A person might experience a headache when studying. There are many possible causes, including stress, sleep problems, and screen exposure. A person can take certain steps to reduce headaches when studying.

It is best for a person to contact a doctor if they frequently experience headaches when studying. The doctor can advise on ways to manage headaches.

Depending on a person’s symptoms, the doctor may also be able to confirm or rule out possible medical causes for headaches while studying.

Read on to learn more about what can cause headaches when studying and the steps to take to manage or prevent them. This article also discusses when it is best for a person to contact a doctor.

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Many potential causes and triggers may lead to a headache while studying.

Poor sleep quality

At least 60% of college students in the United States have poor sleep quality, suggests a 2022 study. Around 26.4% of them experience insomnia.

A 2016 study found that people with poor sleep experience migraine headaches more frequently than people who get enough quality sleep.

Discover treatments for sleep deprivation.


Stress was the most reported trigger for migraine headaches among university students in a 2022 study with students in Bangladesh.

Factors like financial problems, increased responsibility, and academic pressure may contribute to a student’s stress.

Learn about ways of managing stress.


Digital eyestrain or computer vision syndrome caused by prolonged reading and prolonged screen exposure may lead to a headache.

This can also occur due to one or a combination of the following:

  • improper viewing distances
  • screen glare
  • poor lighting
  • poor seating posture
  • uncorrected vision problems

A 2022 study about the effects of online learning on headaches among Saudi health sciences students found that prolonged screen exposure is linked with increased reports of headaches.

Learn about exercises and other treatments for eyestrain.


Tension headaches are common among college students due to sustained poor posture during lectures or while studying at home.

Spending too much time in straining positions may cause tightening of the muscles in the back of the neck or scalp, leading to a headache.

Discover tips on how to improve posture.


A 2019 study with U.S. college students reported that 92% consumed caffeine in any form in the past year.

Caffeine overuse can cause chronic migraine headaches. Caffeine withdrawal can also trigger migraine headaches.

Learn more about the effects of caffeine.

There are steps a person can take to prevent or reduce headaches when studying. These include:

  • taking frequent breaks to reduce eyestrain
  • using an ergonomic chair and a non-glare screen
  • maintaining good posture while studying
  • drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks in moderation
  • getting enough quality sleep
  • practicing mindfulness or other stress reduction techniques to manage stress

A person’s doctor can help them find more ways to manage or prevent headaches when studying.

Learn more about treatments for headaches.

A person may be able to prevent headaches when studying by taking breaks, managing caffeine consumption, and making other lifestyle changes.

However, if the headaches persist or worsen, it is best for a person to contact a doctor for advice.

A person may be experiencing migraine headaches if they feel:

  • pain on one or both sides of the head
  • throbbing or pulsating pain
  • sensitivity to lights and sounds
  • nausea and vomiting

A doctor may recommend medication if a person experiences migraine headaches. Discover home remedies for migraine relief and prevention.

While headaches are often primary headaches, they can also happen due to an underlying condition. Some secondary causes of headaches, such as meningitis and glaucoma, may cause these red flags:

A person can consider contacting a doctor if they experience any of these symptoms. The doctor can determine the cause of the symptoms and advise on any treatments they recommend.

Learn more about light sensitivity and migraine.

There are numerous possible causes of headaches when studying. Prolonged study sessions, eyestrain, poor posture, and caffeine overuse can all cause headaches.

Practicing good study habits and making some lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk of headaches. Taking frequent breaks and maintaining good posture can help reduce eyestrain and muscle tightening.

If headaches persist, it is best for a person to contact a doctor for advice. A doctor can help identify any underlying cause of the headaches and recommend appropriate treatment.