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Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Wake Up?

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Waking up with stomach pain is an unpleasant way to start your day, and the discomfort can make it harder to get up and get moving. You may experience morning pain that goes away after a while or sticks around for the whole day. If this has happened to you, you may be left wondering why it occurred in the first place.

Fortunately, most of the time the causes behind this aren’t serious, but there could be cases in which medical attention is needed. Below, we’ll go over some common reasons your stomach might hurt in the morning and when a healthcare provider needs to be involved.

Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Wake Up: 12 Possible Reasons

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Experts estimate that 10 – 15 percent1 of adults in the United States experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Even though this condition is common, it’s often undiagnosed.

Symptoms can include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, changes in the appearance of a bowel movement, or changes in how often you’re having a bowel movement.1 These symptoms can vary from person to person, but the common thread is that IBS symptoms are usually present for a long period of time.

IBS is usually triggered by food sensitivities and stress. Cutting out certain foods2 and beverages like dairy, sweeteners, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and certain hard-to-digest vegetables (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts) can help. Perhaps more important, though, is making sure your nervous system is regulated and calm. Digestion happens in a parasympathetic state3, also known as the “rest and digest” state, and if you are consistently stressed, you’ll likely have issues with digestion.


Indigestion is not all that different from IBS. In fact, indigestion is one of the most common symptoms of IBS4, though it can occur in people who don’t have long-term, chronic symptoms of IBS.

You might be experiencing indigestion5 if you have pain or discomfort in your upper abdomen, a burning pain behind the breastbone (heartburn), a feeling of fullness or bloating, nausea, gas, or burping. Indigestion commonly occurs shortly after a meal (or perhaps a heavy or unusual meal the night before), but it can also be caused by smoking, drinking, pregnancy, stress, or certain medications.5

You can treat indigestion by changing your diet6, and for occasional indigestion, try taking over-the-counter antacids like Pepto Bismol. If you have any other underlying conditions, though, you should speak with your healthcare provider before using any new medication.

Learn More: Best Sleeping Positions for a Bloated Stomach

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is one of those instances where if you’ve had it, you probably know you’ve had it. Symptoms may include7 an upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

If you wake up with food poisoning, it’s likely that something you ate the previous night or day was contaminated, sometimes because of a lack of being cooked fully. According to the CDC8, some common culprits include raw or undercooked shellfish, beef or poultry, and raw or expired dairy products.

Luckily, food poisoning usually resolves on its own. Be sure to replace fluids you’re losing with lots of water with electrolytes, avoid eating until symptoms are resolved (and then only eat small bites of bland food, like crackers or toast), and don’t take antidiarrheal medications, as these might prolong your symptoms.


Food poisoning is one of those instances where if you’ve had it, you probably know you’ve had it. Symptoms may include7 an upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

If you wake up with food poisoning, it’s likely that something you ate the previous night or day was contaminated, sometimes because of a lack of being cooked fully. According to the CDC8, some common culprits include raw or undercooked shellfish, beef or poultry, and raw or expired dairy products.

Luckily, food poisoning usually resolves on its own. Be sure to replace fluids you’re losing with lots of water with electrolytes, avoid eating until symptoms are resolved (and then only eat small bites of bland food, like crackers or toast), and don’t take antidiarrheal medications, as these might prolong your symptoms.

Read More: Best Magnesium Supplements for Sleep

Food Allergies, Sensitivities, or Intolerances

A food allergy means you can have an allergic reaction to a certain food, and this type of allergy could be life-threatening, with symptoms including difficulty breathing and low blood pressure13

Food intolerances and sensitivities are different, though, and in some cases, a person may think they’re allergic to a particular food when they actually have a sensitivity or intolerance to it. A food intolerance means your body isn’t able to process or digest certain foods, with one of the most common food intolerances being lactose. Symptoms of food intolerance can include stomach bloating, inflammation, and diarrhea.13

A food sensitivity, on the other hand, is an immune reaction to certain foods, and one of the symptoms of this is stomach pain. A common food sensitivity among people is gluten.13If you suspect you might have a food intolerance or sensitivity that’s causing your stomach pain, then you might consider an elimination diet14, which is when you eliminate certain food groups from your diet one at a time to figure out what is causing the problem. Since gluten is a common sensitivity and lactose is a common intolerance, eliminating foods with these ingredients could be a good place to start.


According to the Mayo Clinic15, constipation is when you pass stool fewer than three times a week or generally have a difficult time passing stool.

If you’ve recently stopped eating as much fiber, don’t exercise regularly, or don’t drink enough water, you may develop constipation.15 In fact, experts report that the average American doesn’t get enough fiber16 in their diet, which may explain why constipation is considered the most frequent gastrointestinal complaint17 in the United States.

The good news is that this condition is relatively easy to treat. You’ll want to eat foods higher in fiber, drink more water, and get regular exercise.15

For constipation relief, you can also try an abdominal massage at home18.

Stomach Ulcers

Stomach ulcers have a distinct feeling; it’s like a burning or gnawing inside your stomach, between your breastbone and belly button19. An ulcer might improve temporarily when you eat or drink, or take an antacid, and it may feel worse between meals or at night when your stomach acid builds up without food to digest. Ulcers will also feel different than something like heartburn because the pain of a stomach ulcer is localized to the ulcer itself, whereas heartburn affects a broader area.

If you think you may have a stomach ulcer, your treatment will depend on what caused the ulcer in the first place. For example, if it was caused by a bacterial infection, you’ll need to get a specific type of medication. If it was caused by taking NSAIDs (non-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen), you’ll likely need to take antacids.19 

If you think your stomach pain might be due to an ulcer, don’t try to remedy it on your own; instead, you should seek medical attention.

Celiac Disease

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine20, more than 2 million Americans have been diagnosed with Celiac disease. This condition occurs in people with a gluten sensitivity and can be hereditary. Symptoms can include gas, chronic diarrhea or constipation, weight loss, and stomach swelling or bloating accompanied by pain. In addition to these gut issues, you may experience muscle cramps, joint pain, an itchy rash, anemia, or loss of enamel in your teeth.20

The only treatment for Celiac disease is to remove gluten from your diet.20 Gluten is a kind of protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and some oats. Eliminating gluten from your diet may feel challenging at first, but there are now lots of gluten-free options for many favorite foods.

Diverticular Disease

There are two types of diverticular diseases21: diverticulosis and diverticulitis. They both take place in the large intestine and are caused by diverticula, which are small bumps or bulges that form on the wall of your colon.21

Diverticulosis doesn’t always cause symptoms, though potential symptoms may include cramps, bloating, or constipation. However, it can lead to diverticulitis, which means an infection of one or more of your diverticula. This will feel distinct, and you may experience stomach pain, specifically in the lower left area. Additional symptoms might include fever, nausea, or chills.21

If you have diverticulosis, it can be treated by increasing the amount of healthy fiber and water in your diet. Diverticulitis, however, needs to be treated with medication or possibly even surgery, so talk to your healthcare provider if you think you might have this.21

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

If your stomach pain is lower and more located in the pelvis, it might be pelvic inflammatory disease22 (PID). This condition only occurs in those with female reproductive systems. That said, even though people with male reproductive organs can’t have the disease, males can either be a cause or part of the issue in its development. This is because the bacteria that can lead to PID can spread during sex.22

Symptoms of PID include pain around the pelvis and lowest part of the belly, discomfort during sex (felt deep inside the pelvis area), bleeding between periods or after sex, heavy or painful periods, or pain while urinating.22If you think your stomach pain might be caused by PID, talk to your doctor. You’ll get a course of antibiotics23, and you’ll need to abstain from sex until after your treatment is completed to prevent the infection from coming back.


Gastritis happens when your stomach lining becomes inflamed24. What causes this can vary, but the possibilities could be a bacterial infection, certain medications, stress, alcohol abuse, autoimmune diseases, surgery, or smoking.24

Gastritis is normally felt as pain or discomfort in the abdomen, and you might feel full or a burning sensation in your stomach. If you’re waking up in the morning with these symptoms, possibly accompanied by loss of appetite and/or blood in your stool or vomit, gastritis might be the culprit.24

If you think you have gastritis, you’ll want to see a doctor since medication may be needed. There are also some ways to help prevent it, such as avoiding fried or spicy foods, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, managing stress, and regularly washing your hands.24


Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic25. Both can show up as severe belly pain that may spread to your chest and back and will probably be worse after you eat. You might have swelling and tenderness in your upper belly or even fluid buildup in your stomach. Additional symptoms might include fever, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).25

Whether it is acute or chronic, pancreatitis can be serious, so if you think you have it, call your healthcare provider. They’ll likely help you give your pancreas a rest by putting you on an IV and providing you with whatever medications are needed. Unfortunately, pancreatitis isn’t something you can treat at home, but you can help prevent it by avoiding alcohol and cigarettes.25

Can Sleeping on Your Stomach Cause Stomach Pain?

There are multiple reasons why stomach sleeping is bad for you. Not only can it put increased pressure on your lower back and neck, but it also has an impact on your digestion.

One  study26 showed that low back pain, which can be caused by sleeping on your stomach, can lead to chronic constipation and other gut/bowel issues. This creates a problematic cycle for your quality of rest because gut and bowel issues can then cause sleep difficulties.

When to See a Healthcare Provider About Stomach Pain in the Morning

Fortunately, many of the reasons your stomach might be hurting can be treated at home by changing your diet or even the way you sleep. Sometimes, though, it’s best to get in touch with a doctor straight away.

For example, if you think you might have stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, PID, gastritis, or pancreatitis, you’ll want to contact your doctor as medication might be involved in your treatment.

Always see your doctor if your pain is persistent or severe, unexplained or not impacted by diet, or if you have been injured or are pregnant.

Tips to Stop Stomach Pain in the Morning

Try Over-the-Counter Treatments

Depending on what sort of stomach pain you’re experiencing when you wake up, there are plenty of over-the-counter medications that can provide you with some immediate relief. If you’re experiencing gas pain, try a medication with the ingredient “simethicone” like Gas-X, or try taking digestive enzymes with foods that are hard to digest (like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, or beans).

For heartburn, there are antacids like Pepcid AC (famotidine) or Nexium (esomeprazole), and for cramping or general stomach upset, Pepto Bismol is a safe and reliable solution.

Occasional constipation can be relieved with a mild laxative or stool softener — or you can load up on fiber, water, and magnesium. As there are many types of magnesium, you should focus on the types that are known to relieve constipation. “As an integrative pharmacist, I recommend magnesium oxide or magnesium hydroxide.” – Dr. Swathi Varanasi, PharmD

To reduce pain immediately, you can take an acetaminophen like Tylenol but stay away from NSAIDs like Ibuprofen as they can further irritate your stomach.

Although these medications are over the counter, we encourage you to consult with your healthcare provider first if you have any other underlying conditions.

Make Lifestyle Changes

If you’re regularly waking up with stomach pain, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to feel better quickly. First of all, if you’re eating just before going to sleep, avoid these late-night meals. In general, you should avoid eating a meal at least three hours before sleep.

Adding in more exercise during the day and eliminating or cutting back on things like alcohol, sugar, caffeine, spicy foods, fried and processed foods, and cigarettes, will also directly impact your gut health. If this seems like a tall order, you can at least start by taking short walks during the day or cutting back on these things at night before bedtime to avoid waking up with stomach pain.

If you are eating any of the most commonly triggering foods for those with allergies (peanuts, soy, eggs, dairy, wheat, shellfish, tree nuts, or fish), you might try eliminating one of these groups at a time to see if that helps.

Changing your sleep style could also make a positive difference. Rather than sleeping on your stomach, try sleeping on your left side, which is considered a helpful position for digestion.

Read about our best mattresses for side sleepers here.

If you do not want to change your sleep position, explore our picks for the best mattresses for stomach sleepers or the best mattresses of 2024.

See a Doctor

If you’re waking up regularly with stomach pain, call your doctor. They can make sure there isn’t something serious going on and help guide you to finding some immediate relief.

Morning Stomach Pain FAQs

How do I know if my stomach pain is serious?

If you’re concerned your stomach pain is serious, the best way to find out is to consult your primary care physician. Otherwise, be on the lookout for these symptoms27, which can indicate a more serious problem: persistent fever, ongoing nausea or vomiting, blood in your stools, urine or vomit, swelling and tenderness to the touch, jaundice, pain in other parts of your body, or shortness of breath. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

Can eating before bed cause stomach pain in the morning?

Eating before bed may cause stomach pain in the morning in certain circumstances. For example, if you eat foods that you’re sensitive to or have an intolerance to, this may cause morning side effects like bloating, inflammation, indigestion, or diarrhea. Some of the more common food sensitivities and intolerances people have are lactose and gluten.13

Even if you don’t have any food sensitivities, eating an especially large or rich meal close to bedtime could cause indigestion, which may show up as stomach pain in the morning. 

What should I eat if my stomach hurts in the morning?

What you should eat for an upset stomach depends on what’s causing your discomfort. For example, if you’re experiencing constipation or bloating in the morning, experts at Cleveland Clinic recommend fruits and whole grains28. Something like oatmeal with blueberries might help. 

On the other hand, if you have diarrhea in the morning, try something bland with less fiber, like simple toast and a banana.28

Natalie Grigson

Natalie Grigson


About Author

Natalie is a content writer for Sleep Advisor with a deep passion for all things health and a fascination with the mysterious activity that is sleep. Outside of writing about sleep, she is a bestselling author, improviser, and creative writing teacher based out of Austin.

Combination Sleeper


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  2. “5 Foods to Avoid if You Have IBS”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webapage accessed September 6, 2023. 
  3. “Parasympathetic Nervous System”. Science Direct. Webpage accessed November 21, 2023.
  4. “8 Signs That Irritable Bowel Syndrome’s Causing Your Digestive Troubles”. Cleveland Clinic. 2023.
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  6. “GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn)”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed September 6, 2023. 
  7. “Food poisoning”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified February 13, 2024.
  8. “Foods That Can Cause Food Poisoning”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified August 9, 2023. 
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  15. “Constipation”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified October 20, 2023.
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  18. “Bowel Function 101: DIY Belly Massage for Constipation”. Greater Boston Urology. 2020.
  19. “Stomach Ulcer”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified March 18, 2024.
  20.  “Celiac Disease”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed September 6, 2023
  21. “Diverticular Disease”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed April 3, 2024.
  22. “Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified April 30, 2022.
  23. “Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): Diagnosis & treatment.” Last modified April 30, 2022. 
  24. “Gastritis”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed April 3, 2024.
  25. “Pancreatitis”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed April 3, 2024.
  26.  Arai, Young-Chang., et al. “The Association Between Constipation or Stool Consistency and Pain Severity in Patients With Chronic Pain”. Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. 2018.
  27.  “Abdominal Pain”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified April 18, 2022. 
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