Headache After Nap: 8 Possible Causes

A lot of people report a headache after a nap. Many times the headache is so intense that it becomes debilitating. Sleep and headaches are linked because some parts of the brain control both.


Along with a throbbing headache you might also experience:

  • Nausea
  • Anorexia
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Body aches and general lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness
  • High heartbeat
  • Lack of concentration and coordination

What are the causes of headache after nap?

Several factors contribute to headache after nap, some of which are;

1- Irregular sleeping pattern

People who do not follow a proper sleeping schedule and stay up for most of the night, mostly wake up with a headache. An irregular sleeping pattern can cause an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, which lowers the pain threshold. Any of the sleep-related problems can trigger a headache:

  • Excessive sleep
  • Lack of sleep
  • Disturbed sleep

2- Insomnia

Insomnia is the most common sleeping disorder in people who have frequent migraines. Headache due to lack of sleep is another common problem that affects the quality of life.

3- Hypnic headache

Hypnic headache is a rare condition that exclusively occurs during the night when you’re asleep, waking you up from a good night’s sleep. Headache after nap usually lasts from a few minutes to 6 hours on average.

4- Snoring

People who snore are very likely to wake up with a headache. Since snoring is a habit thus it can lead towards a chronic headache condition. An Important underlying condition is sleep apnea which must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

5- Tooth grinding

Tooth grinding causes mechanical stress and people who are habitual tooth grinders often complain of a headache. Constant grinding may also develop a TMJ headache.

6- Choice of the wrong pillow

Choosing the pillow with the wrong height can tense up your muscles in the neck and back of the head since your head is held in the same position for the most part of the night. This mostly causes tension headache.

7- Dehydration

Sleeping throughout the night and not drinking enough water during the day can be a cause of dehydration headache. Headache might have mild symptoms and can be cured simply by drinking water.

8- Hypotension

The brain is supported by cerebrospinal fluid in its surroundings but as the pressure of CSF drops, the pressure changes can cause a headache. Other symptoms that can accompany a headache are anorexia, photophobia, dizziness, weakness, etc.



Your doctor might ask a few questions to reach the underlying cause which can then be treated.


  • Take a good night’s sleep.
  • Identify your triggers and manage them accordingly.
  • If you’re an insomniac, avoid caffeine before sleep.
  • Hydrate yourself before sleep.
  • Exercise during the day.
  • Avoid stress.
  • Decrease your daytime naps to ensure good sleep during the night.
  • Choose a pillow that supports your head and neck properly.


Each cause is to be treated individually to avoid headache. For that, your underlying cause must be identified and diagnosed by a healthcare professional.

When to consult a doctor?

If your headache persists for more than 2 days and is not relieved by taking any sort of pain killers you should consult your doctor


Why does a nap that is meant to relieve my headache, is causing it?

People who do not follow a proper sleeping schedule and stay up for most part of the night, mostly wake up with a headache. Irregular sleeping pattern can cause imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, which lowers the pain threshold. 

When should I be worried about a headache after nap? 

If episodes of headache are increasing day by day and you have to take analgesics around 10 times a month, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

What other symptoms should I look for? 

Nausea, dizziness, loss of concentration, and shakiness. 

How do I treat a headache after nap? 

Regulate your sleeping habits, avoid napping during the day, and stay hydrated.

Last medically reviewed on August 29, 2022.