Migraine Awareness Week: 7 sleep tips for migraine sufferers


Migraines and sleep are closely linked (Picture: Getty Images)

Migraines can have a number of causes, from hormonal and emotional triggers like stress to environmental and dietary triggers like bright lights and alcohol.

One common physical trigger for migraines is tiredness and poor sleep – in fact, migraines and sleep are very closely linked.

Thankfully, people who suffer with sleep-related migraines can put some things in place to make them less likely. 

Seven sleep tips for people with migraines 

Stick to a regular sleep schedule 

Migraines can be triggered by getting either too much or too little sleep, which is why, Martin Seeley, sleep expert and CEO at MattressNextDay explains, sticking to a sleep schedule is ‘imperative.’

‘Try to go to bed at the same time each night and make sure that you switch off all electronics an hour before you actually sleep,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.

‘You may also want to do a spot of light exercise each evening before you head to bed, exercise is the best way to help tire out your body and allow for a better night’s sleep. 

‘A brisk walk, yoga or a low intensity workout in the evening can help you to feel tired and promote a good sleep.’

Create the right sleep environment 

Making sure your bedroom is a ‘sleep sanctuary’ is crucial, says Martin.

This can mean making sure the interiors are all right, the temperature is perfect and there’s no light getting in.

‘Your bedroom is for sleep, so the furnishings and environment should reflect this,’ Martin tells us. 

‘Make sure all electronics are removed, and it is cool, dark and quiet. 

‘You should also ensure your room is free from clutter as a messy room can often subconsciously make us feel stressed and anxious, which could promote migraine triggers. 

‘Try black out curtains to ensure the room is dark enough, you may also want to light scented candles, and even try a weighted blanket which can help you to feel comforted and relaxed.’

Turn off electronics  

As well as keeping electronics out of the bedroom, Martin also recommends turning them all off an hour before bedtime. 

‘This allows your brain to slowly switch off and unwind,’ he says.

‘The blue light emitted from our devices can often make us feel more wired and awake, and so scrolling on your phone right before sleep is the worst thing you can do.

‘Furthermore, if you regularly suffer from migraines then using your phone late at night is a bad idea as the light emitted from the device could trigger a migraine.’

Avoid caffeine and certain foods before bed 

‘Coffee and other caffeinated beverages should not be consumed up to 6 hours before you go to sleep,’ says Martin.

‘This is because the caffeine can stay in your system for many hours and so by the time you want to go to sleep you may still feel wide awake and wired.’

He advises any coffee lovers to drink one in the morning and one in the early afternoon, at the very latest. 

He adds: ‘I would also avoid alcohol before bed as this can often cause you to wake up in the night, which could trigger a migraine. 

‘Other foods that should be avoided before bed are chocolate, cheese, curry and crisps.’

Avoid daytime naps 

Day time naps, while they offer instant gratification, can often mess up our sleep late at night.

‘This is because you are allowing your brain and body to switch off for a period of time, so it won’t feel the need to sleep when it comes to the night time,’ says Martin.

‘Not only this, research has shown that napping can actually have adverse effects on the brain and body as oversleeping can cause headaches which could potentially trigger a migraine.’  

Try meditation techniques 

Stress is a common trigger for migraines, as well as anxiety, which can also cause bruxism.

‘Trying mind-body techniques such as meditation can actually help to relieve migraine symptoms and prevent future triggers by alleviating this underlying stress,’ says Martin.

He recommends trying 10 to 15 minutes of meditation each night, weaving it into your nighttime routine.

Switch up your bedding  

Finally, making sure you have the right bedding for you is important if you want to get good quality sleep.

‘It’s super important to understand what time of bedding suits you and your body to ensure a good night’s sleep,’ says Martin.

‘For example, having a supportive mattress and pillow which hugs the curves of your spine, neck and head will help to prevent any head pain which can cause migraines.

‘I would always advise people to try out different styles and types of bedding to make sure they find what works for them, but foam pillows are often recommended for those who suffer regularly with migraines.’

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