It’s a knotty issue – sleep and migraines. Too little sleep can be a migraine trigger, but on the other hand, too much sleep can also be a migraine trigger. So what should you do to get the sleep you need in order to ward off a migraine attack.
First off, keep it regular. Try and go to bed and get up at the same time each day (even on weekends). Irregular sleep interferes with your body’s natural rhythm and its ability to reach the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) level of sleep.
When your body reaches this NREM sleep it is able to action various processes such as regulation of the immune system, memory processing and metabolic processing. Of particular interest to migraine sufferers may be the fact that it also allows for regulatory effects to take place on the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system in charge of controlling things such as the vascular system. Many types of migraines have been linked to changes within the vascular system, so since NREM sleep helps to regulate blood pressure and blood flow, including blood flow within the brain, it’s very important to get to this sleep level.
It’s been made clear thanks to many scientific studies that it’s not only the time which is spent sleeping which is important, but also the quality of the sleep. With that in mind, here are some of the things which have been recommended as things you can do to improve your sleep quality:
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine before bed
- Don’t do activities like watching TV, studying or reading in bed
- Make sure that your pillow is right – it should be just the right degree of plumpness so that when your head is laid on it, it can keep your spine in a straight line
- Keep away from TV, phone and computer screens for an hour before bedtime
- Try to spend some time outdoors or in natural light each day