Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Learning to chill out a little regarding my sleep schedule

I remember having an “Oh, DUH!” lightbulb moment many moons ago when I was researching migraine and learned that there is a bevy of sleep-related triggers: too much sleep, too little sleep, interrupted sleep, and more can all trigger migraine episodes in us sensitive folk.  As I think back on the day I learned about sleep triggers, I imagine myself hitting my own head Homer Simpson style (“D’oh!”)—but of course it’s not smart for The Migraine Girl to wallop herself in the head, so I’ll censor that vision.

Anyway, I just remember wondering how I hadn’t made that connection before on my own.  Now that I knew about sleep-related triggers, though, I would take action. Within several weeks, I was watching my own sleep patterns like a hawk.  I would go to bed around the same time every night and try to wake around the same time every day.  I started feeling a little better.

You know what else? I also got a lot more stressed out about my sleeping regimen.  If for some reason I couldn’t get into my bed by the designated time, I would start feeling panicky about the migraine I was afraid would come for me the next day.  If Jim came to bed hours after I did and woke me up, I’d have so much trouble falling back asleep, mostly because I was anxious about the sleep I was missing.  “Oh no! My sleep is being interrupted! Am I going to have a migraine tomorrow?!”

I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve chilled out a lot regarding my sleep.  I still try to go to bed around the same time every night, and I try not to snooze (at least not too much) after my alarm goes off. (Speaking of snoozing: I admit that I posted two articles here recently that mentioned wanting to change my snoozing routine only to never take action on that—I apologize, guys.)

Last night I headed to bed with a book around 10:30pm, hopeful I’d have a good 30-45 minutes of reading time before I conked out.  I’m not sure what time I fell asleep, but it was before 11:00pm, and I slept soundly…until Jim came to bed a couple of hours later.  From that point on, I tossed and turned. Jim’s very light snoring didn’t wake me up from sleep, but it did contribute to my not being able to go back to sleep.  The cat’s antics (moving from the crook of my legs to the crook of Jim’s legs, then deciding it was time to run some laps while chasing an old receipt) did nothing to help my attempts to go back to bed.

I started feeling that old panic rise again. I have a big week ahead, so making sure I wake up refreshed on a Monday morning seems like an important goal.  I started going through my to-do list mentally and thought about climbing out of bed around 3:00am to just work, but I somehow convinced myself to focus on my breathing and fall back asleep. I slept fitfully the rest of the morning and was relieved to look at the clock at 7:30 and find it was time to get up.  I feel fine. I feel as rested as I usually do upon waking, and I’m writing and working before the clock even strikes nine.

Note to self: Janet, it’s not likely that your day will be ruined if you have one night of rough sleep.  It’s not likely that your week will be crushed under the weight of migraine attacks if your sleep gets messed up if you can remember to stay calm and try to relax.

How do you feel about poor or interrupted sleep and the anxiety that often accompanies it? How do you handle this in relation to your migraine patterns?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Shani
    4 years ago

    Major trigger! Ugh how interrupted sleep is bad! It’s bad when my husband snores, I have taken to sleeping in another location. Used to be the couch but now my son is off to college I at least get rest in his bed. When my daughter was born and the first endless months of little sleep nearly killed me!! I was not a lovely person!! Elavil has been a staple although I did get to a high dosage and weaned off for a year. But now I’m back on it at a much lower dose. Hope I can stay there for a while…

  • Beth
    4 years ago

    As much as I hate to admit it, sleep distribution does cause a migraine for me. My trouble is my husband works mostly nights…and I get used to sleeping alone, he’ll be off and he’s an extremely restless sleeper. I think it’s probably because he’s not used to sharing the bed. LOL Anyways, those nights are rough and I don’t get much sleep. I used to get up and watch tv or do something. Not anymore. I just try to relax…sometimes I can get back to sleep! But I still get a migraine.

  • Holly
    4 years ago

    Actually getting too much sleep is more likely to trigger a migraine for me than too little sleep. If it’s going to happen I wake up with the headache so I know right away if I’ve messed up.

  • Rosiebelle
    4 years ago

    I discovered in college that once my schedule got busy I couldn’t just stop and sleep in after it was all over. I had to get up every morning and be dressed for 8am with an appointment Scheduled. If I didnt I always got a migraine. So now I know if I get busy I need to slowly adjust my schedule once things settle down. I also can’t take naps because I will get amigraine! I wake up every other week with a three day migraine starting at 2am. Sleep can be difficult!

  • txrungirl
    4 years ago

    After dealing with migraines for decades, I finally realized that sleep problems were a trigger. I have always been a night owl. Not anymore. However, I cannot “chill” about this trigger. While I now have a regular bedtime, my awaken time differs due to my running schedule as I am an endurance runner. Sometimes, I have to get up as early as 4:30am to leave at 5am. Obviously, I don’t want to make this my daily schedule. It’s a 40/60 chance that I trigger a migraine these days. However, exercise is too important to my mental and physical health!

  • jblake-test
    4 years ago


  • Carolyn
    4 years ago

    I can completely sympathize with this! I’ve always been anxious about sleeping, partly because I’m afraid it will leave me feeling so rough I can’t get anything done the next day, either because of a migraine or an upset stomach from acid reflux (which also seems much worse with irregular sleep), and then of course, the two things seem to set each other off in terms of symptoms and discomfort. It’s the worst. I also focus on my breathing, specifically exhaling for just a second or two longer than the inhale to help slow myself down when I’m feeling anxious in bed. If I’m struggling at all to sleep, or feeling nervous, I put emphasis on just “resting.” I reason that even if I somehow don’t end up sleeping that night, rest will be better than nothing, and the best way to rest is to just relax and lay there, breathe, think about something pleasant. For me, it takes the pressure off the need to fall asleep, which makes it much more possible.

  • Poll