Waking up feeling sick? Here's what causing your morning sickness—bar the obvious

Research published in the BMJ last year showed 1 to 2% of women suffer from morning sickness in the UK.

Research published in the BMJ last year showed 1 to 2% of women suffer from morning sickness in the UK.

FYI, morning sickness isn't something that just affects pregnant women.

If you're waking up feeling icky, you're not alone: research published in the BMJ last year found that around 1 to 2% of women suffer from morning sickness in the UK.

Feeling sick after sex is also a thing, sadly, and we've spoken to a doctor about how to deal with that, too. But while you're here, keep scrolling for top tips on dealing with your symptoms, plus some doctor-approved morning sickness remedies, too.

So, what is morning sickness? 

As per the NHS website, morning sickness is a type of 'nausea and vomiting... common in early pregnancy.' But what about if you're being sick in the mornings and have taken several negative tests, confirming you're not expecting?

According to doctor Luke McCabe, non-pregnancy related morning sickness has a strong link to a disruption to your circadian rhythm.

"Think poor sleep hygiene, disrupted sleep or insomnia," he shares. "These are all more likely to suffer from morning sickness. The more the science reveals how important sleep is for our overall health and life expectancy, the more I believe it will help us understand other issues that may occur due to poor sleep quality," he adds.

McCabe continues: "Chronological medicine and advancements in research show that we have circadian clocks in a lot of our organs, including the stomach and digestive system."

Morning sickness: A woman lying down on her sofa feeling nauseous

Why am I regularly feeling sick in the morning? 

Your morning sickness could be caused by, as above, anything that disrupts your circadian rhythm. "That could be sleep issues, low blood sugar levels, or even acid reflux," he explains.

Top tip: while it sounds counterintuitive, McCabe shares that eating a small snack or breakfast can often alleviate symptoms quite well.

  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Acid reflux
  • Nasal congestion
  • Postnasal drip
  • UTI's
  • Stress
  • Migraines
  • Muscle pains
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety.

What are the best morning sickness remedies?

McCabe reckons that there's not one remedy, but several.

"My advice would be to evaluate your sleep, nutrition, lifestyle and general wellbeing," he shares. "Often, by addressing these you can clear it up pretty well," the doctor shares. Further, try the following:

1. Drink plenty of water

This one's huge, shares McCabe. "Adding electrolytes to your water can help absorption into the cells," he says.

2. Rest

Simple, but easier said than done. The doctor also shares to "make sure you look for ways to subtly decrease your stress." Our guide to stress management techniques may help.

3. Eat a small meal

As above, the doctor reckons that eating a small balanced meal of complex carbs and protein in the morning can help. "Think a bowl of oats with seeds and nuts," he reccomends.

4. Try some exercise

This one isn't for everyone, but for some, it can help. "Slow, restorative movements that don't push your body hard, or make you jump up and down too much are best," he says.

When do I see a medical professional?

If symptoms persist, do make sure to call your GP or 111.

"You should also always call a doctor if you have been unable to keep food or water down for more than 24 hours, feel weak or dizzy when you stand up, and have abdominal pain, a high temperature, blood in your vomit or dark urine," he warns.

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and is a stickler for a strong stat, too, seeing over nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.