Healthy Habits for Migraine Sufferers with Insomnia

Martin Reed | Mar 3rd 2016 Apr 10th 2017

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Migraine sufferers are part of a growing group of individuals who struggle with sleep due to chronic pain. This type of insomnia has recently been dubbed ‘painsomnia’ – if you’re one of its victims, here is some helpful information and advice.

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The vicious cycle

Migraine comes with a number of non-pain symptoms such as vertigo and sensory overload. The onset and duration of migraine symptoms are not always predictable, but they can be disabling. Such intense symptoms can prevent sleep, which can lead to frustration, stress, and possibly make symptoms worse – continuing the cycle.

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Consider melatonin supplements

Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical your brain produces to allow your body to fall asleep, but sometimes your body needs assistance. Melatonin is not habit forming, but its effectiveness decreases with frequent use - so week-long breaks every month or so to reset your system is recommended. Talk with your pharmacist or doctor to determine if melatonin is right for you.

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Put away electronics

Studies show that the blue light emitted from electronic screens can trick the brain into thinking it is daytime by suppressing melatonin production, keeping you awake. Visual stimulus can also trigger pain and neurological symptoms. No matter how tempting it is to scroll through your Twitter feed while laying in bed during a migraine attack, that screen is only making the problem worse.

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Avoid caffeine

Some migraine sufferers find caffeine useful in reducing the effects of an attack. It’s even listed as a primary component in some medications. However, the chemical aggravates some people’s migraine symptoms. Caffeine withdrawal is a headache trigger, too. Remember that caffeine is a stimulant so avoid consuming it in any form as sleep time approaches.

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Develop stress-free habits

Stress plays a physiological role in affecting hormone changes, which can trigger migraines and cause insomnia. For those who are not on a treatment regimen, there are healthy lifestyle changes that help: Long walks, cycling and yoga can help reduce stress and improve your health. Remember that our physical and mental health are closely linked!

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Stay hydrated all day

Dehydration is a known migraine trigger – but try to avoid drinking liquids in the hours before bedtime to avoid waking during the night to use the bathroom.

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Avoid alcohol at night

Alcohol dehydrates, disrupts sleep, and can trigger a morning migraine. Once the body begins processing the alcohol in the blood stream, it even creates a stimulant effect.

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Expert tip:

Developing healthy habits is really the key to fighting migraine-induced insomnia. Changing habits can be hard work, but it will save you from excessive pain and sleeplessness while helping you feel happier at the same time.