Do you ever wake up feeling dizzy in the morning? Not everyone can be a morning person: bright, bubbly and bursting with so much energy! Most of us wake up feeling like we carried the weight of the world overnight. No energy, woozy and irritable. This goes away after some time, especially after having a cup of coffee for me or a cup of whatever beverage you like in the morning for you.
This, however, is not what am talking about. Am talking about waking up feeling dizzy, lightheaded and with a headache on most mornings. This should be taken seriously especially if it persists or is accompanied by falling episodes, poor memory, confusion, depression, irritability and not recognizing people or places.
Dizziness is lightheadedness that makes one feel like they will faint or fall. It often lasts just for a short time and resolves in minutes. This type of dizziness may not be a problem. However, if the cases are recurrent, then you need to see a doctor.
What causes dizziness in the morning?
Some of the causes of dizziness include low levels of oxygen (hypoxemia), low levels of blood pressure (hypotension) and low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia). These factors either affect the brain directly or indirectly. The brain cells require optimal quantities of oxygen and blood glucose. Blood pressure ensures that the brain cells have a steady flow of oxygen and glucose.
Another cause of dizziness on waking up is inner ear disturbances. The inner ear ensures balance and helps send signals back to the brain.
In other cases, morning dizziness may be due to mental health conditions including depression and anxiety. There are also unknown conditions (idiopathic) but most of the cases are due to substance use or abuse.
Abnormal blood oxygen levels
Some of the conditions that may make you wake up dizzy in the morning due to low blood oxygen levels include:
This is an iron deficiency condition where blood has abnormal red blood cells, or they are very few due to low hemoglobin levels. This impairs their ability to carry oxygen. This may be accompanied by a reduction in respiratory rate and heart rate during sleep.
b). Sleep Apnea
People that have obstructive sleep apnea have low blood oxygen levels in the morning since breathing momentarily stops while they sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, for example, is caused by the collapse of the throat tissue while sleeping, causing blockage of the airway.
c). Lung Diseases
These mostly happen when the lungs fail to function optimally. This makes it hard for proper gas exchange between the environment and blood. One of these diseases is the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Abnormal blood glucose levels
Dizzy spells in the morning can be due to several conditions caused by low blood glucose including:
a). Diabetes Mellitus
Those with diabetes type 1 and 2 mellitus can have problems due to abnormalities in glucose level caused by natural changes in hormonal levels. This is referred to as the dawn phenomenon. It describes the cyclical changes that happen to hormonal levels between the hours of 3.am and 8. Am. They make the blood sugar levels to significantly increase. Poor management of the condition can also cause a phenomenon called the Somogyi effect. This results in low levels of blood glucose which then subsequently rise.
In this condition, blood glucose levels fall below what should be the normal range. It occurs in people whose blood glucose levels cannot be controlled normally. It can also be caused by shock, certain drugs and extreme fasting.
Abnormal levels of blood pressure
Unregulated levels of blood pressure could be another reason you wake up dizzy in the morning. Some of the conditions associated with these include:
This is caused by different reasons including anemia, heart failure, blood loss, hormone imbalances, pregnancy, dehydration, among others. Dizziness in the morning due to hypotension occurs because the heart rate and pressure are low while sleeping. Orthostatic hypotension refers to the condition where the body is unable to maintain adequate blood pressure when one stands up straight from lying flat or sitting down.
b). Heart Failure
Dizziness in the morning can be due to a portion of the heart tissue getting damaged. This makes it unable to pump blood efficiently causing a disturbance in the blood flow. This becomes worse when one stands up suddenly from a sleeping or sitting position. Some of these heart diseases include:
- Heart attacks
- Cardiac failure
- Supraventricular tachycardia
- Aortic stenosis or heart valve disease
- Pulmonary hypertension.
This is when blood pressure gets uncharacteristically high. If it happens in the morning, then you will get dizzy if you try to stand up from the sleeping position. This can be taken care off through pills.
Inner ear disease
The inner ear has organs that help the body maintain balance. If these organs get infected or diseased, then one experiences dizziness. These organs must perform optimally at all times and especially when standing or walking for balance purposes. Failure to do so will lead to dizzy spells and falls. Some of the conditions that can cause lack of balance include the Meniere’s disease, the labyrinthitis disease, and middle ear infections.
Sometimes the signal processing part of the brain from the semicircular canal may also cause dizziness even when the semicircular canals are healthy and fully functional.
Substance use and abuse
Pharmaceutical drugs, illicit substances, and alcohol can cause early morning dizziness. For example, using sleeping pills, drinking excessive alcohol before sleeping and using or inhaling illicit substances like gas leaks or air pollution. Dizziness can also be a withdrawal symptom for addicts.
Dizziness caused by substance use or abuse, whether inhaled, injected or oral, is accompanied by symptoms like confusion, blurred vision, and nausea.
Other reasons you may be waking up dizzy in the morning include:
- Liver disease
- Poisoning from carbon monoxide, cyanide, aspirin, arsenic etc.
- Psychiatric conditions including depression, grief, anxiety, psychological stress
- Infections including encephalitis, meningitis, sinusitis
- Migraines and headaches
How to avoid dizzy spells in the morning
- Immediately you open your eyes in the morning, sit on the edge of your bed first instead of standing up immediately. This will prevent a drop-in blood pressure that happens when you stand up too quickly.
- Get enough sleep at night to prevent fatigue that could lead to dizziness.
- Keep hydrated always. You can make sure you are hydrated in the morning by having a cup of water by your bed to drink immediately you wake up.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco because they affect blood circulation. Consume them in moderation if you must.
- Chew on fresh ginger, take a ginger supplement or drink ginger tea to combat nausea and dizziness.
- Use Ginkgo, a herb that boosts circulation and helps prevent dizziness. It helps by correcting inner ear imbalances.
- Take iron supplements.
If you persistently get dizzy after waking up, visit a doctor. Do not stop taking prescription drugs if they cause dizziness in the morning. Inform your doctor so that they can change your medication.