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The 5 Most Common Reasons for Work-from-Home Headaches

Woman rubbing her temples in front of her laptop.
Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Another day working from home, and another headache. Are they becoming more frequent? Instead of popping another painkiller, let’s tackle some of the most common causes, and find some solutions to prevent them.

Dehydration

Are you paying attention to your water intake throughout the day? Sometimes, no matter how much we swear we refilled that water bottle, we actually haven’t. We’re too busy responding to emails and completing our work.

Dehydration is one of the main causes of headaches. They occur when there’s just not enough fluid and electrolytes in the body to keep all systems running smoothly. This causes the brain to literally shrink and pull away from the skull, causing pain and tension, which turns into a nasty headache. In addition to temporarily decreasing brain tissue volume, dehydration also impairs cognition.

To prevent this from happening while you’re working from home, always keep a drink near your workstation or on your desk. Set alarm reminders on your phone every hour to drink a glass of water. This way, even if you can’t go get a glass of water, you’ll have a backup.

In terms of which fluids are best for proper hydration, water is the best and easiest choice. However, herbal teas, medicinal mushroom cacao, and homemade juices are also great options.

Stay away from coffee, caffeine-boosted energy drinks, sugary juices, and smoothies. These will only dehydrate you more and worsen your headache.

Air Quality

Headaches can occur when the air quality in your home is low. This is bound to happen when you’re stuck in the same space hour after hour. Indoor air pollution is caused by all the possible emissions in your home, like stoves and ovens, fireplaces, cleaning products, cigarettes, and other chemicals.

Occasionally opening your windows to air out your home allows fresh air to circulate and new, fresh oxygen to enter your lungs. However, depending on where you live, it could also allow even more pollutants in and worsen the problem.

Other than paying attention to the chemicals and products you use, investing in a good air purifier is a great way to help improve air quality. It will filter out all the little particles lingering around your workspace.

Generally, if you don’t live in a high-pollution urban area, your best bet is just to open the windows now and then. This will decrease interior carbon dioxide levels with fresh air. The same as a lack of fresh air can make you drowsy or give you a headache while driving, poor air circulation in your home office can do the same.

Screen Time Overdose

Almost everyone could do with a little less screen time. If you’re working from home, it’s easy to have one in front of you from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Between our phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs, we’re focused on at least one gadget all the time.

The simple mechanics of focusing all day on something directly in front of you is already rough on your eyes. Then there’s the emerging research that extended exposure to bright, white-blue light contributes to everything from headaches to sleep disruption. Lots of screen time is rough on your body, no matter how you cut it.

The best way to solve this is to limit the time you spend in front of screens. This is especially true when you start to feel pain and tension behind your eyes and temples. To reduce your overall screen time, turn off your TV a few hours before bedtime. Stop yourself from grabbing your phone first thing in the morning. Take frequent breaks and do anything that isn’t connected to technology, like reading a book, journaling, cooking, organizing, exercising, taking a walk, and so on.

You might also consider getting a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. The specially tinted lenses protect your eyes from straining, and the lightweight frames are comfortable to wear.

Improper Posture

A man at his desk, rubbing the back of his neck after hunching over his laptop.
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

If you’re reading this slouched over your desk, let this be a gentle reminder to sit up straight. This will relieve the tension in your poor, crooked spine. Two of the most common work-from-home positions are hunched over a laptop or “comfortably” sunk into a sofa. Neither of these is good for you.

Slouching puts a lot of pressure on your neck and shoulders. It also causes poor circulation and reduced flow of oxygen to your brain, which, in turn, causes more pain, tightness, and too much pressure. The same is true if you’re all nice and cozy on your sofa. Sure, it might be comfy at first. After a while, though, your circulation will decrease and you’ll start feeling pain everywhere, from your lower back to your head.

Paying attention to your posture is crucial. It’s always better to prevent a problem from happening in the first place, rather than dealing with the painful consequences later.

First and foremost, avoid working from your sofa. Invest in a really good, ergonomic chair. When you spend most of your day at a desk, a good chair that supports your spine is probably one of the most important pieces of furniture you can own.

Second, take frequent breaks. Get up and move around. Do some stretching, mobility exercises, or a quick workout. Take a walk around your neighborhood if you can. You’ll feel your circulation improve. Your focus will also sharpen, and your overall mood will probably lighten, as well.

Lack of Sleep

By now, everyone should be aware of how much lack of sleep can affect them. Yet, the majority of people have trouble sleeping. Some people simply might not be implementing a good sleep routine. Others might not know the cause at all.

Studies have shown the connection between headaches and sleep deprivation. Further, stress and inadequate recovery time can create long-term consequences, which are hard to fix or get under control.

If you like to burn the midnight oil, rearrange your schedule so you can sleep longer in the morning. If you’re more of a morning person, make sure you get in bed before 10 p.m. Your new routine will definitely take some time to adjust to, though, so just be patient.

There are other tools that can improve the duration and quality of sleep. From mediation apps and breathing techniques, to white noise machines and diffusers, there’s something for everyone. Try some of them out, and when you find one that works, stick with it!


Many people suffer from headaches while working from home. However, if you can change some of your work or lifestyle habits, you’ll likely find you can relieve your headaches without reaching for a pill.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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