Migraine, Mental Health, and Sleep
Last updated: April 2023
Both migraine disease and commonly associated mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can cause major issues with our ability to get to sleep and reduce the quality of our sleep.
Sleep issues and migraine
Sleep issues and migraine are a vicious cycle: lack of sleep is known to trigger migraine attacks, but often when we're experiencing migraine attacks or a great deal of anxiety, our sleep is seriously disrupted. Your sleep will probably never be perfect, but the good news is that there are things you can do to improve it. As with so many aspects of migraine disease, routine is the key.
Experts recommend 5 principles for better sleep:
Establish a routine and stick to it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays. It's common to talk ourselves into thinking it's okay to sleep during the day if we don't sleep well during the night. It's best to get up at your normal time to stay on your normal schedule even if you didn't sleep well.
Create an environment that is conducive to good sleep. You'll want to address two main issues: light and temperature.
Try to keep your sleeping area dark while you rest, but allow sunlight to come in as the sun rises so your body naturally responds to the trigger to wake up at the right time. Avoid sleeping with a TV on and if you feel you can't fall asleep without the TV on, set a timer so it will turn off automatically after you fall asleep.
Most people sleep best in a cooler room, so having a fan on hand is a good idea. It can double as white noise, which also helps with sleep.
Move a little bit every day. Exercise can be difficult for people with migraine, but if you can get in a little walking and stretching, it will help so much in improving the quality of your rest. Don't overdo it when you're starting out. Just do a little bit at a time and see if you can work your way up to more vigorous exercise.
Have a bedtime routine. Try to start doing something every evening as you prepare for bed that relaxes you and gets you in the right head space to rest and recover. Reading, stretching, yoga, meditation, and chatting about a neutral topic with your partner are all good options.
Avoid caffeine. Try to limit your intake of caffeine within a few hours of your bedtime or cut back earlier in the day if you have trouble getting to sleep at a good time. Some people can tolerate more caffeine than others without disturbing their sleep, so it's important to determine how much you can stand and stick to that limit.
What helps you get better sleep? Please share in the comments.
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