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

Take your time before getting out of bed to help avoid morning dizziness.
Image Credit: Doucefleur/iStock/GettyImages

Did you wake up dizzy this morning? If you find your bedroom spinning at first light, you might be wondering whether you should be worried.

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While occasional morning dizziness is no big deal, feeling it frequently could indicate an underlying medical condition.

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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. And keep in mind that dizziness is different from lightheadedness, which is categorized by feeling faint or woozy.

1. You Have Low Blood Sugar

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

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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.

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

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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 regulate your blood sugar.

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.

2. 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 the spins, Dr. Jose says.

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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.

3. 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.

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To resolve vertigo, visit your doctor, who may choose to try a natural remedy for vertigo like shifting the otolith in your inner ear, Dr. Jose says.

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.

4. 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.

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This is often caused by orthostatic hypotension, an abrupt drop in blood pressure that can occur when you stand 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.

5. You’re Pregnant

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

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

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

6. 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.

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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 spinning, Dr. Jose says.

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

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Fix It

Talk with your doctor about getting a sleep study and then exploring sleep apnea treatment options like losing excess weight, CPAP machines and other devices that may help you breathe easier.

7. You Have Post-COVID Dizziness

Dizziness and a sensation of imbalance have been associated with COVID-19 and long COVID, according to Sky Lakes Medical Center.

This can be caused by inflammation of the inner ear, which throws off your equilibrium. Similarly, when you get a virus, your immune system can trigger inflammation in the brain, which can change your movement and balance. This type of dizziness may bother you at any time of day, not just in the morning.

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Fix It

Talk to a doctor about treatment options for post-COVID dizziness. They may be able to suggest head and eye exercises that can help, according to Sky Lakes Medical Center.

8. You Have Migraines

If you wake up with migraines, you might feel dizziness during an attack. You may have full-blown vertigo with migraine or just a spinning sensation. This can last for minutes, hours or even the whole day, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

You may not even feel head pain during an episode, only dizziness and other migraine symptoms like blurry vision, nausea or weakness, according to the ASHA.

Fix It

Preventing migraines is the first step in avoiding migraine-related dizziness. Your doctor can prescribe medications to stop migraines. You can also keep a headache diary to track symptoms, avoiding triggers like certain foods or smells and getting regular exercise, per the ASHA.

9. You Have Anxiety

When you have anxiety, your body's fight-or-flight response gets activated. This is what causes the typical physical symptoms of anxiety such as shaking, sweating, shortness of breath and changes in vision, per the Mayo Clinic.

One of these physical symptoms is hyperventilation, which keeps you from getting enough oxygen and can result in feeling dizzy. If you wake up anxious, you may also wake up dizzy.

Fix It

Start by taking slow, deep and measured breaths. This will relax you and allow you to take in more oxygen. If you continue to have episodes of dizziness due to anxiety, reach out to your doctor, who may refer you to a therapist or offer medications that can help.

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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.

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