Headache is one of the most commonly experienced health issues around the world. However, when someone experiences a headache in the evening or night-time, it is often due to something that they have been doing during the day. Such as sitting in front of computer screens throughout the day or not drinking enough water leading to dehydration. These afternoon headaches interfere with sleep and lead to additional problems the following day such as irritability and fatigue.
How does it feel?
Headache in the evening can be due to any reason and thus the symptoms may differ according to the cause. Anyhow, some commonly experienced symptoms are:
- Headache in the back of head and shoulders due to stress
- Headache in the forehead due to strain
- Headache in the temples
- Pain behind eyes
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and irritability
What are the causes of headache in the evening?
There can be several causes for headaches to develop in the evening, some of these are as under:
One can get dehydrated after working for long hours in the sun or heat. Excessive dehydration throughout the day causes the brain to temporarily shrink away from the scalp which leads to the development of a headache. This eventually settles down once adequate hydration is taken.
2. Eye strain
Sitting in front of computer screens throughout the day puts successive strain on the eyes and forehead, which leads to the development of a headache. This type of headache is often vanished by the morning after taking complete rest throughout the night.
Diminished blood glucose levels caused by not eating properly during the day may cause a headache by the end of the day. This is often accompanied by fatigue, dizziness, and agitation. People who are taking antidiabetics are more prone to developing these types of headaches.
4. Sleep disorders
People who have sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia also tend to develop a headache at bedtime when they constantly struggle to fall asleep but fail. Such people require medical attention as well as relaxing therapies for stress relief.
5. Excessive alcohol consumption
Excess alcohol intake causes intense headaches in the front of the head. These headaches occur in people who drink excessively in the evenings. Sometimes the headache is not induced by excessive consumption but due to withdrawal. These headaches are common at the time of the day when the body expects a dose of alcohol.
6. Hypnic headache
Hypnic headache exclusively occurs at night at a specific time every day and is also known as an alarm clock headache. The pain ranges from mild to severe in intensity and occupies both sides of the head, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
People who have hypertension also develop a headache due to high blood pressure. In such cases, the blood pressure should be closely monitored and lowered within limits as soon as possible.
What may trigger a headache in the evening?
A headache in the evening can be triggered by several factors, some of them being:
- Excessive heat during the day
- Driving at night with low vision
- Strain on eyes
- Poor posture
- Lack of sleep.
People with chronic headache conditions such as cluster headaches, tension headaches, and migraines are easily triggered and are more likely to develop a headache in the evening.
The occurrence of these headaches on daily basis is related to lifestyle and behavioral patterns one has adapted and are often relieved once the person gets rid of his/her habits. However, if one keeps on getting these headaches on an everyday basis and takes over-the-counter painkillers for relief, he is very likely to develop medication overuse headaches which are resistant to any pain relief and require drastic lifestyle modifications.
Management of evening headaches
It is very important to diagnose a headache that develops every day in the evening for effective treatment. This can be done by your physician by taking a brief history of your symptoms and inquiring about your daily routine to help you figure out the triggers. In some cases such as hypoglycemia, he might also advise some blood tests to confirm the cause.
- Over-the-counter pain killer for pain relief
- Triptans for migraines
- Antidepressants for people with anxiety or depressive disorders
- Indomethacin for hypnic headache
- Oxygen therapy for cluster headache
- Ergots prove to be helpful for chronic migraines
- Beta-blockers in case of headaches caused by hypertension.
The development of a headache every day in the afternoon can be easily prevented by identifying the trigger and cause behind it. Some of the general precautionary measures include:
- Control the amount of alcohol one consumes
- Keep a check on caffeine consumption
- Avoid the use of medications every day for more than 15 days
- Avoid sitting in the same position for more than 3 to 4 hours
- Avoid the use of computer screens for too long
- Drink an ample amount of water during the day.
- Sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours everyday
- Drink adequate water throughout the day
- Take a snack every few hours to counter hypoglycemia
- Try relaxing exercises such as yoga for stress relief
- Acupuncture has proven great benefits in patients who are chronic migraine sufferers
- Aromatherapy for stress relief
- Try hot or cold compresses for acute pain.
When to consult a doctor?
If you have been experiencing a headache every day in the afternoon or at bedtime for more than a week you should consult your physician as soon as possible and try to make minor lifestyle changes. Other than this if headaches start to become worse or are followed by danger signs such as vomiting, dizziness, fever, or temporary blindness one should consult his doctor immediately.
Why do I always get a headache in the evening?
A headache in the evening often develops due to something that you have been doing during the day. Such as sitting in front of computer screens throughout the day or not drinking enough water leading to dehydration.
What does a headache at the same time every day mean?
A headache that occurs at the same time every day is known as a hypnic headache and is also known as an alarm clock headache.
Is sleeping with a headache dangerous?
No, sleeping with a headache is not dangerous but it is very uncomfortable and unpleasant you may wake up to be irritable and groggy the next morning.