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Cookies and milk…and unplug.

We’ve all done it. Tried weird and crazy things in the hope of combating our personal war against migraine. Over the years, I have tried to monitor my actions more than my intake of food or drink in an effort to control my migraine attacks. For me, it is mostly activity and physical stressors on my head that trigger migraine. Anything from laughing too hard, to exercise, to lifting heavy packages can do it for me. So I’ve decided to be gentle on my head, and everything in it.

Any one of us who uses a smartphone or tablet has surely plopped ourselves into bed staring into that screen for what we think is enjoyment. Checking our Facebook, or YouTube. Looking at pix on Instagram, or following our favorite celebrities on Twitter. We’ve all heard ‘no computers in bed’. But this isn’t work, it’s fun. What harm could watching Vine videos do. For me, plenty.

Mornings are tough for me, the scariest part of my day. I know from the split second I open my eyes if it will be a migraine day or not. I monitor my daily activities religiously to do whatever I can today to avoid that migraine tomorrow. Several weeks ago, while faithfully adhering to my migraine prevention rituals, I was waking up with migraine 3 and 4 days in a row. I was beside myself. I knew I was doing everything right to prevent that migraine and avoid my triggers How could it possible be that I’m waking up with one. I run down the list of all the previous days’ triggers and there were none so how in the world could it be that I’m having a migraine at the start of the day???!!!

That night, like I do every night, I was setting my alarm on my cell phone and like I do every night took a stroll down Twitter lane and a quick look at Facebook while laying in bed and then I felt it. An ever so mild sensation at the back of my right eye (which is where most of my migraines begin). A very faint wave of nausea came over me, almost undiscerable, and immediately I panicked because I recognized that migraine moment. I quickly put my phone down, turned out the lights and tried calmly to fall asleep. But it was too late. The damage was done. I awoke with a migraine.

Sure enough, after I analyzed my activities of the previous nights, I realized I was looking at my smartphone or tablet before sleeping each of those nights before waking with a migraine. It all started to make sense. I may not realize it but I must be straining my eyes coupled with the position of my head or neck, tack on the ‘blue light’, you’ve got the perfect storm. A migraine is like a sleeping bear somewhere in my head, and there I am poking it.

I’ve made some other observations which may support the unplugging to avoid migraine phenomenon. I work in a school setting. The ages of the children range from 3 to 18 and I am shocked at how many parents I speak with that tell me about their young children’s migraines. How can it be that an 8-year old boy has such severe migraines that he is hospitalized. Another boy of 12 years having migraines for several consecutive days with such severe pain and vomitting that all he can do is stay in his dark, quiet bedroom until it passes. Then there is the 16-year old girl whose migraines cause her to blackout. And there are more. I’m convinced it is due to tech device usage. It’s the only common denominator. Look around, people of all ages are plugged in. Babies in carriage who can barely walk on their own have their special kiddie carrying case for their tablet.

Of course, it is impossible for us to do without these devices and I’m not foolish enough to think any of us can unplug for an extended period of time. But, if you are a migraineur, you know ANYTHING is worth a try. Make a point of not looking at your device before you go to bed. Especially avoid doing so while laying down. And turn down the brightness at night as well. If it works, then pass it on to those you love. If it doesn’t, then pass it on to those you dislike immensely.

We are creatures of habit and this is one tough habit to break, but for me, it has made a tremendous difference in how I feel the next day. It’s not such a big deal to unplug before bedtime. Fear not, oh addicts of the internet. It will all still be there tomorrow.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Migraineprisoner,

    Thank you for posting this. I have over the last few months made a habit of not looking at screens after a certain time of night. I’ve had very few migraines in that time (though it’s hard to tell cause and effect), and I also just feel more relaxed. I am no longer “allowed” to check email or so-called relax looking at my phone. I’ve started reading again, too. I really love it. Hee is a great article the Migraine Girl wrote about unplugging at night: http://migraine.com/blog/2-week-challenge-better-sleep-can-go-screen-free-8pm/
    And here is another she wrote about iPhone screens: http://migraine.com/blog/iphone-screens/

    Be well,
    Lisa

  • migraineprisoner author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the additional info. I’m glad to be part of a community that is so supportive of each other.

  • Sarah
    4 years ago

    I agree 100%! Only my issue is less the migraine and more the inability to sleep…which then can trigger a migraine attack. I set a rule last week (after having a couple of bad nights, then a good night, then a couple of bad nights again…) that all technology would be off at 22:30 for me…TVs, computers, tablets. I don’t have a smart phone and text with friends later in the evening, so my phone is not on that list. When I fully enforce it, it seems to be working pretty well. Fortunately, while last week was a rough week for sleeping, I had weekend plans with a friend who has no issues with taking things at my speed. I spend the weekend away from home, with nothing to worry about…and restart my system. And sometimes I feel bad because he doesn’t want to wake me when I’m actually sleeping well…so he doesn’t and we don’t always get to whatever we have planned…but then he takes note of how exhausted I am later and tells me to go take a nap if I need it…and I’m reminded that it doesn’t bother him and I’m blessed to have such a great friend. And…I totally went off on a tangent. LOL. But yes…unplugging seems to be the key for me sleeping earlier at night, most nights. If I could go to bed at when the sun goes down, maybe my system would be even happier…but it was dark last night at 17:45….so, ummmm…no.

  • migraineprisoner author
    4 years ago

    You are absolutely right. It is not just the smartphone, but laptops and tablets as well. I do not have trouble with the TV but I believe that is because it is much farther away from my eyes and that is what seems to be the issue. Proximity to our eyes, the hyper-focusing or shifting back and forth. You are smart to know to take things at your own speed. I do the same and those who are my friends know that about me, accept it, and work with me. My circle of friends has become smaller due to migraine but that is by choice, and it works just fine for me. Good luck, and get some sleep.

  • Jenn Lebowitz
    4 years ago

    Hi migraineprisoner!

    Wow, what a story! Thank you so much for posting here. It sounds like you’re certainly onto something – and it makes sense considering photophobia and migraine (http://migraine.com/?s=photophobia&submit=Go).

    Thanks again for sharing – you definitely have a skill for creating great descriptions!!!

    Best,

    Jenn (Community Manager, Migraine.com)

  • migraineprisoner author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the boost, I truly appreciate it. I have found over my many years and a migraineur that we are a somewhat desperate community…by that I mean we are desperate to learn anything we can that may work for us in controlling our migraines. As with many migraineurs, my tricks and workarounds have changed over the years. Whether that is due to age or tolerance level, I am not sure. But the fact remains that what worked for me at 30 does not work for me now at NOT-30. I also believe in approaching my migraine lot in life with a certain degree of levity. It has become a survival tactic, and it works for me. Thanks, again.

  • Lnsu78
    4 years ago

    That pain behind the eye, yep you’ve described it! It’s so hard to break the addiction to social media and phone time. My recent addiction is to a game. I make little rules for myself like only looking at my phone when I’m in the bathroom. It helps some… I really like to listen to audio books and cross stitch at night to give my eyes a break. Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it!

  • migraineprisoner author
    4 years ago

    Addiction is the correct word, and gaming may be the worst of them all given the speed at which the game moves. Eyes are constantly and swiftly shifting in your head…mine are throbbing just at the thought of it. I think the larger the screen the less pressure on the eyes. If you must ‘game’ then perhaps do so on the largest screen you have. At least there is no chance of it falling into the toilet.

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