The light feels like daggers in your eyes, every noise is too loud and makes your head feel like it’s splitting in two, while the nausea is throwing you for a loop and you can’t even see clearly as you try to make your way to the bathroom – the only reason you left your safe little nest of complete darkness under your bed covers. If this sounds familiar to you, then you have suffered a migraine at least once in your life. It seems like migraines sort of just come and go and don’t seem to have the same triggers each time. What you may not know is that your sleep habits can play a large role in your migraine frequency. Below are a few bad sleep habits that contribute to migraines which you need cut out of your routine.
The Forbidden Sleep Rituals
- Stop Hitting Snooze! It is tempting to have a few more minutes in bed, but snooze is one of your worst enemies if you are a migraine sufferer. A few minutes more of sleep, or more likely lying in bed awake and waiting for the next alarm to go off, can register with your body as interrupted sleep instead of as a few extra minutes of shut-eye. This will increase your fatigue throughout the day, and this sleepiness can trigger migraines.
- Stop Going to Bed on an Irregular Schedule. A regular sleep schedule is incredibly important for good sleep health and the reduction of migraines. This includes waking up and going to sleep at the same time each day, which will prompt your body for sleep or wakefulness, as will a good going-to-bed routine like having a cup of tea, washing your face, brushing your teeth, etc. We are creatures of habit, so repetition has significant influence over how our bodies respond. When you go to bed and wake up at irregular times, your body doesn’t receive these shut-down and wake-up prompts, which can then cause your sleep to be unrestful or lead to struggles with insomnia. The result is extreme fatigue, as with interrupted sleep, and increased risk for migraines. This also goes for taking naps during the day – naps throw you out of rhythm and will negatively impact your ability to sleep at night.
- Stop Sleeping with the Wrong Pillow and Mattress. If you have an old lumpy cotton-filled pillow and an old spring mattress, there’s no wonder why you suffer from morning headaches to full-blown migraines. It’s important to have a pillow and mattress that is firm and supportive, but not too firm, and something that is shapeable and contours to your body, giving it the perfect amount of support and keeping your body at an optimal angle for neck and back health. Something like bamboo pillows or memory foam pillows and mattresses are the best options for migraine sufferers. When considering this purchase, you want to go for something that is also designed to be cool, since excessive warmth will negatively impact sleep as well. The pillow and mattress by Eve Sleep are designed to wick moisture and quickly transfer heat so that the material has a cooling effect. You can read a review of their products here to see what others have to say about this technology.
- Stop Ignoring Your Diet. Believe it or not, your migraines can also be triggered by your digestive system. From blood sugar fluctuation due to irregularly-timed or missed meals to the ingestion of sugar and artificial sweeteners, and even wine can all cause migraines. It would be good to consult a doctor to help you monitor food sensitivities that may be triggering your migraines and to avoid eating known foods associated with sleep problems – acidic foods, sugar, alcohol, etc. – especially before bed. Be sure to drink enough as well, as dehydration is also a migraine trigger. This also goes with drinking caffeinated beverages too late in the day; the caffeine will stimulate wakefulness and make it difficult to fall asleep and will also contribute to dehydration. It is best to stop drinking caffeinated beverages after 2pm.
- Stop Stressing. Ok, so this last point isn’t completely doable, since we have many demands and responsibilities throughout the day – in both our professional and personal lives – that contribute to pressure, stress and anxiety. Stress will never completely go away, but how we deal with stress can make a huge difference. It is important for everyone to find ways to relax and reduce stress, whether it is taking time out and going for a walk, taking in a yoga class, reading a book, meditating, going for a run. We all de-stress differently, so you need to find what works for you and understand your body well enough to know when it’s time to relax.