Darkness | Rest

Darkness and rest for the treatment of migraine headaches: an introduction

Sensitivity to light or photophobia is a common migraine trigger and commonly makes migraine attacks worse. More than three-fourths of people with migraines complain of light sensitivity. For this reason, many migraine sufferers retreat to a quiet, dark room.

It isn’t completely known how light triggers migraine or how blocking light helps migraines. Some scientists believe that the light signals that come in through the eye’s retina somehow activates pain.

Studies on light and migraines

Recent research has found a pathway in the brain that is activated by light, explaining why people who can detect light but are considered legally blind still report that light triggers their migraines. However, light doesn’t impact migraines of patients who are completely blind and cannot see or detect light.

Studies have shown that the neurons in the brain that are activated by light are set off within seconds of exposure to light. The neurons stay active even after the light is taken away.

Migraine sufferers who are sensitive to light are more likely to

  • Retreat into a dark room
  • Wear sunglasses in normal light, indoors or even in the dark
  • Blink during flash photography

As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These descriptions of natural remedies are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no treatment regimen, medication or supplement without first checking with your physician. Again, this information should in no way substitute or be mistaken for medical advice.


Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010
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