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Lucidity whilst trying to sleep through an attack

The first thing that I want to do when I get those diamond solitaires dancing in font of my eyes is head for bed. I need to lay down in the dark. I am usually freezing cold, nauseous and have numbness in my limbs. All I can do is close my eyes, try to breathe deeply and concentrate on trying to get to sleep.

Sleep is my only chance of relief. Unfortunately I am one of those people for whom abortive meds do not work. Painkillers don’t even scratch the surface. It is difficult but not impossible to get into a trance like state followed by sleep.

However the quality of sleep is not good nor is it refreshing. The migraine is still in charge of my brain. I am still aware that it is going on. Often I feel like I am out of my body, I have felt or dreamed that I am on the floor next to the bed trying to get into my body. In my dream/trance I try to get up but my legs just fold underneath me. Its like my brain is telling me that the migraine has taken over and my body must stay in this trance because it will not function properly whilst the migraine is still active. It is almost like lucid dreaming because I know I am having a migraine and I know I am asleep but I am willing my body to work. When I wake up I am exhausted.

Does anyone else experience this strange state of consciousness whilst trying to sleep through a migraine attack?

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.


  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story. I encourage you to mention this to your doctor, especially if it’s a new symptom. Sleep is such an issue for most Migraineurs. If you’ve never had a sleep study done, you might consider it. It could unlock some answers for you.

    I also wanted to share with you that not all auras are the same. Most people think of an aura as flashing lights in a zigzag shape. But there are many kinds of aura including one called the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, which sounds similar to what you experience.

    Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: a rare form of Migraine aura in which the distinctive symptom is a type of metamorphosia, a distortion of body image and perspective, which Migraineurs know, while it’s occurring is not real. “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome can occur at any age, but it is more commonly experienced by children.

    Here’s more info on the different types of auras:


  • MarniM
    5 years ago

    I, too, experience those types of dreams when I have a terrible migraine. It’s like even though I’m sleeping my body is very much aware of the pain.

  • Claire Bisson author
    5 years ago

    Thanks for your feedback Shani and Susan. It is true that only those who experience this torture know and understand it. I think that one of the reasons that I feel so Tired and drained after a migraine attack is because this “sleep” that we are experiencing throughout, is not real sleep at all. It is our bodies trying to spare us the pain in the best way it can. Unfortunately once the or pain phase has gone we then need REAL sleep to restore ourselves.

  • Shani
    5 years ago

    Me too. So perfectly said. Another thing I’ve just noticed myself doing is or maybe “being” is my body being so tense. Laying there just tense unable to relax having to consciously will my body to breathe and relax.

    I hate being in the “torture chamber” praying for sleep hoping that if only you can get to sleep you won’t throw up the meds and give them a chance to work only to wake up with the beast still there. It’s not really sleep it’s twisted breaks of time puncuated by stabbing pain and searing nausea.

  • susan
    5 years ago

    Perfectly described..I do the same. You think If I can just sleep and pass time but I seem to be and feel the pain no matter……….and when you look at the clock it’s like you may have been in a torture chamber for hours or minutes..exhausted and think if i can just sleep pain free I will feel rested…but it doesn’t happen. I wake up with the hangover once it breaks or just keep falling in and out of a state of sleep with all of me still feeling the migraine…so hard to explain but you did..very well. My husband thinks that because i am sleeping it’s a good thing…what he can’t understand is what a nightmare it is to even doze off…I so many times dream that I am in fact laying in a pool of blood…I always hear the blood rushing and pulsing in my head and ears…..This usually goes on for about 7 to 9 hours and then it breaks just as if it was a fever…Wears and drains everything out of you….and Thank you again…So many time I thought I was alone..unique….damaged.

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