Clock clutches its face as it wakes up again in the middle of the night

Waking Up With Migraines Is Not My Dream Experience

Standing on the beach, Chris Pine was telling me the funniest story about his latest movie. I was doubled over laughing when I felt a sharp pain squeeze the side of my head. That's when I noticed a circus clown flying by my head — I was dreaming. But the part about my pain was no dream. I woke up with a migraine. (True story)

A dream turned migraine nightmare

As I woke up and the vision of Chris Pine on the beach faded away, the hot pain in my head came into focus. Getting a migraine is never fun, but waking up to one already in progress is the worst. It usually means I've missed the window of opportunity for my relief medicine to work.

What triggered the attack?

I stayed in bed and assessed my pain. I thought about how unfair it was waking up with a migraine. If I'd been awake, I'd be able to recognize those first signs and take steps to avoid it—like a hot shower or drinking some caffeine. What could possibly trigger a migraine while I was sleeping? It's not like I decided to exercise or have a glass of wine in my sleep — both of which can bring on a migraine faster than I can say, "Cheers!"

An abortive wouldn't help

When it was obvious my boiling head pain wasn't a dream, I took my sumatriptan. I hoped there might still be time to send my migraine back to dreamland, but most times waking up with a migraine meant I was stuck with it.

Routine nighttime attacks

Over the years, nighttime migraines have become part of my pattern. I've tried some preventive measures to stop their frequency - from bite guards to different types of pillows, but nothing has provided significant relief.

Giving a bite guard a try

A headache specialist suggested the bite guard because she noticed my jaw seemed tight. Jaw clenching while sleeping can cause migraines, so off to a jaw specialist I went. My bite guard (or nite guard) was fitted especially for me. I was to sleep with this in my mouth to help release tension and cushion the muscles in my jaw. While this treatment can be successful for a lot of migraineurs, after trying it out for several years, I understood it wasn't the key to relieving my symptoms.

Giving neck pillows a try

Along with the bite guard, I tried different supportive neck pillows. I hoped they would support my head and neck, and I'd stop waking with head pain. None made a difference, but through this trial and error, I did figure out one trick that helped: sleeping slightly elevated. When I slept on a flatter pillow, my nighttime migraines increased. When I slept at a slight upward angle, they lessened somewhat. Not a cure, but I'd take it!

Right now, waking with a migraine is part of my migraine experience. I have noticed my migraine patterns continue to shift so, who knows? Maybe one day, my nighttime migraines won't be a thing. A girl can dream, right?

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