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Migraine Insomnia

In the last few weeks, I have had several migraines that made it all but impossible to sleep. It is an interesting type of migraine to say the least compared to my normal type of migraine. It does not come with nausea or dizziness, but it is definitely an extremely unpleasant migraine.

This new migraine

I have been getting these throbbing migraines that feel like pressure from both sides of my head and at the temple that kind of pulses in the middle of my head. I am still fairly functional during these migraines, unlike the version of migraines that completely take my feet out from under me. Although this type of migraine makes sleep just utterly impossible. Even with abortive medication, just enough of the pain and throbbing stays at the forefront to keep me from being able to fall asleep.

Insomnia and migraine attacks – the vicious cycle

This becomes a vicious cycle because the migraines are causing the insomnia and in turn the insomnia causes more migraines to occur. Sleep or rather consistent sleep is crucial for migraine sufferers. Changes in our regular sleep pattern can trigger more frequent or more intense migraines than we would normally have with regular sleep patterns.

Consistency isn’t easy

I struggle with consistency at home a lot. Consistency during the week is easy enough to maintain because I have a work schedule that is set. On the other hand, the weekends are a different story for me. I always seem to try to cram too many things into the days and we end up staying up way too late as a direct result. Due to this, we often find ourselves not feeling great and basically wasting part of our days napping because we do not feel well.

As far as migraines go, in my world this type is not what I would consider my worst episodes, but they are by far some of the most frustrating ones because they are just intense enough to make me extremely uncomfortable and more times than not, the abortive does not completely get rid of the migraine. Coping with this type of migraine is exceptionally difficult and frustrating. The pain stops me from being able to sleep and lack of sleep causes more migraine pain, which leaves me feeling drained and unfortunately powerless. Much like some other individuals, there does not seem to be anything even my doctor can really do about my migraines.

No way of knowing why I have different types of migraines

There are no concrete reasons for my migraines, let alone how to distinguish between what causes one type of migraine and not the other type of migraine. All we can really do is fight through the pain and other symptoms until the migraine passes and maybe if we are lucky we might figure out if something we are doing is specifically triggering a migraine. Or possibly one day find a better treatment plan that will help prevent or treat the migraines that we do encounter so they are not as frequent or as long lasting.

Do you have multiple types of migraines?

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.


  • kitkat2255
    7 months ago

    I also have the throbbing type of migraine that makes it impossible to sleep. It is secondary to my normal, chronic migraine headache on the right side. when I have the throbbing headache, I can hear it in my head, and it worsens when I lie down, and sometimes gets so loud it will awaken me from sleep. No doctor has been able to explain this phenomenon.

  • mammapeaches (Susan McManus)
    7 months ago

    Great article! I definitely get different types of migraines. Yesterday, I was nauseas but my phenergan helped with that. I had mild pain, but my biggest symptom was brain fog. I was subbing in our elementary school yesterday and had trouble grading 2nd grade papers!! I hate feeling so “dumb”, but prefer that to the ones I usually get which come with the pain.

  • babsmurdock
    7 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this article! I just had this migraine that gave me insomnia yesterday! I was so worried that it would cause worse pain and so frustrated that I couldn’t sleep as I was hoping to actually be able to able to spend time with a dear friend of mine later that night. I finally did get sleep and went out.

    Most of my migraines are on my right side and throbbing by my temple. I get numbness behind my ear.

    Sometimes I get lots of pain behind the eyes. Sinus pain and bad headaches. I have serious light sensitivity.

  • DinaMay
    7 months ago

    Yes, I have multiple types of migraines. Usually the pain centers behind my right eye, which goes along with having trouble with language and it affects my leg side. Sometimes I have an aura beforehand which seems to be in the lower left part of my visual field. Nowadays I pretty much have no choice but to go to bed with this monster and stay there for however many hours or days it takes to do its worst.

    Then there’s the rare beast that attacks the left side of my head and generally wreaks less havoc than that first guy. The worst thing with this type is that I feel semi-normal, so I don’t go to bed, but carry on as if nothing was happening. After just a couple of hours or so, this lefty leaves. That’s when I start discovering the nutty mistakes I made while that Thing was chewing on me. Evidently I can’t think straight during this type even though I think at the time that I can.

    There’s a third one that only makes an appearance once in a blue moon. This one acts like a stroke. I lose the ability to talk, walk, or even stand up. Years ago, I’d usually end up at the ER with this type. They’d do a bunch of tests on the assumption that I was having a stroke. But so far at least, it’s “only” been a migraine. This one hits me hard enough that I have to spend a day or so in bed even after the pain subsides.

    The oddest bird is the migraine-without-pain. When I’m hurting, I wish that this pain free version would take over completely. But it’s not benign. I have the same brain fog, difficulty talking, dragging leg, and clumsy fingers that go with the most common monster. I just don’t have the pain. So I still can’t accomplish anything. But I don’t think of going to bed to wait this one out. Because I can only recognize this fellow in hindsight. I’m so addled during the attack, I don’t realize it’s a migraine.

    It’s my opinion these are all one phenomenon. But I haven’t bothered journaling to check if triggers differ. I guess I’m disillusioned with the whole trigger business. I can be so careful to avoid triggers that I feel like I’m living in a straight jacket and I’ll still get migraines. And sometimes I throw caution to the wind and just enjoy, figuring this experience will be worth the price in migraine. And then unaccountably I won’t get that migraine after all!

    Is everyone as fed up with this migraine business as I am?

  • RobinfromCA
    7 months ago


    I am with you on being just sick of trying to figure out what could have possibly triggered whatever version is going on in my head. (I am even more tired of people asking me “What do you think caused it?”) I will also sometimes just throw caution to the wind and do what I want anyway. Earlier this summer I wanted to go to a concert. I haven’t been to one in years but I really wanted to go and I just said “The heck with it, let’s go!” We had a great time and I paid a heavy price for it later that night and the next couple of days but at least I had a fun experience for a couple of hours! Yea, me! Best reason ever for my dumb head pain! Since it appears breathing can cause a migraine I may as well breathe in a fun place once in awhile.

  • skipper
    7 months ago

    Steven, thanks for the article. It’s helpful for me to know that someone else struggles with the difficulty of distinguishing one thing from another. I am amazed at how much insight other posters have regarding their triggers and descriptions. I am so clueless. @DinaMay, thanks for your detailed post. I’ve been baffled by many strange symptoms and the limitations they’ve imposed on my life. None of it made any sense until recently, with a diagnosis of chronic migraine. Thanks to the online contributions of so many others, I am putting the pieces together and building a picture of what I call the “neurological defect” named migraine. We have to be good engineers to live life with so many hurdles, and we have to be our own heroes in order to cope with everything, and on top of it all, to cope with the disbelief of others.

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