Hypnic Headache – Location, Causes and Treatment

Hypnic Headache is a disorder that occurs exclusively during the night, to people over 50 years of age, almost always waking them up from the sleep, as a result of pain. Due to this characteristic, it is more often known as “alarm clock headache”.

Location of pain

Pain occurs on both sides of the head sometimes on one side of head.

Hypnic Headache

Duration of pain

The pain usually lasts from a few minutes to 6 hours on average. While, in most individuals, the duration of pain was just 30-60 mins, with one attack per night and around 15 attacks in a month.

The most common Occurrence

Hypnic Headache is most common in people over the age of 50 years with a female predominance.


  • The pain, throbbing in character
  • Photophobia
  • Phonophobia
  • Nausea
  • Nasal congestion


There is no known cause of but a few studies suggest some sort of relationship between the headache and stages of sleep.

A few times, people experienced a single episode, the headache in such cases can be associated with:

Hypnic Headache and Menopause

It is very commonly seen in Postmenopausal women, affecting their night time sleep.

Treatment: Calcium channel blockers and caffeine are given as bedtime doses. This increases blood flow to the heart and perfusion.

How is a Hypnic Headache Diagnosed?

To reach a proper diagnosis, accurate information regarding sleeping habits and quality of sleep experienced by the patient is required. The physician might require:

  • Blood tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Sleep studies that involve pattern, quality, the quantity of sleep, and sleep time habits.


  • Aspirin: As an over the counter analgesic.
  • Triptans: For migraine associated Hypnic Headache.
  • Phenobarbital: Seizure associated headache
  • Melatonin: For better sleep.
  • Indomethacin
  • Caffeine
  • Lithium Carbonate but that requires proper monitoring.

Home Remedies

  • Try taking enough sleep
  • Drink a cup of coffee before Bed or take a Caffiene pill.
  • Release stress by doing exercises like Yoga to have a good night’s sleep.


Why do i often wakeup with severe headache in the middle of the night?

Hypnic Headache exclusively occurs during the night when you’re asleep, waking you up from a good night’s sleep.

What is the best treatment for Hypnic Headache?

Lithium Carbonate is the best treatment option available but it comes with some side effects.

What age group is most commonly affected by Hypnic Headache?

People in their 50’s mostly report with Hypnic Headache but a few cases in their 40s have also come up with complaint of this type of headache.

How long does Hypic Headache last?

Headache usually lasts from a few minutes to 6 hours on an average. While, in most individuals, the duration of Headache was just 30-60 mins.