Managing Sleep And Migraines

April 27, 2018  |  
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Migraines and sleep have such a delicate relationship. Migraines can cause bad sleep. Bad sleep can cause migraines. The stress over not getting a good night’s rest can cause migraines. The things we do to help us sleep (like drink wine or stare at shows on laptop screens) can trigger migraines. Sleep and migraines have a close relationship, whether we want it that way or not. When I have a migraine, all I want to do is sleep, but it seems harder than ever to do when it literally feels like someone is trying to saw their way out of my skull. So then, my lucky partner has not only a migraine-ridden woman on his hands, but also a sleep-deprived one. Our home can be a very scary place during those times. There isn’t, sadly, any magic cure for this toxic combination, but there are some things you can do to manage your migraines and sleep.

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Get enough sleep

First know that getting the right amount of sleep is important to keeping migraines at bay, or at least not making an active one worse. This doesn’t mean sleeping as much as humanly possible, though. Getting too much sleep, just like not getting enough, can trigger a migraine. So just try to clock seven or eight hours.

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Cut caffeine this early

If you are suffering from an active migraine, you really need to watch it on the caffeine. Try cutting it eight hours before bed (essentially, just have it with breakfast and not again that day). Caffeine makes your brain cells inflame and deflate, which can cause migraines. You don’t want to run that risk near bedtime.

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Make a very dark cave

Turn your bedroom—and your entire home, if possible—into a dark cave. Invest in blackout curtain. Turn off lights. Make your home feel like a cocoon several hours before you even need to go to bed. This can calm down your inflamed noggin.

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Stay away from screens

The bright light from screens can make migraines worse. So don’t watch a show on your laptop to fall asleep. If you have to, dim the screen substantially.

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Get great earplugs

It’s very important to eliminate sleep disturbances as much as possible. Being awoken abruptly from a deep sleep can trigger and worsen migraines. So invest in good earplugs and a white noise machine.

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Put a “do not disturb” sign up

Really, do what you have to do to make sure nobody wakes you up before it’s time to get up. Put a “Do not disturb residents” sign on your front door, so solicitors or nosy neighbors don’t knock early in the morning.

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Take 24-hour pain relievers early

Most 24-hour migraine medication contains caffeine. Take the stuff in the morning, so that the effects of the caffeine can begin to wear off by bedtime. Taking this medication at nighttime can mean a terrible bout of insomnia.

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Take the room to yourself

If you have to be a little selfish during a migraine, that’s okay. Keeping in mind that eliminating sleep disturbances is crucial, you may want to ask your partner to sleep in the guest room until your migraine has passed. You don’t want his movements to wake you during the night.

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Have a light but filling meal

Blood sugar fluctuations can bring on those migraines. Make sure to have a high protein but light, low sugar meal for dinner. You want food that will provide you prolonged, stable blood sugar levels throughout the night.

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Sleep at the same time

Changes in your sleep schedule can trigger migraines. Migraines, in general, are very sensitive to changes. So try to stick to the same snooze hours if possible.

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If possible, avoid alarm clocks

Again, being awoken from a deep REM cycle can be a major migraine trigger. I realize that avoiding alarm clocks isn’t possible for some people, but keep in mind that you can always just go to bed much earlier so that you’ll naturally awake before your alarm clock.

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Explain to your family that this is serious

Make sure your family, significant other, roommate, or whomever you live with, understand how serious it is that you get good sleep when you have migraines. It’s important that they are sensitive to your issue, and also take steps to help you get some rest.

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Instead, try sunrise lights

If you need to make sure you wake up at a certain time, you can try sunrise lights. There are special automatic lights that mimic the sunrise, slowly getting brighter in the morning, allowing you to gradually wake up rather than abruptly.

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Stay hydrated

Dehydration can be a major migraine trigger. You don’t want to drink too much water late in the day, since your bladder may then wake you up, but just make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day.

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Be aware of jaw clenching

Jaw clenching could be a cause of your migraines. See a dentist if you suspect you’ve been clenching your jaw at night. She’ll be able to recognize the signs right away.

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