Nearly everyone wakes up with a headache now and then, but if starting your day in pain has become a normal occurrence, that’s a sign that something’s amiss. But because our bodies are so complex, there are many potential causes of morning headaches and it can be difficult to identify the root cause of your pain. “It’s important for anyone with headache that’s affecting their life to see a doctor so they can be properly evaluated and not just rely on self-treatment or self-diagnosis,” says Simy Parikh, M.D., an assistant professor of neurology at the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University.
A good physician will do a neurological exam, ask about your medical history and really listen to your story to figure out why you’re waking up with headaches. “Many people think that because headaches are so mundane — everybody in the world could experience headache and just about everyone does at some point in their life — that it’s not something you can do very much about,” says Thomas Berk, M.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Neurology Division of Headache Medicine at NYU Langone Health. “The truth is that there are many really effective and safe options for treating headaches.”