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How To Fall Asleep With A Migraine

How Is Migraine Connected To The Sleep

How To Fall Asleep Super Fast (With Or Without Pain) Dr. Mandell

For anyone suffering from migraines, its important to know that this health condition is connected to the sleep-wake cycle . This is an internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. If your sleep-wake cycle is disturbed, this can influence migraines in a number of ways. For example, sleeping too much or too little can trigger migraines. Researchers have highlighted that, for 49.8% of the migraine sufferers they looked at, sleep disturbance was a trigger for a migraine attack.

Also, if you are already suffering from a migraine and then go to sleep without treating it, this can worsen the condition, leading to more unpleasant symptoms when you wake up. The relationship between migraines and the circadian rhythm is often a vicious cycle. Migraines can disturb the sleep-wake cycle, stopping you from getting the rest you truly need, which can make the symptoms more severe or increase the risk of further migraines.

In the following article, we will explore how migraines are connected to the sleep-wake cycle, how poor sleep can trigger migraines, why migraines start when we sleep, and finally offer some essential sleep tips for migraine patients. By adjusting your lifestyle slightly and getting into a routine of good quality sleep, you can manage your migraine symptoms and reduce your chances of subsequent attacks.

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Headaches Hindering Your Sleep How To Snooze When Migraines Strike

Cluster headaches, tension headaches, migraines, sinus headaches headaches come in all different shapes and sizes and can vary greatly. But they all have one thing in commontheyre always a real pain!

Night-time headaches in particular can be the worst.

Youve made it through a long day and are finally ready to unwind and hit the sack when

All of a sudden

You get slammed with an excruciating headache! That peaceful sleep that you were so looking forward to is feeling more and more impossible thanks to your night-time headache.

Night-time headaches like this can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep, leaving you exhausted and crabby the next day.

And since lack of sleep can actually trigger headaches, night-time headaches that cause you to lose sleep are often the start of a vicious cycle.

But how are you supposed to fall asleep with that throbbing pain in your head? And what can you do to avoid night-time headache pain in the future?

To help ease the pain of your night-time headaches, weve gathered up the best ways to treat a headache at bedtime once it hits. Plus, well share some tips for avoiding future headaches that disrupt your sleep.

Take Melatonin For A Sweeter Slumber

And here we were dissing on sleep aids just now.

Melatonin isnt a sleep aid, necessarily its a hormone.

Melatonin naturally occurs in the body. That means its already in your system. Taking an extra dose of it through pill form helps you get to sleep and resets your circadian rhythm in the process.

In fact, taking Melatonin on a regular basis when youre head isnt about to split open is recommended if youre serious about becoming a sleep enthusiast.

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Keep Your Bedroom Dark

When it comes to getting a good nights sleep and managing a headache, darkness is your friend. Many people find that theyre more sensitive to light when they have a headache, and extra light exposure can also impede your sleep.

Keep your bedroom as dark as possible, especially if youre trying to fall asleep with a headache. Dont turn on the TV, switch off all the lamps, and close the blinds. If you need to block out any stray light thats making its way in, try wearing an eye mask, too.

Avoiding Caffeine And Alcohol

Anyone else do this trying to fall asleep with a migraine ...

Avoid these substances when preparing to go to bed. Caffeine being a stimulant excites your brain, so you become more active. In other instances, caffeine can be effective remedying a headache when taken alongside pain-relieving medication. It has a downside to it, though.

Caffeine narrows the blood vessels around the head to relieve pain. The pain might come back more robust due to the blood vessels widening, especially when you’re asleep. That’s why it’s advisable to keep off coffee.

The effectiveness of caffeine alone is majorly visible on hypnic headaches. Since you may not know when it will attack, ensure you have coffee ready as a remedy. You want to go to sleep as fast as possible after the episode, which can last up to 3 hours if not remedied hence losing a good night’s sleep.

Alcohol, on the other hand, might cause sleep disruption as you keep waking up. This tends to reduce overall sleep quality. Alcohol contains a chemical known as histamine. In addition to that, it causes the body to manufacture more histamine, exacting inflammatory effects on the body.

Ethanol in Alcohol is also a natural diuretic converted by the body to produce chemicals that trigger migraines. Avoid dark-colored Alcohol such as red wine and whiskey as they may cause more potential damage.

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How Can I Prevent Future Migraines

It is clear the interaction between sleep and migraines is both complicated and sensitive. Since both too little and too much sleep have been associated with migraines and other headache disorders, one of the most important ways to combat these problems is to get the right amount of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation guidelines recommends adults sleep between 7-8 hours per night for optimum health, while younger people may need more sleep. Additionally, to make sure you are getting the most restful sleep, it is essential to practice good sleep hygiene. The following are just a few tips that can help you develop and maintain a healthy sleep routine.

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It’s The Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Cycle That Provokes Migraines

Doctor Vincent Fortanasce says it’s the REM sleep stage that provokes migraines.

Dr. Fortanasce is a Los Angeles-based neurologist, psychiatrist, and author of the Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription. He says that REM sleep can provoke your most powerful migraine about five to six hours after sleep begins.

He says that most of us go through about six sleep cycles with about four stages of sleep, plus rapid eye movement sleep. The deepest stages of sleep are necessary for the production of sufficient serotonin and dopamine, both neurotransmitters.

These neurotransmitters are the “feel good” chemical messengers in the brain, and both depend on adequate sleep a decrease in serotonin and dopamine is associated with poor sleep or sleep problems.

One reason for waking with migraines is that REM sleep is most powerful just before awakening. Sleep problems can then trigger migraines by causing instability of serotonin and a lowering of dopamine levels.

Antidepressants, specifically the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , may help stabilize serotonin membranes and block migraines. These medications are sometimes used as migraine treatment.

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Tips For Sleeping With Headaches

Now lets take a look at some of the tips for sleeping with headaches. If you suffer from narcolepsy and you want to sleep peacefully at night with a headache, there are essential sleep routines you have to adopt.

This involves what you need to do before, during, and after sleep. To avoid poor sleep, which might lead to other disorders brought as a result of sleep deprivation, such as frequent insomnia, ensure that your sleep hygiene is on point.

These practices involve

Additional File : Figure 1

Calming sounds to fall asleep faster/White noise for Insomnia & Migraine/Fall asleep deeply

Acute sleep deprivation: Duration of first CSD. Duration of the first CSD was not reduced after 12h or 6h of sleep deprivation. Each circle represents the results of an individual rat. All controls were pooled for statistical analysis, as no significant difference was found between the two control groups. Figure 2. Acute sleep deprivation: Cumulative duration of CSDs. Cumulative duration of CSDs was not reduced after 12h or 6h of sleep deprivation. Each circle represents the results of an individual rat. All controls were pooled for statistical analysis, as no significant difference was found between the two control groups. Figure 3. Duration of first CSD and cumulative duration of CSDs in VLPO-lesioned rats. Duration of first CSD and cumulative duration of CSDs upon topical continuous KCl were not altered in rats after chronic sleep deprivation, 6 or 12weeks after lesioning of the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus. The x-axis indicates the number of intact VLPO neurons after the lesioning procedure. Each circle represents the results of an individual rat. The number of VLPO neurons for sham animals was set to 800.

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Certain Medications Or Supplements

Headaches are also a side effect of some over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. While you may want to take medication for the head pain, that can contribute to a cycle of chronic headaches. Alternatively, overnight withdrawal from the drug can trigger a headache in the morning.

Drugs that can contribute to headaches include:

  • Opioids

Try Changing Your Pillow Or Position

While sleeping positions are often set and difficult to change, sleeping on your side or back is better than sleeping on your stomach, explains the doctor.

Do this: Avoid hard or stiff pillows. If you sleep on your stomach, try a flatter pillow. If sleep on your back, choose an ergonomic pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck, she advises.

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What Causes A Migraine

The cause of migraines is not definitively known, but there are many associated factors that have a correlation with them. Its thought that there are connections between genetics and migraines, suggesting a hereditary link.

Its also likely that the causes of a migraine are personal to the individual.

Common migraine triggers can include the following:

  • Hunger
  • Make your sleeping environment dark, at a comfortable temperature, and peaceful
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol if trying to sleep with or without a migraine
  • Turn off your phone – when migraines make you sensitive to light and sound, the last thing you need is a glowing, buzzing distraction machine next to your bed!

For many of us, sleeping can be difficult at the best of times, but when a migraine strikes its even more important for us to hit the hay.

If youre having continuous trouble with migraines or your sleep, it may be advisable to see a doctor to get some further advice.

Does Sleep Deprivation Cause Migraines

The Solution That Ended My 20

Research has long established a relationship between sleeping problems and headache disorders, including migraines, tension-type headache, and the less common cluster headache and hypnic headache. However, those who experience migraines in particular are more likely to suffer from insufficient sleep than those with other headache disorders. In addition to increasing the risk for migraines, sleep deprivation has also been shown to increase the severity and frequency of migraine.

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When To Call 911

Get emergency help in the following cases:

  • Your headache is more painful and extensive than any in the past.
  • The onset of the headache is much more rapid than usual.
  • Youre experiencing problems speaking and having sudden vision problems.
  • You have numbness, weakness, or issues with movement and/or balance.

In addition, the following cases may not constitute an emergency but warrant a call to the doctor:

  • The general pattern of your headaches has changed.
  • Treatments and/or medications are no longer effective.
  • Your medications are causing side effects.
  • Youve started taking birth control.
  • You need pain medications three or more days a week.
  • Your head pain gets worse when you lie down.

Having A Migraine Doesnt Mean Restless Nights

Many migraine sufferers feel that getting a quality nights sleep is an impossible mission but youre not helpless by committing to good sleeping habits, quality sleep is possible

Remember: the best way to alleviate the pain from migraines is to get some quality sleep!

“About Migraine.” Migraine Research Foundation, Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.

Rains, Jeanetta PhD. Sleep Disorders and Headache.” American Migraine Foundation, Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.

American Headache Society. REM sleep deprivation plays a role in chronic migraine. Science Daily, 23 Jun. 2010,

The Headache Center of Atlanta. “Headache and sleep: examination of sleep patterns and complaints in a large clinical sample of migraineurs.” Headache, Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.

“Stress.” National Headache Foundation, Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.

“The Ideal Temperature for Sleep.”, Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. “Caffeine as a risk factor for chronic daily headache: a population-based study.” Neurology, 14 Dec. 2004,

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How Can I Stop Them

  • Improve your sleep. “In many cases, if we can get people sleeping better, that’s good for a variety of headache types,” Rosenberg says. “We think it’s good for tension headaches, too.”
  • If you have trouble sleeping at night:

    • Don’t nap during the day.
    • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and large meals close to bedtime.
    • If you can’t sleep, get out of bed. Do something quiet in low light somewhere else until you get sleepy.
    • Keep your phone, tablet, or laptop out of the bed. The screen’s light can trick your body into thinking the sun is still up and keep you awake. It’s also a bad habit to watch movies, text, or read online when you’re in bed.
    • Get up and go to bed at the same times each day.
  • Curb stress. Smart ways to do so include:
  • Breathing exercises. Sit or lie down with your eyes closed. Take several long, slow, deep breaths. Get your lungs to fill and your belly to rise. Then breathe out slowly, and repeat.

    Meditation. This is simply turning your attention to your breath, a word, an image, or something else that you choose to focus on. Other thoughts will come up. That’s OK. Try not to get wrapped up in them. Just let them go.

    It’s not about being a mellow person or following any particular faith. And it doesn’t matter what type of meditation you do, Rosenberg says. They all help. Experiment and find a form that works for you.

  • Medications. You can get relief from an occasional tension headache, Rosenberg says, by taking:
  • Sleep And Migraine: Assessment And Treatment Of Comorbid Sleep Disorders

    When reading do you get headaches/fall asleep?

      Center for Sleep Evaluation, Elliot Hospital, Manchester, NH, USA

      Address all correspondence to J.C. Rains, Center for Sleep Evaluation, Elliot Hospital, 185 Queen City Avenue, Manchester, NH 03101, USA, email:

        Center for Sleep Evaluation, Elliot Hospital, Manchester, NH, USA

        Address all correspondence to J.C. Rains, Center for Sleep Evaluation, Elliot Hospital, 185 Queen City Avenue, Manchester, NH 03101, USA, email:

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        The Five Stages Of Sleep

        There are five stages of sleep: two stages of light sleep, two stages of deep sleep, and then one stage of REM sleep. If youre healthy and have normal sleep patterns, then you will go through this cycle four or five times during the night. The REM stage of sleep is concentrated in the second half of the night and its where we spend most of our sleep cycle. If you dont get enough sleep, then you dont get enough REM sleep. When you sleep less than 6 hours a night, you will spend more time in the first half of sleep, experiencing less REM sleep overall.

        Why Am I Waking Up With A Migraine

        Theres a close relationship between sleep and migraines. Disruptions in your natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, can trigger attacks, and, in turn, migraines can interrupt your sleep patterns. Its little wonder that those with sleep disorders are more likely to experience this condition.

        Disruptions in sleep due to several disorders can be at the root of your morning migraine, including:

        • Insomnia: This disorder is characterized by an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This is because both insomnia and migraine may be due to the activity of some of the same brain regions and neurotransmitters.
        • Obstructive sleep apnea:Interrupted breathing while youre asleep characterizes this condition. It can cause snoring, cold sweats, sudden waking, and excessive nighttime urination.
        • Teeth grinding:If you grind your teeth at night, a condition called bruxism, muscular pain around the temporomandibular jointthe hinge that connects your jaw to the skullcan cause headaches to flare up.

        Though they can happen at any time of day, migraines most commonly arise in the morning hours, between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Whats behind your morning migraine attack? Several factors may be at play.

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        The Link Between Sleep And Migraines

        According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine sufferers are 2-8 times more likely to experience difficulty sleeping .

        What causes migraines vary between individuals, but both migraines and sleep share an anatomical connection. They both begin down in the brainstem and spread up the thalamus, hypothalamus, and cortex.

        Its through this shared pathway that scientists are starting to find common connections that sleep and migraines share.

        Chronic migraines are often a result of REM sleep deprivation, according to the American Headache Society . Being sleep deprived changes the levels of key proteins, which play a central role in the formation of migraines.

        Tracking Your Migraine Symptoms

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        Keeping a record of your migraine symptoms may help you figure out patterns and triggers to your attacks. It may be helpful to record such things as:

        • When and where your pain or symptoms start
        • Whether the pain spreads to your entire head or neck
        • How well and how quickly acute treatment helps reduce the pain or other symptoms
        • How long your pain or symptoms last
        • Whether you experience other symptoms such as vision changes, nausea, or light sensitivity

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