Waking up in the morning and feeling like you will throw up any minute could be very frustrating, especially when you are not sure what is causing these sensations. If your nausea is not a sign of some underlying medical condition, pregnancy, or anxiety, it is unlikely that it is something to worry about in the long run. Symptoms of nausea can be controlled by consulting your doctor, making some lifestyle and diet changes, and keeping an eye on your activities before you hit the bed. Schedule an appointment with the experienced and board-certified gastroenterologists at the Manhattan Gastroenterology to learn about the possible causes of nausea and what may be causing your symptoms. The top gastro doctors in NYC are highly-skilled experts in preventing, diagnosing, and treating all types of digestive disorders and ensure you are back to feeling normal within no time.

Feeling sick in the morning is an unpleasant experience and does not make you relish getting out of bed. The sensation that you might throw up is called nausea, and it is often accompanied by other symptoms, including abdominal cramping or pain, sweating, and diarrhea.

What Is Nausea?

Why do I wake up feeling Nauseous?

Nausea can be described as the desire to vomit or an uncomfortable feeling that you get before vomiting. Heaviness, tightness, and a persistent feeling of indigestion are the most commonly experienced symptoms of nausea.

Nausea is not always associated with a serious illness. Feeling sick in the morning, with or without vomiting, could also be a key sign of pregnancy. It could also result from taking medications on an empty stomach, eating too much or too little, drinking too much alcohol, or jerky movements from being in a car or plane. Sometimes persistent or recurring nausea could also be a sign of some underlying medical issue that should be checked by a doctor.

What Does Nausea Feel Like?

Feeling sick to your stomach is the main sign of nausea. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Giddiness
  • Sweating
  • Accumulation of saliva in the mouth
  • Urge to vomit
  • Retching

If you wake up nauseous, it could be anything from your nighttime eating habits to stress levels or medications. Read on to learn why you feel the urge to throw up after getting out of bed to understand the possible causes of morning nausea and fix your symptoms.

Causes of morning nausea

The most common causes of waking up in the morning feeling nauseated include:


It is the most known reason for nausea, with or without vomiting, in women first thing in the morning. Women begin to experience nausea around the sixth week of their pregnancy. Even though it is believed to occur in the morning, the annoying symptoms are not limited to the mornings. Some women continue to experience them throughout the day. The good news is that you may start feeling better later in the pregnancy.

Low Blood Sugar

Low levels of sugar in the body, medically known as low blood sugar, can also result in feelings of weakness, dizziness, and nausea. It usually happens if 12 hours or more have passed since you had eaten dinner. A low level of glucose in the blood can result in various symptoms that include nausea, shaking, confusion, and even fainting if you do not eat something soon.

People with diabetes may develop low blood sugar due to the medications they have to take. Delaying or skipping breakfast can worsen this feeling. Eating a meal immediately after waking up can help prevent the queasy feeling first thing in the morning. Paying attention to your eating habits and hunger levels can play a significant role in managing low blood sugar levels and keeping away sickness in the morning.

Sleep Disorders

Feeling nauseous in the morning has been linked to sleep issues too, especially if you have tossed and turned all night or did not have a night of normal sleep. Not getting sufficient sleep can disturb the body’s circadian rhythms or the body clock, which is linked to several disorders and problems, including Alzheimer’s, weight gain, and mental health concerns.

Jet lag, insomnia, and many other factors have also been associated with a disruption in the sleep cycle. They change the regular sleep pattern and shift the body’s neuroendocrine response, causing nausea.

Acid Reflux

Also known as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disorder, acid reflux is a common cause of nausea in the morning. It leads to an acid build-up in the stomach which may flow to the upper region of the esophagus as you have been in relining position all night.

Acid reflux usually occurs when the opening to the stomach does not close correctly after eating. The acids from the stomach can make their way to the esophagus and throat. It can cause coughing, burping, and a sour taste, which results in nausea-like feelings. Nausea related to acid reflux can occur any time, but people who sleep fully flat are at an increased risk. Making lifestyle adjustments such as avoiding acidic meals, not eating for at least two hours before going to bed, and keeping your head end elevated during sleep can help.

Congestion and Postnasal Drip

Congestion in the sinuses can put pressure on the inner ears, which can cause an upset stomach and nausea. In some cases, pressure on the inner ears can also lead to dizziness which is often associated with nausea and vomiting. Postnasal drip can make the mucous from the sinuses to drain into the throat and the stomach. This usually happens when you sit in a reclining position for long, especially in the morning.


Everyone responds to anxiety and stress differently. Many people experience excitement and stress, as well as anxiety in their gut which results in various symptoms like upset stomach, indigestion, and feelings of nausea. An upcoming exciting or stressful event can lead to sickness in the morning. In some cases, ongoing anxiety affects the body, and it can cause frequent bouts of nausea from time to time.


Intake of too much alcohol in the evening can make you feel nauseous the next morning. Not only this, but after effects of excessive alcohol usage can also lead to harmful conditions, such as dehydration and low blood sugar level.


It is a relatively serious condition that occurs when the muscles in the stomach wall stop moving or slow down. This problem with the stomach muscles can prevent the food from moving from the stomach to the intestine. Nausea and vomiting, early in the morning as well as during the day, are common symptoms of this condition. If your nausea does not seem to be getting better with lifestyle modifications and changes in diet, seek medical attention before it turns bad.


Gallstones are hard, pebble-like pieces that form in the gallbladder when substances such as cholesterol harden. If these gallstones get stuck in the bile duct that connects the gallbladder and the intestine, it can result in intense pain and inflammation. Nausea and vomiting are the most commonly experienced symptoms of gallstones.


Opioids are medications that are prescribed to help with intense and chronic pain. Nausea and vomiting are well-known side effects of opioids.


Cancer treatment such as chemotherapy can result in nausea and vomiting. The drug is known to activate the part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting, which leads to uneasiness in the stomach, and creates an urge to throw up. Sometimes the drug also affects cells in the lining of your stomach and induces these symptoms.

The symptoms can be mild or severe depending on the dosage and duration of chemotherapy.

Concussion or Brain Injury

Concussion or brain injury can cause swelling in the brain. This increases the pressure on the skull that can activate the part of the brain responsible for regulating nausea and vomiting. Vomiting or queasiness after experiencing head trauma is a sign that your head injury is serious, and you must seek immediate medical attention to prevent any complications.

Food Poisoning

Eating or drinking anything contaminated makes the body work harder to get rid of it as soon as possible. If you have food poisoning, you will experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea along with abdominal cramps or upset stomach as a part of the body’s effort to eliminate the harmful element from the body.

If you are experiencing nausea with abdominal pain and diarrhea in the morning, chances are it is the outcome of food poisoning from something that you ate last night.

Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcers are sores that affect the inner lining of the stomach and intestines. They cause stomach pain but can also result in nausea and vomiting.

These ulcers can block the passage of food through the digestive tract. It makes you feel queasy, throw up the food you have consumed, and lose weight either through swelling from inflammation or scarring.


When your colon is filled with digested or waste matter, it can slow down the gastrointestinal system. This is known as constipation and often leads to nausea, sometimes in the morning.

A build-up of stool in the intestines can make the food linger in the stomach and increase feelings of nausea or bloating. Deposits of stool can also cause an imbalance in your gut bacteria, which may cause nausea.

Motion Sickness

Some people are sensitive to particular movements or motions that can make them feel nauseated. Motion sickness occurs when your brain gets mixed signals about your moves. When you ride in a car, the eyes and ears tell the brain that you are moving, but the area in the inner ear, concerned with balance and muscles, tells the brain that you are not moving.

These mixed signals result in feelings of nausea and vomiting. Eating food before or after experiencing motion can intensify nausea in people with this problem.

Inner Ear Infection

The inner ear area is very delicate and plays a significant part in maintaining the balance of the body. Infection in this area can disrupt balance and stomach rhythm and lead to dizziness and nausea. This infection is usually triggered by a virus, such as a cold or flu, or in rare instances, a bacterial presence.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when blood sugar levels become very high, and the levels of ketones rise dangerously in the blood. As ketones accumulate in the blood, more ketones will be passed in the urine, taking sodium and potassium salts out with them, resulting in a dehydration-like condition as the body becomes depleted of the necessary minerals.

Severe nausea, thirst, and confusion are some of the most common symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis. It is a life-threatening condition and considered a medical emergency.

It is important to note that the list of conditions that give rise to nausea is extensive, but it is not complete. If your symptoms seem to be deteriorating and you cannot determine their sources, seek immediate medical attention.

Nausea and Vomiting – Are They the Same?

Nausea and vomiting are not diseases. They are symptoms of many different conditions, such as infections, illnesses, concussion or brain injury, appendicitis, and migraines. The timing of nausea or vomiting can indicate what may be wrong with you.

Vomiting is the forcible voluntary or involuntary evacuation or throwing up of stomach contents through the mouth. Nausea frequently precedes the urge to vomit, but it does not always result in vomiting. Infection and damage to the stomach lining and intestines, food irritation, inner ear infection, and brain injury can result in dizziness and motion sickness, which are potential causes of vomiting.

When to See a Doctor About Morning Nausea

Waking up to the unpleasant feeling of nausea and an urge to throw up is not only unpleasant but also disrupts your everyday activities. It may not be a cause of concern initially, but ongoing and severe nausea could be a sign of a serious condition that must be checked by a doctor. Keeping a record of the exact times of nausea and food consumed can help the specialist accurately diagnose your ailment.

If your nausea fails to subside after five days or is accompanied by symptoms like abdominal cramping, heartburn, diarrhea, bloating or gas, body ache, or fever, visit your healthcare provider.

Consult experienced and board-certified GI specialists to receive personalized care regarding your symptoms. The award-winning gastroenterologists aim to identify the reasons behind your morning nausea, analyze your discomfort and come up with the best treatment options and remedies to help you feel better. Manhattan Gastroenterology is one of New York’s top-rated gastroenterology practices that uses the most advanced diagnostic equipment and medical research to diagnose your condition and provide effective solutions for long-term wellbeing. You can look forward to getting up in the mornings, all fresh and active to enjoy your day without any trace of nausea or sickness.

Updated on Sep 1, 2023 by Dr. Shawn Khodadadian (Gastroenterologist) of Manhattan Gastroenterology