Waking Up Dizzy: 9 Causes of Morning Dizziness Explained

    Waking Up Dizzy: 9 Causes of Morning Dizziness Explained
    Updated 13 August 2021 |
    Published 29 July 2020
    Fact Checked
    Olga Adereyko, MD
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
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    Do you feel dizzy in the morning? There are a few reasons why you may feel dizzy when waking up or light-headed after sleeping. If you’re wondering why you wake up dizzy, then keep reading for more information about the causes of dizziness in the morning and ways to manage the condition.

    What does waking up dizzy feel like?

    Dizziness in the morning isn’t an illness or a condition in and of itself. It could be a symptom of an underlying condition or illness. The dizziness may feel like the room is spinning or moving around you. This condition is referred to as vertigo. Many people wake up dizzy at one point or another. Occasionally feeling dizzy when you stand up after waking or after sitting for a long time is normal.

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    Experiencing morning dizziness on a regular basis isn’t normal, though, and could mean that you have a serious illness. People who experience chronic dizziness in the morning often describe their symptoms as feeling like one or more of the following:

    • A sense of motion or spinning
    • Feeling faint or light-headed
    • Loss of balance
    • Unsteadiness
    • Feeling woozy or like you’re floating 

    These morning dizziness symptoms may be worse when you walk, stand up, or move your head around. When you wake up dizzy, you may also experience nausea. If this happens to you, be careful making your way to the bathroom. Morning dizziness episodes may last just a few seconds or most of the day. You might have dizzy episodes throughout your day, not just when you wake up.

    Causes of waking up dizzy

    Many factors can result in waking up dizzy, such as inner ear disturbances and side effects of diabetes or other illnesses.

    • Sometimes the change in balance when you shift your body position from lying down to standing up can cause morning dizziness.
    • Certain kinds of medications have a side effect of dizziness. Talk to your health care provider about what to expect from new prescriptions.
    • Other conditions that can lead to feeling dizzy when waking up include sleep disturbances, especially insomnia. Chronic insomnia can lead to other physical and psychological problems and exacerbate mental illnesses. Dizziness and sleep disturbances are often linked. People who experience anxiety and depression often have trouble sleeping as a result of their illness. 
    • Sleep apnea is another reason you might feel dizzy in the morning. Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing in your sleep and then wake up gasping for breath. This might happen throughout the night, affecting the quality of your sleep. Sleep apnea is often a result of obesity, although some people are genetically predisposed to sleep apnea. If your health care provider suspects this is the case, they may refer you to a sleep study where technicians will monitor your breathing to diagnose the condition. People with sleep apnea often find relief by using a machine that helps them breathe normally while sleeping. 
    • Dehydration is another cause of morning dizziness. This can happen after a long night of drinking or as a result of a condition such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). You may also experience dehydration if you work in a hot environment, sweat a lot, or don’t get enough to drink throughout the day. To reduce morning dizziness due to dehydration, be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if you're drinking alcohol. 
    • Low blood sugar when you wake up can also lead to morning dizziness. If you’re diabetic or take certain medications that cause a drop in blood sugar, you could be dizzy in the morning before you eat. Diabetes-caused hypoglycemia can happen if your medication is out of balance or if you didn’t eat enough the night before. If this is why you’re waking up dizzy, it can usually be fixed by eating a meal that breaks down quickly to boost your blood sugar. You can be hypoglycemic without being diabetic. If you get light-headed between meals, talk to your health care provider and get tested for the condition.
    • An inner ear infection called labyrinthitis can affect your balance and make you feel dizzy when waking up in the morning. Common symptoms include feeling unsteady or off-balance, making it difficult to stay upright or walk properly. You may experience hearing loss or ringing in your ears or feel sick or nauseous. A health care provider will be able to diagnose this condition and prescribe antibiotics. 
    • Changes in hormone levels during perimenopause and menopausal transition can also cause morning dizziness. Morning dizziness is a fairly common menopause symptom that usually goes away after menopause is complete. Many people feel discomfort and anxiety in addition to the dizziness and mood swings that accompany menopause.
    • Pregnancy can cause you to wake up dizzy, too, partly due to the changes in your hormone levels. Some people who are pregnant have a hard time eating due to nausea or morning sickness, which can lead to hypoglycemia. If you’re experiencing dizziness during your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider. Feeling unsteady on your feet when you’re carrying a baby can be dangerous for you both, especially if your morning dizziness makes it difficult to walk.

    What can you do about waking up dizzy?

    Health care providers recommend a few things to try to prevent waking up dizzy:

    • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water (at least 64 ounces) per day.
    • Exercise regularly. If you experience morning dizziness, you may not want to wake up and immediately hit the gym. Make sure to eat before you exercise to reduce the chances of becoming dizzy during your workout.
    • Avoid skipping meals. If you have hypoglycemia, consider eating several small meals or snacks throughout the day instead of three larger ones. Talk with your health care provider first before changing your diet.
    • Avoid abrupt changes in position, like standing up suddenly or remaining seated for too long. Get up throughout the day and walk around.

    Other unhealthy habits can contribute to frequent dizziness, including excessive drinking,  smoking, and using street drugs. This may include nicotine vaping as well.

    When to see a health care provider about waking up dizzy

    Waking up dizzy could be a harmless symptom or an indication of something serious, so it’s important to see a health care provider if you’re experiencing dizziness on a regular basis. If morning dizziness also comes with double vision, vomiting, and difficulty coordinating your arm and leg movements, seek immediate medical attention, especially if you’ve sustained a fall or head injury.

    If your dizziness is accompanied by a rapid heart rate, chest pain, or a severe headache, seek immediate medical attention. Make sure you tell the health care provider about any medication you’re taking, including insulin.

    Wrapping up on waking up dizzy

    If you’ve been wondering why you’re waking up dizzy, there are several potential answers. It could be a side effect of medication or an indication that you have a serious medical condition. If you’re diabetic, you can reduce your morning dizziness by properly managing your medication and eating schedule. If you experience chronic light-headedness, it’s important to see a health care provider.

    History of updates

    Current version (13 August 2021)
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
    Published (29 July 2020)

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