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What Causes Headaches At Night Before Bed & How is it Treated?

Do you generally suffer from headaches at night before bed? There are several types of headaches affecting people during the night. Let us know about headaches at night before bed, the types, symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What Causes Headaches At Night Before Bed

What Causes Headaches At Night Before Bed & How is it Treated?

Some types of headaches only affect during the night while some are more likely to occur during the night or early morning hours. In the following section, we will look at different types of headaches that you might experience at night before bed.

Hypnic Headache:

Anyone having a hypnic headache might experience a throbbing pain. These types of headaches are rare. Symptoms of hypnic headaches include throbbing pain, pain that lasts anywhere between 15 minutes to even 4 hours, pain on one or both sides of your head, watery eyes and blocked nose, increased sensitivity to sound and light and nausea.

As per the Migraine Trust, hypnic headaches occur usually in people above 50 years of age. However, they can also affect younger people.(1) Most often females are more likely to suffer from Hypnic headaches than males.

In general hypnic headaches occur only during sleep. If an individual experiences night-time headaches more than 10 times in a month, it is possible that they might have hypnic headaches.(2) In some people, these types of headaches can also occur even if they are sleeping during the day.

It is said that people with hypnic headache wake up every night at the same time. This is the reason, hypnic headaches are also called as “the alarm clock headache”. Some individuals might have more than one hypnic headache in a night.

Treatments For Hypnic Headache:

For treating hypnic headaches, one can consume caffeine before bed. For individuals with hypnic headaches, taking caffeine at bedtime does not seem to prevent them from falling asleep.

In certain cases, other treatment options might be more effective which include, flunarizine, melatonin, indomethacin, and lithium carbonate.

NOTE: If you have stomach ulcers, you should not take indomethacin. Apart from this, if you have kidney or thyroid disease or if you use diuretics, you should consult with your doctors before taking lithium carbonate.

Tension Headache:

Tension headaches are the types of headaches that occur because of stress, fatigue or tight muscles. Individuals experiencing these types of headaches at night because if the tension that builds up throughout the day.

Usually, symptoms of tension headache are, a dull ache or squeezing sensation on both sides of your head, aching muscles in shoulders, neck, or back; pain that feels like a tight band around your head, and tightness in the jaw.

In case of tension headache, the pain lasts between 20 minutes and 2 hours.(3)

Treatments For Tension Headache:

You can take over-the-counter pain relief medicines before bed if you experience tension headaches at night before bed.

Apart from this, you can apply a warm compress to the painful area or can also take a warm bath or shower before your bedtime. This would help you relax the muscles and relieve any tension that might be resulting in tension headaches.

Cluster Headache:

A person is said to have a cluster headache if they experience multiple headaches. These headache clusters, or episodes, can occur between 1-8 times in a day and they can last between 15 minutes to 3 hours.(4) These types of headaches are one of the most painful types of headaches. They are common during the night and can make people wake up 1-2 hours after their sleep.

Some of the symptoms of such type of headache include severe stabbing pain on a single side of your head, including temple area and the eye; red and watery eyes, runny nose, restlessness, and agitation; sweating on the side of the head where there occurs the headache, and a headache that abruptly stops.

Though the causes of cluster headaches are not sure, yet, it might be possible that genetics might play an important part. Cluster headaches generally occur in individuals who are above 20 years of age.(5) Males and those who heavily smoke are most likely to experience cluster headaches. Some of the factors that might trigger cluster headaches are intake of alcohol, strong smells like paint fumes, overheating and exercise.

Treatments For Cluster Headache:

Although there is no cure for cluster headaches now, there are some treatment options that you can try to relieve the pain. As cluster headaches produce intense pain rapidly, make pain relief medicines are not effective enough in getting you relief from the pain of cluster headaches.

As per the Migraine Trust, effective pain relief treatment for people suffering from cluster headaches include the following.(5)

High Flow Of Oxygen:

Patients with cluster headaches can take in extra oxygen via a cylinder and face mask. Inhaling oxygen at a rate of 7-12 liters every minute might help in delaying or stopping a headache episode. This might take 15-20 minutes for treating cluster headaches.


Those with cluster headaches can take this medication as an injection, and this might help them get relief from pain in 10 minutes during an episode of cluster headache. People can even take this medication as a nasal spray or in a tablet form. However, these forms can be slower at treating the pain in cluster headaches.

Zolmitriptan Nasal Spray:

This might help treat the cluster headaches in some patients, but it can take a longer time to show its effects.

Preventive Treatments For Headaches At Night Before Bed:

Some of the preventive medications are verapamil, lithium, methysergide, corticosteroids, topiramate, ergotamine, and topiramate.

However, keep it noted that some of these preventive treatments can have side effects. Thus, doctors should require to monitor people while they are taking these medications.


If you are someone who is suffering from severe or frequent headaches at night before bed, then you should not delay in consulting your doctor. Your doctor will carry out specific tests for any underlying cause of your headaches and try to find out the type of headache that you might be experiencing and accordingly prescribe you with the relevant treatment options.

NOTE: Make sure you consult with your doctor if you are noticing any unusual symptoms like changes in mental state or personality, getting new headaches after the age of 50, experiencing muscle weakness or fatigue, and headaches that stop you from doing your daily activities.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 14, 2023

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