Do you often wake up with a migraine attack after a bad night’s sleep? People living with migraine are between 2 and 8 times more likely to experience sleep disorders, compared with the general public.
Sleep and headache
The less we sleep, the more likely we are to have pain. Poor sleep can decrease pain threshold and make us more prone to migraine and other types of headaches. Whether you have migraine disease or not sleep is important for our overall well being and vital for managing migraine. Generally speaking, the worse you sleep, the worse your migraine attacks are likely to be. Thee two most important factors for the sleep and migraine are quality of sleep and consistency. It is clear that some headache disorders are profoundly influenced by sleep, and some seem to occur exclusively in relation to sleep. Conversely, both of these groups of headache disorders can affect sleep, giving rise to a causality dilemma (or a “chicken and egg” scenario).
- Sleep loss and oversleeping are common headache triggers.
- Regular, adequate sleep leads to fewer headaches.
Routine is vital. The migraine brain loves routine. Anything that messes with this routine could trigger an attack. For sleep, this means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Do you ever experience that weekend migraine attack? It could be because you’re going to bed late and then sleeping in. Lack of sleep is a well-known trigger, as is too much sleep (such as lying in at the weekend). Similarly, shift-work and jet lag have been reported to be triggers in some individuals, suggesting an influence of both sleep and the circadian timing system. Excessive sleepiness may be part of the premonitory phase before a migraine attack, or a symptom following the attack.
Sleep hygiene is a key factor in managing migraine headaches.
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, as sleeping during the correct phase of your circadian cycle is important.
- Understand your sleep need, including both the timing of sleep (when feels right for you to go to bed), and the duration of sleep (most adults need about 8 hours a night).
- Do try and spend some time outdoors or in natural light during the daytime, as this provides an important cue to your brain for finetuning timing of the body clock.
- Try and make your sleeping environment as restful as possible, including sufficient darkness and quiet, comfortable bedding and few devices around the bed, particularly those with lights.
- Exercise, preferably before dinner rather than before bed, can be helpful as can stopping smoking as nicotine has a stimulant effect and suppresses melatonin.
- It would be sensible to recommend that you don’t use your bed for activities that could be done elsewhere (such as watching TV, studying), and try to avoid staying in bed if you are wide-awake.
- Avoiding caffeine before bed is recommended, as is avoiding alcohol, as this actually reduces the overall quality of your sleep rather than improving your sleep as is commonly assumed.
The pain felt by Migraine sufferers can be agonizing and keep you from living your life to the fullest. Since every Migraine headache disorder patient has different needs, it is important for Dr Virk to evaluate you to determine which unique treatment plan can maximize results for you. If you think you may have Migraine headaches or sleep apnea or if you just have questions, please feel free to contact us to make an appointment!
Note: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.