re coming down with something, allergies could be to blame. Ask your doctor if antihistamines could help your symptoms. You may also want to consider hypoallergenic bedding, like antibacterial bed sheets.

Can Snoring Cause Headaches?

If you complain to your partner ‘my head hurts when I wake up every morning’ and they can attest to your snoring, you could be at risk of sleep apnea. A condition that causes your breathing to stop and start throughout the night. Consult your doctor if snoring is causing exhaustion and irritability.

Can Pillows Cause Headaches?

Your pillow causing headaches could be a sign your pillow is too soft or too hard, and not pressure-relieving enough. An adequate pillow allows your spine to remain aligned and ensures no neck pain when you wake up.

A headache from pillow pressure is easily identifiable, take a good look at your pillow and if your head is too low or too high on the pillow, consider switching to a pillow that allows your spine to remain in alignment. Nolah offers a premium pillow with customizable height, the Adjustable Shredded Foam Pillow.

Can Too Much Sleep Cause Headaches?

Sleeping too much could be a sign of depression, anxiety, or hormonal disturbance. Adults generally need 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night. You can learn more about sleep duration and timing here.

If you feel you need more, you may be lacking in certain vitamins, low in iron, or coming down with something. Ask your doctor for advice if you feel you’re sleeping too much.

Home Remedies for Relieving Headaches After Naps

  • Exercise daily
  • Reduce caffeine consumption
  • Limit daytime naps
  • Practice relaxation techniques before bedtime
  • Develop a relaxing nighttime routine
  • Stay hydrated

Click here to learn more about napping benefits and statistics.

When to See the Doctor

See your doctor if:

  • You’ve made lifestyle changes but they haven’t helped
  • A sudden intense headache back of head that won’t go away
  • The headache pattern changes
  • The headaches get steadily worse over time


If you experience a headache after nap, it could mean you need to eat something or drink some water. Dehydration and hunger headaches typically go away once you eat and drink something. If a headache persists, it could be down to allergies or illness. Therefore, ask your doctor for a checkup to rule out any health concerns, and be sure to eat well and drink plenty of water every day, as these are major causes of headache after nap.

Disclaimer: Nolah does not provide medical advice. All resources on the Nolah blog, including this article, are informational only and do not replace professional medical counsel. Talk to your doctor about any health, mental health, or sleep-related issues.

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