Woke Up Dizzy? Here's What Your Body's Trying to Tell You

Dehydration is a common cause of dizziness in the morning.
Image Credit: Doucefleur/iStock/GettyImages

Did you wake up dizzy this morning? If you find yourself feeling faint, woozy or lightheaded at first light, you might be wondering whether you should be worried.

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While occasional morning dizziness is NBD, feeling faint frequently could indicate an underlying medical condition.

Here, Pauline Jose, MD, a family medicine specialist and medical education director at pH Labs, discusses the most common causes of morning dizziness.

Tip

If you’re experiencing recurrent dizziness, see a doctor, who can properly assess your situation and help you address any underlying health issues.

1. You’re Dehydrated

You might be waking up with the spins because your body needs more water. When you don't get enough fluids, the volume of your blood decreases and your blood pressure dips, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The result: Your brain doesn't get enough blood, and you feel dizzy.

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Dehydration — and morning lightheadedness — is especially common after a long night of drinking alcohol, Dr. Jose says. (Hello, hangover.)

Fix it:​ To decrease dehydration-induced dizziness, you'll need to replenish fluids, so drink lots of water to stay hydrated, Dr. Jose says. And to prevent this problem in the future, drink in moderation and try alternating each alcoholic beverage with a glass of H2O.

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How Much Water Should You Drink?

Use this equation to determine how much water you should drink every day:

Body weight (in pounds) ​÷ 2 = minimum ounces of water you should drink per day

2. You Have Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar levels (also known as hypoglycemia) may lead to dizziness in the morning, Dr. Jose says.

When you don't have enough glucose (which is your body's main source of fuel), your systems slow down to protect themselves, including your brain, per Harvard Health Publishing. That's why you might wake up dizzy or even slightly confused.

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Per the Mayo Clinic, other symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • An irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Tingling or numbness of the lips, tongue or cheek

Fix it:​ If it's an isolated incident, you may only need to eat or drink something sweet like a glass of orange juice to resolve the issue.

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But low blood sugar is also commonly related to medical conditions such as diabetes, Dr. Jose says. So if this happens often and you suspect you have hypoglycemia, it's best to see your doctor who can check your blood sugar levels to get a fuller picture of the problem.

3. You’re Taking Certain Medications

If you woke up dizzy and off-balance, it might be the side effect of some medications. For example, a hypertension medicine may drop your blood pressure too low, causing wooziness, Dr. Jose says.

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In addition, diuretics can contribute to dehydration, which, as we already know, may bring on dizziness, per Harvard Health Publishing.

Fix it​: If you think your medicine is making you dizzy, speak with your doctor, who may be able to adjust your dosage or prescribe a different drug.

4. You Have Vertigo

If you woke up with the sensation that the room is spinning, you might be experiencing vertigo, which is often caused by an inner ear problem, Dr. Jose says.

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"The semi-circular canals in the inner ear have fluids that move when our heads move, and sometimes formation of stones (called otoliths) disrupt the flow of the fluid," Dr. Jose says. And this disruption leads to dizziness.

Fix it:​ To resolve vertigo, visit your doctor, who may choose to perform a procedure (such as shifting the otolith in your inner ear), Dr. Jose says.

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If your vertigo problem is chronic, your doctor may also assess you for other underlying medical conditions such as Meniere's disease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes dizziness and hearing loss, she says.

5. You Got Out of Bed Too Quickly

When you hop out of bed too fast, you may notice your head feels a bit fuzzy. Indeed, a sudden rise from a supine to an upright position can make the room spin, Dr. Jose says.

This is often caused by orthostatic hypotension, an abrupt drop in blood pressure that can occur when one stands up, Dr. Jose says. This issue becomes more common as we age, she adds.

Fix it​: Take your time. Gradually getting out of bed will help your body adjust to the change in position and remain steady, Dr. Jose says. This is especially important for older people, as dizziness can increase the risk of falls.

6. You’re Pregnant

Woke up dizzy and nauseous? Feeling lightheaded in the a.m. might be a byproduct of a bun in the oven. Yep, morning sickness and dizziness go hand in hand.

Wooziness is a common symptom in early pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations and elevated blood volume, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Fix it:​ Fortunately, pregnancy-related morning dizziness is only temporary. But in the meantime, Dr. Jose recommends being careful when you get out of bed. Again, moving slowly and avoiding sudden shifts in position can help prevent the rapid dip in blood pressure that contributes to lightheadedness.

Tip

Lying down on your side — not your back — may also help ease dizziness during your second trimester of pregnancy, per the Mayo Clinic.

7. You Have Sleep Apnea

While sleep apnea is most often associated with symptoms like snoring, many people with this condition — characterized by abnormal or disrupted breathing during sleep — also report feelings of dizziness in the mornings, Dr. Jose says.

People with sleep apnea may have difficulty breathing or will gasp for air during slumber, which can lower the oxygen level in the blood. And when your brain lacks oxygen during the night, you might wake up feeling woozy, Dr. Jose says.

Per the Mayo Clinic, other signs of sleep apnea include:

Fix it​: If you're experiencing morning dizziness along with other sleep apnea symptoms, speak with your doctor, who can perform a proper evaluation and refer you to a sleep specialist if needed.

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references

Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.