Why Do I Get A Headache When Lying Down?

A man is laying in his bed and holding his upper forehead.
  • There are several reasons why your head may hurt while lying down. Many different types of headaches can be triggered by the changes that happen in the body when you lie down.

  • Headache pain when lying down can sometimes be a warning sign of more serious conditions.

  • It’s important to seek immediate treatment if you have severe head pain that doesn’t respond to medication.

Reasons Why You May Get Headaches When Lying Down

You may experience headache pain when you lie down for several reasons. When you lie down, your blood pressure changes, affecting the blood flow to your brain.

A change in blood pressure can result in the pressure in your head increasing.

This increased pressure can lead to headaches and other pains, especially if you have underlying medical conditions that make your head sensitive to pressure changes.

Some headaches are milder and may pass within a few hours. A more severe headache that persists could be a sign of a serious medical problem.

Listed below are some of the different types of headaches you can get when lying down.


According to the American Migraine Foundation, more than one billion people live with migraines worldwide.

A migraine is a type of headache that feels like throbbing pain, typically on one side of the head.

You may experience a migraine when lying down because of the changes in blood flow to the head when you are in this position.

Other migraine symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

To prevent migraines, you need to know what’s causing them, and it’s often hard to find the exact trigger.

A migraine is believed to be caused by an interaction between the brain and the blood vessels in the head. Changes in the levels of certain brain chemicals can cause your blood vessels to narrow, leading to pain and other symptoms.

Typically, a migraine can last from a few hours to a few days, depending on its severity.

Treatment for a migraine differs depending from one person to the next, but many people find over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to be helpful.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are a type of headache where intense pain occurs in clusters or cycles.

People who suffer from cluster headaches can experience multiple headaches each day, often at the same time of day.

A cluster headache can last just a few minutes to over three hours.

Sometimes these are morning headaches that people experience when they wake up. Other times they are headaches that occur during the night.

A woman lays down and holds her head, clenching her face in pain.

Triggers of cluster headaches

This type of headache is usually brought on by certain behaviors, environments, or activities like:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • High altitudes
  • Sleep problems or poor sleep habits
  • High fever
  • Loud noises

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are usually the result of muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and back.

They can also be caused by chemical changes in the brain and can be triggered by stress, anxiety, poor posture, or fatigue.

You may experience a tension headache when lying down because the triggers above can get worse in this position.

For example, if you have poor posture during the day and then you lie down in a position that further strains your neck and shoulder muscles, this can cause a tension headache.

Treatments for tension headaches include OTC medications for pain relief, relaxation techniques, and physical therapy to relieve strained muscles.

Other Types of Headaches

We’ve discussed some of the most common headaches that people experience when lying down, but there are a few others to be aware of:

  • Positional headaches: People can experience headaches triggered when lying in certain sleep positions.
  • Nasal congestion: A sinus infection or sinus disease can lead to head pain when lying down as the congestion adds extra pressure to the sinus passageways.
  • Caffeine withdrawal headaches: Consuming less caffeine than you normally do can result in a headache.
  • High blood pressure headaches: People with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, are more prone to headaches.
  • Brain tumor: According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of developing a brain tumor is less than one percent. However, brain tumors can be the cause of headaches in some people.
  • A hypnic headache: This headache only occurs when a person is asleep and will typically wake the person up. Unlike morning headaches which start when you wake up, hypnic headaches occur during the night.
Key Point: What Can Trigger a Headache?
  • Teeth grinding due to stress and tension
  • Side effects from prescription drugs
  • Sleeping positions
  • Certain risk factors in your medical history, like high blood pressure
  • Your menstrual cycle
  • Birth control pills
  • Certain foods
A woman lays on her side.

How to Manage Headaches

Most headaches can be treated with OTC pain medication. However, additional treatments include:

  • Using nasal decongestants to clear sinus headaches
  • Correcting your posture as people with poor posture are more prone to headaches
  • Reducing shoulder strain by keeping your head in a neutral position without leaning your shoulders forward
  • Developing healthy sleep habits so that you can get high quality rest, which can help to prevent headaches
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated

Where Can I Learn More About the Symptoms and Treatment for Headaches?

If you are worried about recurring headaches, you can speak to one of our medical practitioners via video consultation.

Visit LifeMD to book your telehealth appointment and have your headaches medically reviewed.

Shanta Williams, APRN

Shanta is a board-certified, multi-state NP who has worked in healthcare for over 14 years. She earned her M.S. in Family Nurse Practitioning. In 2020, she was one of the first Nurse Practitioners to assist with the COVID-19 outbreak in New York.

Talk To A Doctor

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

Connect with a doctor now!

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

Feel better with LifeMD.

Your doctor is online and ready to see you.

Join LifeMD today and experience amazing healthcare, discounted labs and prescription medications... plus around-the-clock access to medical guidance.