What Causes Nausea at Night?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Drinking too much alcohol may cause night nausea.
Drinking too much alcohol may cause night nausea.

The causes of night nausea are often the same as those that contribute to nausea during the day. Some of the most common causes of nighttime nausea are stress, morning sickness, medication side effects, and viral or bacterial infections. An individual may also experience night nausea because of heartburn or indigestion. In some cases, a person may also feel nauseous during the night because he has overindulged in an alcoholic beverage. Though night nausea may not be cause for alarm, a person with persistent nausea may do well to seek advice from a doctor.

During pregnancy, so-called morning sickness can also cause women to experience nausea at night.
During pregnancy, so-called morning sickness can also cause women to experience nausea at night.

Stress is one of the most common causes of night nausea. During the daytime hours, many people are too busy to notice the effects of stress and anxiety. At night, however, when things are quiet and they have an opportunity to rest, some people become overwhelmed by worries and stresses. This may not only cause a person to become nauseated, but may also make it difficult for him to sleep.

Heartburn and indigestion may lead to night nausea.
Heartburn and indigestion may lead to night nausea.

Morning sickness is another frequent cause of night nausea. Morning sickness, which is marked by nausea and vomiting, is a common symptom of early pregnancy. Many people expect morning sickness symptoms to be troublesome only in the morning, but are surprised to learn that it can affect a pregnant woman at any time of the day or night. It may even be worse at night because a woman’s stomach often feels empty at this time of day, which can contribute to feelings of queasiness.

Late night snacking can cause night nausea.
Late night snacking can cause night nausea.

Gastrointestinal illnesses that develop because of viruses and bacteria may also cause a person to experience night nausea. For example, a person who has contracted a stomach virus may experience symptoms at night. Such symptoms can develop at any time of the day or night, however. The nighttime onset of nausea may simply be related to when the person contracted the virus. If, for instance, a person has contracted a virus during the day that has an eight-hour incubation period, chances are good that he will begin to feel nauseous during the night.

Food poisoning can cause night nausea.
Food poisoning can cause night nausea.

In some cases, indigestion and heartburn may lead to nausea at night. An individual may, for example, eat something at dinner that causes him to have an upset stomach. In some cases, symptoms don’t occur right away, but may lead to nausea at some point during the night. Heartburn, which is marked by stomach acid that moves into the esophagus, may also cause nausea at night. In fact, those who go to bed within three hours of eating may be more likely to experience this cause of nausea.

Eating greasy food before bed can cause night nausea.
Eating greasy food before bed can cause night nausea.

An individual may also experience night nausea after overindulging in alcoholic beverages. In some cases, a person will begin to feel nauseous soon after drinking to excess. In other cases, however, a person may go to sleep and wake up to feelings of nausea later.

Hunger

While eating a large meal, particularly one including fatty foods, shortly before going to bed is a common cause for night nausea, going to bed hungry is also a potential cause. Not eating for an extended period results in a buildup of stomach acid, thus promoting nausea and acid reflux. Additionally, hunger pangs can be accompanied by a sensation of faintness and dizziness. Besides an empty stomach, not eating enough before bed can lead to low blood sugar, and you may wake up sweaty, shaky and dizzy.

Night nausea may be caused by dairy products.
Night nausea may be caused by dairy products.

For both of these, a common solution is to have a small snack about an hour before bed, or—if you also experience nausea related to hunger throughout the day—spreading out your daily food intake to multiple smaller meals. Adjusting your diet to get a better balance of nutrients can also help.

Side Effects of Medicine

Nausea is a side effect of many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. Some of these don't affect the GI tract, but rather neural pathways that can be associated with feelings of nausea. These include, but aren't limited to:

  • antibiotics
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and naproxene (Aleve)
  • opioid-based painkillers
  • antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • vitamin and mineral supplements
  • chemotherapy
Coffee drinkers who experience nausea at any time of the day may want to reduce their caffeine intake.
Coffee drinkers who experience nausea at any time of the day may want to reduce their caffeine intake.

If you're asking yourself, "why do I feel nauseous at night?", and you recently started taking one of these medicines shortly before bed, that's the likely culprit. Talk with your doctor about alternative options, such as adjusting dosage size and frequency or switching medications. You may also start taking your medicine with food, unless you specifically need to take it on an empty stomach.

Sinusitis and Postnasal Drip

Night nausea can prevent a person from getting proper rest.
Night nausea can prevent a person from getting proper rest.

In some cases, sinusitis can induce nausea at night or in the morning. This can happen in two ways. First, congestion in the sinuses can put pressure on the inner ears as mucus builds up and fails to drain. As the inner ears are key to the body's sense of balance, this disturbance sometimes produces a sensation of dizziness, which in turn leads to nausea and vomiting. Secondly, sinusitis causes postnasal drip as mucus accumulates in the back of your throat. When swallowed, this mucus upsets the stomach.

Because postnasal drip increases at night, coinciding with a reclined posture and less food in the stomach, nausea caused by sinusitis is more prominent before bed and after waking. Fortunately, treating sinusitis alleviates both postnasal drip and the resultant night nausea. Acute cases are managed with decongestants and saline rinses. Chronic sinusitis may require antibiotics.

Ulcers

Ulcers are painful open sores that are slow to heal or prone to recurring. They occur on most body tissues for various reasons—peptic ulcers in the GI tract are a common culprit for nausea. Other symptoms include heartburn, stomach aches, persistent feelings of fullness and an intolerance of fatty or spicy foods. Peptic ulcers can be caused by infection with H. pylori, as well as long-term use of NSAIDs. If you're experiencing these other symptoms, talk to your doctor for advice on treatment, since the solution depends on what the root cause is—antibiotic regimens and adjustment of your dosage, respectively. Acid blockers can alleviate pain from ulcers and, in combination with these other treatments, provide relief.

While treatment is minimally invasive early on, unchecked ulcers can develop into much more severe complications, such as scarring of stomach or intestinal tissue and internal bleeding, that require hospitalization and surgery to manage. If you feel nauseous when you wake up and suspect ulcers may be a cause, don't hesitate to contact a doctor.

Gasteoparesis

A gastrointestinal disease with varied, often unidentifiable causes, gasteoparesis is a condition wherein the stomach empties itself of food too slowly, allowing partially digested food and stomach acid to build up. Gasteoparesis occurs commonly in people with diabetes, as well as in a small percentage of people that have undergone stomach surgery. Associated symptoms besides nausea are heartburn, vomiting, bloating, weight loss and malnutrition. Because this can be a serious condition due to the lack of nutrient uptake that results, consult a doctor for diagnosis if you suspect you may have gasteoparesis.

The causes of night nausea, as with nausea in general, vary greatly and can range from mild conditions to potentially life-threatening ones. While over-the-counter medicine for managing nausea can stave it off enough for you to sleep, it doesn't act as treatment in itself. Additionally, oftentimes the nausea is an indicator of something else amiss. If you find yourself asking, "why do I feel nauseous when I wake up?" too often, consider your lifestyle and potential factors there, as well as any other symptoms you have that you can identify.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

anon1003063

Great posts indeed. I often get these nausea feelings very often, and mainly at night time. Very upsetting, and would like them gone forever. I will try some of the things posted here for sure. Thanks for sharing.

anon1001435

I used to have night nausea and a confused state of mind to extreme levels to the point I almost passed out. This began after I had full spectrum antibiotics for TB. This meant my intestinal flora became unbalanced and resulted in constipation. I made a huge number 2 which made me bleed. This is how it started for me.

I've managed to bring down the nausea levels to 1/10. They still occur but they are so much more bearable. They're just a slight inconvenience now.

This is how I manage it. As soon as I feel the nausea I just sit on the toilet and push, even though I feel nothing. I just push until I force some bowel movement. This will help a lot. Same with when urinating: just push until I pass gas. Last but not least, I tell myself I'm going to get nauseated no matter what, so I appeal to my subconscious to not be so nauseated. A little self hypnosis.

I remember how hellish it was and I hope this helps people with the same problem.

anon987423

After reading a lot of your comments I would suggest looking into getting your stomach checked for ulceration or acid reflux. I have suffered with this for years and recently it strikes at night. I have had to avoid alcohol and even sometimes eating because of this. Talk to your doctor about medication and get a professional diagnosis. There are ways to combat this with foods such as peppermint and ginger. These will calm the stomach, besides this gaviscon is really effective in my case. I hope this helps.

anon966100

I am 25 and I have been dealing with this for over a year now. It began on nights where I consumed alcohol and so I started to believe that I had developed some sort of allergy. But I've been having episodes without alcohol being present. These episodes go as far as vomiting and spending the night back and forth from sleep to the vomiting and sleep cycles of about 15 minutes or so. I could really use some help, my doctors haven't given me much hope. I self medicate with promethazene to force my body and mind into a state of sleep.

anon929634

I am 52 and a man and get this quite a lot.

Solutions I have tried: not eating at all less than four hours before bedtime, and even then eating lightly. I have now got to the point that if my missus and I are invited to a dinner party, I have to say to hosts, "do you mind if I don't eat?" It has gotten that bad.

I avoid any alcohol less than six hours before bed too, and definitely no beer. I always have fennel tea before bed and that also seems to help.

If the nausea feeling comes, sometimes I sit under a hot shower on my back in the bath, and also getting some mint or camomile tea down helps.

If I sit up and watch TV it feels better. I do wonder if stress has something to do with it. Certainly for me, it is often related to having a bad dream. But the trouble is I get so tired with the lack of sleep. It is nice to read I am not the only one getting this.

anon335385

My name is mujahid and I have been suffering from constant nausea for two years, but no medicine works for me and my endoscopy reports are normal. My doctor wanted to perform an MRI test but the same reports are normal. I can't understand how to get rid of my nausea. The doctor suggested I may be suffering from anxiety. Can someone please help me?

julies

I don't know if any other women have experienced this, but I have night sweats and nausea almost every night. I expected some night sweats when I started going through menopause but thought the nausea was strange.

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised by it because my whole body is changing and there are a lot of things happening that I don't understand. I am wondering if the nausea is also considered a normal symptom of menopause?

It's bad enough to have the night sweats where you are sweating one minute and freezing the next. When you add the nausea to it and you lay there with your stomach feeling queasy you start to wonder if you are getting sick, or if it's just part of all the hormonal changes.

sunshined

I have trouble sleeping and take medication before I go to bed so I can fall asleep and stay asleep. This is the only thing I have found that gives me a good night of sleep any more.

I take this about 30 minutes before bedtime and have found if I take it on an empty stomach I feel nauseated. Since I got in the habit of taking it with something like a piece of toast or a handful of nuts, I don't get the nausea. There is something about taking medication on an empty stomach that gives me nausea no matter what time of day it is.

Perdido

@lighth0se33 – Waking up at night with extreme nausea is horrible! This happens to me whenever I get a urinary tract infection.

If I've had the infection for a few days and haven't gotten any antibiotics for it yet, I start to feel nauseated. This feeling gets worse at night, particularly after I wake up from a dream.

I think the only other night nausea I've had was related to eating something too close to bedtime. However, this kind of nausea is less extreme than the kind associated with a urinary tract infection. It's more of a mild queasiness.

healthy4life

It scares me to read that night nausea and pregnancy are related! I know I'm not stressed out, and I stop eating three hours before bedtime.

I have never wanted children, so this nausea is freaking me out. It is so random, and I can't think of any other cause for it.

myharley

With both of my pregnancies I had a lot of nausea and my stomach felt queasy much of the time. I thought this would just happen in the morning, so was surprised when I also had nausea at night during my pregnancy. My doctor said it was common to have nausea any time of the day or night. Because I was pregnant I didn't want to take any medication for it so I made sure I had something in my stomach before going to bed. This didn't get rid of the nausea but it was better than not having anything in my stomach at all.

lighth0se33

It's strange, but every time I've ever had the stomach virus, it has hit me at night. I wake up with extreme nausea that is soon followed by vomiting.

It's a very unpleasant thing to wake up to. I can't sleep for the rest of the night, because I have to keep getting up to vomit.

I got gastrointestinal illnesses like this a lot as a child. Thankfully, I haven't had one in many years. I hope my nights of waking up to nausea are far behind me.

andee

@donna61 -- You might also try elevating the head of your bed 6-8 inches. This is something my chiropractor recommended I try after complaining of heartburn and nausea at night. If you can't elevate the whole bed, he might try sleeping with more than one pillow so his head is elevated.

I tried this and it has seemed to help quite a bit. The heartburn is not as bad and the nausea has gone away completely. At first I really didn't think it would make much difference, but it was a simple and cheap thing to try.

giddion

@donna61 – One thing that has always helped ease my nausea during the night is peppermint. In just about any form, it soothes the stomach.

Probably the most potent form is peppermint hard candy. I suck on one of these and my nausea subsides when I'm less than halfway through with it.

If the thought of consuming sugar makes your husband even more nauseous, he should try peppermint tea. It isn't sweetened, and it has a strong peppermint flavor that combats nausea.

Even if all you have in your house is sugar-free peppermint gum, give it a try. Even this has helped curb my nausea at times.

anon283490

To the original poster: Does this pillow help to keep your head from turning side to side? Does turning your head increase your nausea? If so, have your ears checked. These are classic sign of meniere's (min-yaires) disease. Are you diabetic or smoke? Check to see if you have delayed gastric emptying. Hope this helps.

anon266051

I get really bad nausea at night and the doctors cannot find anything wrong with me. The anti-nausea tablets stopped working and I have to sleep sitting up with a "cuddle buddy" (a beanbag type pillow) to keep my neck from being sore the next day. Some nights (very rarely) I am able to lay straight down and sleep but its so rare that I often think that's a dream.

But I also need noise to sleep, because otherwise all I can think of is the sick feeling. Any ideas as to what I might be suffering from or what can ease it? My partner is getting sick of the TV being on.

flowerchild

@donna61--Good timing, I just learned about this in my herbology class! There are a lot of herbal teas that you can either buy or make yourself to help with heartburn and the related night nausea.

Some of the teas are ginger, chamomile, marshmallow root, and cinnamon. These teas are yummy and pretty easy to make.

You need to heat until you get a light boil, simmer for a few minutes, strain and then drink!

You can also get it ready to heat at either your local organic grocer or homeopathy store.

The other thing he can try is eating fewer but smaller meals. Oh, and eat earlier, like six at the latest so he has time to start digesting before he goes to bed.

I hope this information will help.

donna61

My husband suffers from heartburn and nausea at night. Does anyone have any ideas for home remedies that might help him with this? I don't want to take him back to the doctor if I don't have to, he is already taking something for the heartburn. Thanks!

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    • Drinking too much alcohol may cause night nausea.
      By: graja
      Drinking too much alcohol may cause night nausea.
    • During pregnancy, so-called morning sickness can also cause women to experience nausea at night.
      By: Alliance
      During pregnancy, so-called morning sickness can also cause women to experience nausea at night.
    • Heartburn and indigestion may lead to night nausea.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Heartburn and indigestion may lead to night nausea.
    • Late night snacking can cause night nausea.
      By: inesbazdar
      Late night snacking can cause night nausea.
    • Food poisoning can cause night nausea.
      By: lightwavemedia
      Food poisoning can cause night nausea.
    • Eating greasy food before bed can cause night nausea.
      By: stocksolutions
      Eating greasy food before bed can cause night nausea.
    • Night nausea may be caused by dairy products.
      By: Anna Bobrowska
      Night nausea may be caused by dairy products.
    • Coffee drinkers who experience nausea at any time of the day may want to reduce their caffeine intake.
      By: volff
      Coffee drinkers who experience nausea at any time of the day may want to reduce their caffeine intake.
    • Night nausea can prevent a person from getting proper rest.
      By: ChenPG
      Night nausea can prevent a person from getting proper rest.