Migraines are a huge pain; they affect over 13 million adults and as many as 3 percent of children. While we don’t know exactly why some people get Migraines and others do not, we are aware of some things that might trigger Migraine attacks. One of those triggers is spending time on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Here are three potential screen-related Migraine triggers:
Eye strain is one of the ways that digital devices can trigger a Migraine attack. This is not true for everyone with Migraine, but it is definitely true for our daughter. Staring at a screen all day can be really hard on your eyes so be sure to limit screen time, look away from the screen periodically, take breaks, and be sure you are wearing your glasses if you have a prescription.
Another issue that can cause problems for some people with Migraine is the artificial light from the computers, phones, and TV screens. While it is not known how these lights can trigger Migraine attacks, there is enough anecdotal information out there to suggest that there is a connection. Our neurologist suggests that our daughter limit her screen time to under three hours per day.
The blue light put off by electronics also tends to mess with our circadian rhythms by reducing melatonin levels and causing poor sleep. Poor sleep is a trigger for many people with Migraine, because sleep is your brain’s time to rest and re-set. Ideally, you should turn off your digital devices two to three hours before bed. Alternatively, use devices that provide the option to switch to red light at night; red light has the least power to suppress melatonin. There are also apps and glasses that can filter blue light.
Most of us don’t exhibit the best posture when we sit at our computers. Being hunched over or having to reach for the keyboard can all cause pain and tension in the tendons and ligaments of the body. Neck strain especially can trigger Migraine attacks. Check out the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggestions on proper posture while at your computer.
Eliminating screens completely is just about impossible in this day and age, so finding ways to moderate the effects of digital devices is key.
If you find that any of these issues are triggering your Migraines, it is important to speak with your neurologist about the best ways to address these problems. You may also need to speak with someone at your school or workplace about accommodations that can be made.
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Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.