Medically reviewed by Daniel Combs, MD
There are various causes for waking up dizzy. Often, this doesn’t indicate anything serious, especially if the dizziness is mild and resolves quickly. You might be dehydrated or prone to low blood pressure. However, morning dizziness can also be a sign of many other medical conditions, some more serious than others.
This article discusses the common causes of morning dizziness, potential solutions, and emergency warning signs associated with waking up dizzy.
What Is Dizziness?
“Being dizzy” can mean different things. These terms aren’t precise, and sometimes it’s hard to describe how you feel. Here are some symptoms that fall under the category of “dizziness.”
Disequilibrium: Feeling like you can’t get your balance or coordinate your movements as well as usual
Vertigo: Feeling like the world is spinning around you or like you are spinning while the world stands still
Sometimes, you might feel dizzy in certain psychological situations, like if you are experiencing a lot of stress or anxiety or if you are in a lot of pain.
What Causes Morning Dizziness?
Anything that restricts blood or blood glucose circulation can cause temporary light-headedness. Problems with the inner ear can often lead to vertigo, whereas problems with the nervous system might cause different types of dizziness.
The following discusses some of the more common and important causes of waking up dizzy, though other causes are possible.
Dehydration can cause morning dizziness in some people. Dry lips and a decreased urge to pee upon waking may indicate dehydration.
When you don’t drink enough fluids, a smaller volume of blood circulates throughout your body. This lowers the circulation to your brain, which can cause dizziness in some people. Dehydration can also sometimes lead to abnormalities in your electrolytes (charged particles in your blood), which can also sometimes cause dizziness.
Low Blood Pressure
Dehydration may be more of a problem if you already have relatively low blood pressure. Having lower blood pressure is generally a good thing (it reduces your chances of heart disease).
However, dehydration lowers blood pressure even more. People with generally lower blood pressure may be more prone to dizziness if they get dehydrated, especially if their resting blood pressure reading is around 90/60 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or below.
Your blood pressure might drop slightly when you stand up suddenly, as blood pools in the legs. But the body quickly responds, so you don’t notice anything. People with orthostatic hypotension have a slower bodily response and might feel light-headed or faint upon standing. Dehydration can worsen orthostatic hypotension.
Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar (low blood glucose or hypoglycemia) can cause dizziness in the morning. People with diabetes may wake up feeling dizzy due to low blood sugar caused by one or more behaviors, such as the following, before going to sleep:
Taking too much insulin
Exercising more than usual
Not eating enough carbohydrates
If you have diabetes and experience dizziness upon waking, check your blood glucose levels. If the level is between 55 and 69 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), have 15 grams (g) of carbs (e.g., a half cup of juice) and then recheck your blood glucose.
Alcohol and Dizziness
Alcohol can affect the inner ear and brain regions important for balance. Alcohol can also dehydrate you and cause your blood sugar to dip in the morning, particularly if you didn’t have much food to eat while you were drinking.
Vertigo From Inner Ear Problems
Different inner ear problems can also lead to symptoms of true vertigo.
BPPV: The most common cause of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Crystals can build up in the semicircular canals inside your inner ear. If these shift in the night, you might wake up feeling dizzy.
Other inner ear causes: Sometimes, inner ear infections can cause vertigo and other symptoms. These happen after you’ve had a stuffy nose and the infection spreads up the ear canal.
Meniere's disease: A less common cause of vertigo from inner ear disease is Meniere’s disease, which can cause episodes of vertigo, hearing loss, and ringing in the ear.
Having sleep apnea increases the risk of having vertigo or another kind of dizziness. Interruptions in nighttime breathing may trigger downstream changes in blood flow to the inner ear, which might lead to symptoms.
Dizziness from sleep apnea often goes away with proper treatment, such as with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. If you haven’t been diagnosed but have symptoms like loud snoring and excess daytime sleepiness, get checked out by a healthcare provider.
Abnormal heart rhythms can cause your heart not to pump as effectively as it should, causing lightheadedness. For example, this might happen temporarily in someone with a heart rhythm problem called atrial fibrillation, in which the first chamber of the heart isn’t contracting efficiently.
People who have heart failure, in which the heart can’t pump as effectively as it should overall, are often prone to dizziness. They may have low blood pressure, and they may be more prone to heart rhythm problems. Certain medications often used to treat heart failure may also increase the risk of dizziness.
Dizziness and Heart Attacks
Various medications can cause dizziness. People at an increased risk of dizziness due to advanced age or a medical condition are more prone to dizziness from certain medicines. However, not everyone taking the following medications experiences this side effect:
Antibiotics, like Cipro XR (ciprofloxacin) and Eryc (erythromycin)
Medications to lower blood pressure, like Vasotec (enalapril), Avapro (irbesartan), and Norvasc (amlodipine)
Diuretics, like Lasix (furosemide) or Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide)
Pain medications like Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen)
Antidepressants like Zoloft (sertraline), Remeron (mirtazapine), and Paxil (paroxetine)
Antifungals, like Diflucan (fluconazole) or Sporanox (itraconazole)
Medications for psychosis, like Clozaril (clozapine) or Thorazine (chlorpromazine)
Drugs for Parkinson’s disease, like Parlodel (bromocriptine) and Sinemet (carbidopa-levodopa)
However, this is not a complete list. Check with your pharmacist to learn whether the medications you take cause dizziness.
Brain Causes of Dizziness
Although uncommon, these are some of the most severe potential causes of dizziness. Because some parts of your brain are essential for balance and coordinated movement, injury to specific brain regions might also cause dizziness. Examples include:
The intensity of dizziness from brain problems may not be severe, which alone can’t rule out neurological causes.
How Do You Know If Dizziness Is Serious?
Dizziness is more likely to indicate a severe underlying medical problem in older adults or people with other risk factors for stroke or heart disease. You should get checked for dizziness that doesn’t go away, frequent morning dizziness, severe dizziness, or repeated fainting.
If you have true vertigo, seek prompt medical attention. Vertigo doesn’t always indicate a severe problem, but it’s very bothersome, and treatment can help reduce your symptoms.
When to Call 911 for Dizziness
Seek immediate medical attention for dizziness along with any of the following symptoms:
A fluttery feeling in your chest, like you have an irregular or very fast heartbeat
Muscle weakness, paralysis, or loss of sensation
Unusual eye movements or sudden difficulty seeing
Sudden confusion or difficulty speaking
Sudden severe headache
How to Stop Feeling Dizzy in the Morning
Depending on the underlying cause, you may be able to take steps such as the following to feel less dizzy in the morning:
Hydrate: If you are dizzy from dehydration, make sure you are drinking enough fluids during the day. Reducing your caffeine intake can help.
Maintain your blood sugar: Adding a snack before bed may help if you are at risk of low blood sugar. Keep a snack at your bedside, and eat it if you’re feeling dizzy before getting out of bed.
Adjust medications: You may need to work with a healthcare provider to adjust your medications.
Manage underlying conditions: Taking other steps to manage an underlying condition can also help reduce dizziness upon waking, like using your CPAP mask regularly if you have sleep apnea or getting treated for BPPV.
Rise slowly: Take your time getting out of bed. This can particularly help if low blood pressure is one of the causes of your dizziness. When getting up, slowly sit and then stand, preferably while holding on to something.
Consider a vitamin D supplement: Researchers have learned that vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of BPPV. Although it’s not the only factor involved, increasing vitamin D intake may also help reduce symptoms in people with BPPV. It’s not clear whether it might help with dizziness from other causes.
If morning dizziness persists, don’t ignore it. Work with a healthcare provider to figure out how best to manage it.
Waking up dizzy can happen for various reasons, most of which are not medically serious. Dehydration, low blood pressure, and medication side effects are some of the most common causes of dizziness, as are problems with the inner ear. People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart failure, are more prone to dizziness.
Talk to a healthcare provider about your symptoms. If you experience chest pain, muscle weakness, or sudden numbness alongside dizziness get immediate medical attention.
Read the original article on Verywell Health.