Waking Up Feeling Nauseous During The Night? 8 Causes & 10 Tips To Help!

Last Updated on January 12, 2023 by theworldofsleepstaff

Waking up feeling nauseous in the middle of the night can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience. It can range from low-level nausea that passes quickly to full-blown vomiting. In either case, it’s essential to identify the cause to prevent future episodes – ultimately a visit to your doctor is the best idea.

There are various reasons why someone might wake up nauseous though, including dehydration, food allergies or intolerances, medications and digestive issues.

That’s why in this article, we’ll discuss some of the causes of waking up feeling nauseous in the middle of the night and provide some helpful tips to prevent it from occurring again.

Note: This content was only written as a reference, using third-party background information. It is not medical advice; as always, it is essential to research and speaks with a healthcare provider if you have questions or before taking any new supplement.


  1. Waking Up Feeling Nauseous In The Middle Of Night – How Long Does It Last?
  2. Top 11 Causes Of Nausea During The Night
  3. 10 Top Tips To Manage Nausea During the Night
  4. Recommended Aromatherapy Essential Oils For Nausea
Sleepless woman suffering from insomnia, sleep apnea or stress. Tired and exhausted lady. Headache or migraine. Awake in the middle of the night. Frustrated person with problem. Alarm clock with time.
iStock.com/Tero Vesalainen

Waking Up Feeling Nauseous In The Middle Of Night – How Long Does It Last?

Nausea, especially when it wakes you up in the middle of the night, can be a very unpleasant and unsettling experience.

The length of time nausea can vary depending on various factors such as what caused it, whether or not you’ve eaten recently and if you have any other health conditions that could affect your digestion.

If the cause of your nausea is related to something you ate, it will likely pass after a few hours. For example, eating too late at night can cause indigestion, which can lead to feelings of nausea. In this case, avoiding eating late and drinking plenty of fluids can help alleviate these symptoms.

If the nausea is more persistent, it could indicate an underlying health issue. For example, some conditions like gastritis or an ulcer can cause recurring bouts of nausea and should be checked by your doctor.

young man unable to sleep during night at bedroom - concept of suffering from insomnia, thoughtful and problems.
iStock.com/lakshmiprasad S

Top 11 Causes Of Nausea During The Night

1. Gastrointestinal Problems

Gastrointestinal issues, such as acid reflux, indigestion, nausea, and stomach pain, can cause nausea during the night.

With nausea and gastrointestinal problems, it is common to experience a burning sensation in the throat or chest, bloating gas, and vomiting.


2. Food Intolerance

Food intolerance is an adverse reaction to certain foods that can cause nausea and abdominal pain.

These reactions can occur hours after eating the food, making them more likely to affect you during the night and frequently; the cases are due to lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, or hypersensitivity to certain additives.

Most people tend to experience nausea in the evening or at night when their stomach is empty, and because there is nothing to absorb the foods that can trigger food intolerance, symptoms are more likely to appear.

3. Anxiety & Stress

It has been found that anxiety and stress can often manifest in physical symptoms such as nausea. This is because when feeling anxious or stressed, the body can react by releasing hormones and chemicals that cause nausea and an unsettled stomach.

Regarding nausea at night, emotional stress can likely cause nausea, mainly when the body relaxes before going to bed and when the most significant physical reactions will occur.

Read our previous article on tips to help you get to sleep if suffering with anxiety.

Man sitting on bed at night looking stressed

4. Motion Sickness

Motion sickness occurs when a person’s inner ear senses movement but the eyes don’t, which can lead to nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.

This nausea is triggered by car or boat rides, but it can happen during the night if a person wakes up to a sudden movement or jerking.

A specific study found that motion sickness can have so many symptoms for many people the symptoms become more severe during the night.

Remember that motion sickness can also be exacerbated by lack of sleep, which is often the case in today’s busy lifestyles.

5. Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can cause a range of digestive issues, including nausea and vomiting. In addition, although many people think that drinking alcohol helps them sleep better, it disturbs their natural sleeping patterns.

As a result, it increases the risk of waking up in the middle of the night with nausea and a headache. Also, alcohol can increase the production of stomach acid, which can lead to irritation and vomiting.

woman shows a sign of rejection of wine with her hand
iStock.com/Yana Tikhonova

6. Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones play an essential role in digestion, and when there is an imbalance due to pregnancy or other medical conditions, a person can be prone to nausea during the night.

In particular, a hormone called ghrelin regulates hunger, increasing when a person’s stomach is empty. This can cause an increase in the production of gastric juices and the feeling of nausea.

7. Eating Too Late At Night

Eating too late can cause an upset stomach and may lead to nausea during the night.

Having dinner at least two hours before bed is recommended because it allows the body time to digest food properly. However, eating a large meal also causes the body to work harder, and if there is not enough time for digestion, then nausea can occur.

Recommended: Foods To Avoid With Insomnia

young guy is smiling while eating porridge with berries in kitchen at home

8. Viral Infections

A viral infection such as the flu, common cold, or food poisoning can cause nausea, especially during nighttime, due to an empty stomach and dehydration.

Viruses also trigger inflammation in the intestines, leading to nausea and vomiting. Additionally, some viruses can cause dehydration due to diarrhoea or vomiting, which can also increase the feeling of nausea.

9. Medication

Sometimes, certain medications, such as antibiotics and chemotherapy, can cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting.

These medications alter the digestive system’s functioning, causing symptoms like abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, and nausea. Medication is also known to react differently at night due to the lack of food in the stomach.

woman with medications in hand

10. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, which can lead to sudden awakenings that can cause nausea.

In addition, some people with sleep apnea experience excessive snoring and gasping for breath, which can disturb their sleep. When this happens in the middle of the night, nausea is a common side effect.

11. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when stomach acid travels back up the oesophagus and into the throat, causing a burning sensation and nausea.

This nausea can worsen at night because lying down allows stomach acid to travel more easily into the oesophagus. As a result, it can cause discomfort and increased nausea during the night.

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10 Top Tips To Manage Nausea During the Night

1. Eat smaller meals daily and avoid large meals before bedtime.

This is quite effective for preventing nighttime nausea. However, overeating food before bed can cause indigestion and aggravate nausea symptoms.

What others tend to do, too, is to eat a snack such as crackers, toast or unsalted pretzels to help absorb stomach acid and reduce nausea.

2. Stay away from food triggers.

Avoiding certain foods can help reduce nighttime nausea since they may trigger your symptoms. Some common food triggers include foods high in fat, spicy foods, processed meats and dairy products.

3. Avoid lying down for two hours after eating.

If you have nighttime nausea, it can help you avoid lying down after eating since this can worsen the symptoms. Instead, wait at least 2 hours before going to bed after you have eaten.

Man sleeping in his bed and snoring loudly

4. Avoid drinking fluids before bed.

Drinking too many fluids before bedtime can increase nausea symptoms in some cases, so try to limit your fluid intake in the evening and stick to smaller amounts at regular intervals throughout the day instead.

5. Try relaxation techniques before bed.

Relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety levels which can, in turn, help reduce nausea symptoms. Some relaxation techniques you could try include yoga, deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation.

6. Try an over-the-counter antacid before bedtime.

Antacids are medications that can help neutralize stomach acid and reduce nausea symptoms. Talk to your doctor before taking any medication to ensure it suits you.

7. Try peppermint tea or ginger tea in the evening.

Peppermint and ginger are known for their anti-nausea properties, so drinking either a cup of peppermint tea or ginger tea in the evening can help reduce nausea symptoms.

Cup of tea with ginger root on grey wooden table

8. Put an extra pillow under your head at night.

Elevating your head slightly while you sleep can help reduce nausea as it helps keep stomach acid down and away from the oesophagus. Try putting an extra pillow under your head at night to see if it helps.

9. Try sleeping on your left side at night.

Sleeping on your left side reduces nausea because it helps keep stomach acid away from the oesophagus and can reduce heartburn symptoms. Try this to see if it affects how you feel during the night.

10. Talk to your doctor about other treatment options if necessary.

If none of the above strategies is helping to reduce your nighttime nausea, you must talk to your doctor and discuss other possible treatment options. For example, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication or recommend lifestyle modifications that can help improve your symptoms.

Follow these tips to manage nausea during the night and feel more comfortable. You can reduce your symptoms and get better sleep with the right lifestyle changes and treatment.

Shot of a woman doctor having a consultation with a patient

Recommended Aromatherapy Essential Oils for Nausea And Its Benefits

1. Peppermint essential oil: Peppermint oil has a strong aroma that can help soothe stomach discomfort and reduce nausea. It also helps relax the body, improve digestion and reduce stress levels.

2. Ginger essential oil: Ginger oil is known for its anti-nausea properties and can help relieve digestive issues such as indigestion, gas and bloating.

3. Orange essential oil: Orange oil has a sweet and soothing aroma that can help reduce nausea symptoms when inhaled or taken as a supplement. It also helps improve digestion and reduce stress levels which can further alleviate nausea symptoms.

4. Lemon essential oil: Lemon oil has a refreshing, uplifting aroma and can help balance the stomach acids to reduce nausea. It can also be used to improve digestion and stimulate appetite.

5. Lavender essential oil: Lavender oil has a calming scent that can help relax the body and reduce stress levels, alleviating nausea symptoms. It is also known for its antispasmodic and antiemetic properties, which can help reduce digestive discomforts such as cramps, bloating and vomiting.

Using aromatherapy with essential oils can help relieve nausea naturally and improve your overall wellbeing. However, to ensure optimal results, it is essential to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or speak to an aromatherapist for further advice.

Dried lavender with a bottle of essential oil isolated on white background.
iStock.com/Anna Kim


Why do I get nauseous at night when I lie down?

Nausea at night can be caused by many factors, such as stress or anxiety, eating too close to bedtime, medication side effects, food allergies or intolerances, gastric reflux disease (GERD), motion sickness, and gallbladder problems.

Additionally, certain medical conditions, such as anaemia, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances, can contribute to nausea. Therefore, it is essential to talk to your doctor about any episodes of nausea that you experience to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Nausea at night during early pregnancy, why does it happen?

Nausea during pregnancy, commonly referred to as morning sickness, is a common symptom experienced by many women in early pregnancy.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can result in nausea, which may be more intense at night. In addition, low blood sugar levels, hunger, dehydration, stress or anxiety, and certain foods can trigger nausea.

Eating small, frequent meals and avoiding greasy or spicy foods may help reduce nausea. However, if symptoms persist, speak to your doctor for further advice.

Sleeping Problem. Overhead above top view of stressed African American guy lying alone in bed touching grabbing head feeling depressed, suffering from insomnia or mental problems after breakup


Various health conditions can cause nausea at night, including motion sickness, alcohol consumption, hormonal imbalances, eating too late at night, viral infections, certain medications and sleep apnea.

Speaking to a doctor if you experience nausea during the night is essential, as it could signify a more serious underlying medical condition.

By making lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, eating earlier in the evening, and getting enough quality sleep, you can help reduce your risk of experiencing nausea at night.

Additionally, speak to your doctor if any medications you’re taking could be causing your symptoms. With proper medical care and lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of experiencing nausea during the night.