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When You Don’t Know What’s Triggering Your Migraines: Part 2

The two biggest questions on the mind of a person living with are:

  1. What is causing my migraines?
  2. How do I get them to go away asap?

In Part 1 of this series we explored how to identify your food triggers with the elimination diet. Now it’s time to dive into lifestyle triggers.

Stress management

We know that stress-related ailments drive the majority of doctor’s appointments. Migraines are no exception to that statistic.

Stress can trigger both the frequency and intensity of a migraine. In fact, a 2001 study found that stress provoked migraines in 91 percent of people who suffered from both migraines with and without aura.

We also know that let-down headaches are common. This is one I experienced growing up. Every. Single. Weekend. Vacation migraines were tossed in there for good measure too.

So, what helps you best manage your stress?

What you choose doesn’t really matter. Simply find what works best for you and then add it to your schedule so you commit to a consistent practice.


A nice perk to better managing your stress is that sleep often improves as well. And when sleep improves, your overall health can improve since lack of sleep can also trigger migraines.

Generally speaking, 10 pm to 6 am are the ideal hours for sleep. But for migraine prevention what’s most important is have a consistent sleep schedule – even on the weekends. Staying up late on a Friday night and sleeping in on Saturday morning may be a recipe for your next migraine. Naps can sometimes be diruptive too.

If you find yourself frequently getting migraines on the weekend, check in with your stress levels throughout the week and the regularity of your sleep schedule.

Need help falling asleep?

As I tell my clients, if you need help falling asleep start acting like a child. As children, we’re prepped for bedtime hours before our head hits the pillow.

After dinner, there’s bath time, snuggling into comfy jammies and story time. As adults, we’re on our electronic devices – either social media or work – until it’s near midnight and then we jump into bed can’t understand why was can’t fall asleep. We’re tired and wired.

Perhaps it’s time to create a nighttime routine for yourself. Just as you set an alarm to wake yourself up in the morning, try setting an alarm to put yourself to bed. When the alarm goes off, it’s time to turn off the electronics and enjoy your stress-management practice. Make it feel indulgent! This is your time for self-care.

What lifestyle habits have you found to be most helpful in managing your migraines? Share the knowledge so we can learn from your experience too!

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.


  • DinaMay
    1 year ago

    In my experience, knowing what triggers a migraine isn’t worth it. Basically anything we sense can trigger the monster. But nothing is for sure. I usually get one when the air pressure changes before it rains but there are times when it rains and I’m fine. And other times it’s a beautiful day and I get a migraine anyhow. Typical!

    I have found that for me it’s more important to just accept that migraines are my…destiny? I get migraines. Some people have seizures. Some people have panic attacks. Etc. everyone deals with something. Migraines just happen to be my something.

    Plus, a minor note on searching for causes and triggers – even if we got answers to all our questions, migraine is a wild animal that can never be tamed. I am not in control. And that means, IT’S NOT OUR FAULT. I’m shouting that last bit, in case you couldn’t tell.

  • SkiingIsBelieving
    1 year ago

    The biggest help for me in managing and preventing migraine has been in balancing my electrolyte. Don’t brush it off! There’s lots of info out there that’s misleading. But all the things we think of as “triggers” work by the same mechanism–drawing down or imbalancing electrolyte. Hormones, stress, exercise (or lack of it), the mineral content of foods, sugar, etc. all affect electrolyte balance. That’s one reason why “triggers” can seem so random and inconsistent–they combine differently on any given day–but when cellular chemistry is off, the cascading neurological wave that is a migraine begins. Drinking my water minimum (body weight x .55 divided by 8=# of 8 oz glasses per day) and adding 1/8 tsp of salt with every other glass has helped me a ton. But it’s not that simple–sometimes you can over-salt, depending on what else is going on (barometric pressure, high salt diet to begin with, etc). I highly recommend checking out this idea though. It has turned my migraine life around. And it’s free, with no side-effects–a big win! More info here:

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