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Sleep Routine

I’ve become a lady of routine in the last year or so. I do so much better if I wake around the same time each morning, make my smoothie and coffee, work during the daylight, read in the evening, and climb in bed between 10:30 and 11:30 PM. I started the routine because of my migraine disease, having read a lot about how interrupted sleep, changing patterns, unpredictable routines, etc. could serve as triggers for migraineurs. I continued the routine because it made me feel more energetic, more cheerful, and more productive. Oh yeah—the migraine frequency decreased, too.

Readers of this blog know that I’ve talked before about my inabililty/unwillingness to stick to a routine that actually works for me. Case in point: I know I feel better if I walk regularly, eat regularly, keep a consistent sleep pattern, avoid the avoidable triggers, and take my vitamins. Yet I don’t stick to it.

This week I’ve discovered something, though—messing up the routine isn’t just hazardous to my health, migraine-wise. It screws with other facets of my life. Today I am nannying. Whenever the baby is asleep, I try to squeeze in work (bookstore work, editing assignments, and/or writing). Because I have such a short span of time in which I can get things done, I pound out a lot of work during nap time. That is, if I’ve been feeling well and keeping to my sleep schedule.

Today I could not get myself motivated to work during naptime. I usually feel borderline-feverish with the long list of things I want to do during business hours while the baby sleeps, but today I just felt listless and tired. There are a handful of very important matters to attend to, but I just don’t much care. All I want to do is take a nap.

Luckily, I’ve had a good time the nights I’ve been up late this week. On Monday, friends came over for my birthday celebration. On Wednesday, a friend of mine (who happens to be a stellar children’s author) came to Athens to sleep over and hang out before her school visit the next morning. And last night, my sister and I went to the UGA Women’s Basketball game and then spent a couple hours downtown with some new friends. All fun things. All worthwhile things. But dang I am tired now.

Which begs the question many chronic migraineurs have dealt with before: how do you decide which routine-breaking activities are “worth it”? Which nights is it okay to go to bed at 2 AM instead of 11 PM? And which mornings will you be so groggy (and/or headachey) that you wish you’d just not done that fun thing the night before?

I’m torn. The weekend is here, and I certainly want to go out and have fun and spend time with my sister, who does NOT go to bed at 11 PM. But I think what’s best for me will be to make sure I’m home a little after 10. I need to get back in gear, and my routine may be the key.

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.


  • Rebecca M Foster Comer
    8 years ago

    I have to say that having a migrane disturbs my sleep, routine, and now I am screwed up as far as sleep.. how do i get it back?

  • Laura
    9 years ago

    Keeping a good solid sleep routine is one of the few things I’ve found that I have any control over that helps. I am now a creature of habit in that regard.

  • Patrick Hearne
    9 years ago

    I haven’t quite understand how routine or lack thereof is affecting my migraines yet. I have such a serious, obvious trigger to sunlight that I’ve ended up spending more time awake in the middle of the night just because it feels a lot better to not get a flash of sun in the eyes then a migraine 10 minutes later. I’ve woken up with migraines often enough that it just throws off my routine even more because sleeping it off whenever possible seems like one of the most consistent treatment options. I’ll end up waking up, taking some medicine, then going right back to bed and it’ll be gone when I awake after another 2-4 hours. On the other hand, a routine in other areas such as when I eat, when I take the preventatives, and even when I exercise does appear to extend the length of time before the next migraine so I can be more productive on the good days, if for no other reason then having a mental log of how far I got ‘this time’. It helps me stay positive to see progress at any level, and leaves my record of how often it happens and why off the mind and confined to a written log.

  • Nate Saffle
    9 years ago

    I guess it comes down to is the event you’re adjusting routine fore worth the cost of losing several hours of migraine in the near future. I have a limited amount of migraines, however when they do hit they can take me down for anywhere between 5-12 hours, so if I’m adjusting my sleep routine, I take that into account. I still haven’t found out my exact triggers, but adjusted sleep patterns definitely are a constant precursor to my migraines.

  • Mary Lou Carr
    9 years ago

    I’m realizing that keeping to a routine is making a huge difference in my migraines. I do still seem to only have the morning to get things done and fizzle out in the afternoon and will get a migraine then, that is if I don’t wake up with one due to a trigger from the day before or the weather change. I was getting 4 – 5 migraines a week, I’m now down to 3+ on a good week and I consider that an improvement. This past holiday season I only made it to Thanksgiving and missing the other holiday events, especially Christmas, broke my heart. I’m optimistic that this year if I’m very, very careful and with the new medications that I’m on, I won’t miss a thing!

  • Jaylene Ancheta
    9 years ago

    I find that disrupting my routine always triggers a migraine for me. I’m also always choosing to go for the fun stuff despite the consequences. My life as a Migraineur causes me to miss out on so many events I really can’t stand to miss out on the ones that I don’t have to. I’ve missed out on family Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other events important to me. If I miss out on every thing else too, what’s the point of having a life. Suffering, but being there has been worth it for me.

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