How to Sleep with a Migraine? 11 Effective Ways

Are you wondering, how to sleep with a migraine? If so, you’re not alone. Migraines are the most common type of headache1, and they can be really tough to live with. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best ways to sleep with a migraine.

We’ll provide you with information on the different types of migraines2, how to prevent them, and 11 effective ways to sleep with a migraine. So whether you’re looking for preventative measures or a way to get relief from your headaches, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this article.

So, to know how to sleep with a migraine, you need to know what is causing your migraine and how to treat it. Since migraines are self-diagnosed, they can be wrongly identified as well.

1. Facts of Migraine

Migraine attacks can be very tiring. Interestingly, a retrospective study on patients recruited from a neurology clinic for headaches, referred for a polysomnography3 (PSG) for a presumed sleep-related breathing disorder, reported that chronic migraine without aura was predictive of OSA presence. The treatment of OSA syndrome with continuous positive airway pressure has been associated with an improvement in sleep quality and migraine in terms of reduction of the mean frequency of attacks per month (from 5.8 to 0.1 days). You don’t need that annoying throbbing in your head when your alarm clock, and not migraines, should be the one that ruins sleep.

It is said that sleep and a healthy lifestyle play a crucial role in preventing migraines in the future. However, adults with migraine had significantly more lifetime sleep problems and more current sleep difficulties, While proper sleep is crucial for people with chronic migraine attacks4, ironically, migraines are exactly what may prevent this well-needed sleep.

2. How to Sleep with a Migraine

2.1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Migraine sufferers are often sleep-deprived because of the symptoms. Try to get a good eight hours every night if you can. Drink plenty of fluids Migraine is caused by a headache, and dehydration can make the headache worse. According to Rosen, right now, it’s not clear that the length of sleep matters as much as the quality of sleep when it comes to chronic migraine.

People suffering from migraine and sleep are significantly more likely to suffer from poor sleep quality, insomnia, and night-time fatigue. This is a wake-up call for those who get 12 hours of sleep and still do not feel refreshed. Obesity also increases the risk of chronic headaches5.

Independent of obesity, Rosen says treating snoring and sleep apnea may help chronic migraine, especially in people who wake up with a headache. Try to drink lots of water throughout the day and avoid drinks with caffeine for hours before your migraine symptoms start.

2.2. Use Headache Relief Medications 

Certain migraine medications, like over-the-counter ibuprofen or prescription medicines such as Triptan, may help relieve pain and make sleep more comfortable.

Headaches can cause disturbances in sleep, and sleep problems can trigger a migraine attack, according to a review published in January 2018 in Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders. Follow the directions on your medication label carefully though, as not all headache relief medications will work for everyone with migraines.

2.3. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

Both caffeine and alcohol can aggravate migraine symptoms6. Try to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages late in the afternoon or evening to prevent sleep problems., and limit your intake of alcohol overall. 4. Try migraine headache prevention tips If you know you’re likely to have a migraine, try to avoid certain triggers such as bright light, loud noises, and spicy food. Also, keep your schedule regular, and don’t over-exert yourself.

2.4. Get Exercise

Exercise can help improve moods for many people, including migraine sufferers. Exercise 5 /11 Don’t try it when you’re in the middle of a migraine attack, because it can make you hurt more. However, be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning an intensive workout program if you have migraines in progress or are suspected of being related to the condition.

2.5. Eat a Headache-free Meal

Migraine sufferers often find that eating a headache-free meal before bed helps improve sleep quality. A good option is chicken soup with gingerbread biscuits on the side for added flavor and migraine relief.

2.6. Make Sure Your Bedroom is Dark and Quiet

It’s important to eliminate any possible sources of headache pain before bed, such as bright light. Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet so you can get a good night’s sleep.

2.7. Use a Comfortable Pillow

Headache sufferers often strain their necks and shoulders when they sleep on poor-quality pillows. It’s best to buy a quality pillow that you can adjust to your sleeping position.

2.8. Keep a Headache Relief Kit Nearby

If your migraine symptoms flare up unexpectedly, have some headache relief medication on hand to help relieve the pain.

2.9. Use a Sleep-tracking App

A sleep-tracking app can be an invaluable tool in monitoring your migraine symptoms and determining when you’re experiencing poor sleep quality. Sleep in Migraine Migraine attacks is said to be more likely to occur between 04:00 and 09:00 am, which might suggest a timing mechanism that relates to sleep or circadian rhythms or both. This information can help identify potential triggers and provide tips for improving the quality of sleep.

2.10. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep

Migraine sufferers need at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to feel energized and focused the next day. “People at risk for obstructive sleep apnea are usually overweight and have a short neck, Moreover, it would be interesting to evaluate if obesity represents a shared risk factor for migraine and OSA, or if migraine, obstructive sleep apnea, and obesity represent the clinical manifestation of a common disorder.

The main category of sleep problems includes insomnias, parasomnias, hypersomnias, sleep-related breathing disorders, circadian rhythm disorders, sleep-related disorders, and other sleep disorders. If you’re struggling to get adequate sleep, speak with your doctor about supplements or medications that may help improve migraine symptoms.

2.11. Create an Effective Migraine Sleep Plan

Migraine sleep quality is often improved by following an effective migraine sleep plan. “Poor sleep is a common trigger for migraine headaches,” This includes ensuring that you get enough sleep, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and using headache relief medications as recommended by your doctor.

Research suggests that the association between migraine and sleep is bidirectional Migraine and sleep disorders are common and often burdensome chronic conditions with a high prevalence in the general population. Avoid using the computer in bed If you find that you’re struggling to sleep due to migraine symptoms, avoid using your computer or other electronic devices in bed. This can help reduce stimulation and decrease headache pain.

3. Symptoms of Migraine

symptoms of migraine
Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Your insomnia may also be caused by sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, which have similar symptoms to migraines. You could wake up in the middle of the night with a headache, and you might not be sure whether it’s a migraine or sleep apnea. So it would be better to make yourself aware of the symptoms of migraines.

Symptoms include light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, dizziness, blurry vision, and throbbing in the eyes, head, face, or neck. Warning signs include an aura before the migraine headaches.

Do you have frequent headaches, can’t be in the sun too long, or are you not a fan of loud sounds? You may have a migraine, so it’s best to be prepared.

Take a look at these causes and treatments:

4. Causes of Migraine

If you find yourself generally stressing a lot about work or a personal affair, you may be at risk for unprecedented attacks on your health in the form of a migraine.

Migraines may be triggered by certain factors that cause irregular brain activity, thereby disrupting nerve signals, neurotransmitters, and blood vessels in the brain.

These triggers include taking stress, drinking caffeine or alcohol, intense physical activity, loud sounds, or extremely bright lights.

The risk factors that may increase the probability of migraine are genetics, hormonal changes, increased stress levels, and smoking. So, if you have a family member or relative with a history of migraine attacks, your chances of getting a migraine7 will increase.

This will also be the case if you’re a woman because of hormonal fluctuations during and around your menstrual cycle. Don’t take up smoking or too much stress if you feel you’re prone to migraine attacks because these are also risk factors that may cause a migraine.

5. Treatment of Migraine

Treatment of Migraine
Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

So, if you feel like you may have migraine attacks, take steps to avoid them. Long-term migraine treatment includes taking preventive medications. These will reduce the frequency and incidence of migraine attacks. You can also try therapies such as Progressive muscle relaxation or Acupuncture therapy.

While these methods can help reduce the frequency of migraines, they may take time to work. You would still battle nights of migraine headaches before that, so here are a few quick remedies to get the good night’s rest you deserve.

5.1. Take Painkillers

Imagine you’re dreaming of your happy place, whether it’s soaring through the clouds with actual wings or tanning at the beach. Say you suddenly experience migraines depriving you of those precious hours of sleep. What will you do?

Taking painkillers during migraine attacks is an effective method of pain relief. As soon as you start experiencing symptoms, you can take an ordinary painkiller such as paracetamol or aspirin. However, for children under the age of 16 and adults with recurring symptoms, seeing a General Practitioner is highly recommended. Please also note that taking too many painkillers may cause additional migraines.

If you want professional help, the American migraine foundation can find you a doctor or specialist in your region! Just check out their website on treating and understanding migraines.

5.2. Use Essential Oils

Are you wondering how to sleep with a migraine using natural methods?

While using the painkillers listed above helps relieve pain temporarily, taking them often may increase headaches and cause other side effects.

Using essential oils is a natural way to reduce stress in your mind and calm you down. You can use lavender oil for quick relief, which works within almost 15 minutes of inhaling it! It’s also great for reducing stress, one of the main causes of migraines.

You can’t go wrong with peppermint oil, commonly used to treat headaches and migraines. Migraines may cause temple headaches, so smear this oil all over your temples (whichever side hurts).

Say goodbye to your insomnia for the night using rosemary oil, which works well to relieve pain, relax the muscles, and reduce insomnia. Mix it with coconut oil and rub it on the affected area. Another commonly used oil for migraines is Eucalyptus Oil, which is also great for sinus-induced headaches.

These oils can provide relief during a migraine attack and help you go back to sleep. Sweet dreams!

5.3. Change Your Sleeping Position

In case of a migraine attack, you may feel a throbbing in either side of your head, face, or neck. Lie down on your side instead of flat on your back or stomach. Make sure that the side of your face that’s hurting is the one touching the bed.

However, if this sleep position doesn’t work, you can always try other comfortable sleeping positions.

5.4. Create Comfortable Sleeping Conditions

Are you still having trouble sleeping after using these pain-relief methods? Sometimes the problem may be in the environment. Check if the bright lights are bothering you. Or is it the room temperature or even the loud sounds coming from your tv?

Migraines include symptoms such as sensitivity to light and sound. So, you may want to avoid playing your favorite action movie as a lullaby while sleeping. Ensure that you create a dim setting by turning off all bright lights. Heat can also cause headaches and increase migraine frequency, so turn on the Air conditioner or any other cooling system.

All-in-all creates a calm and comfortable environment for yourself if you want to sleep with a migraine. Using these tips to sleep can also help you maintain good quality sleep.

5.5. Maintain a Good Sleep Cycle

Every individual needs at least 7-9 hours of sleep if they want to stay healthy. Migraines may affect these well-needed hours of sleep. So set your bedtime a few hours earlier as it takes time to fall asleep while struggling with a migraine. This will help you get the optimal range of sleep even during a migraine attack. It will also prevent your circadian rhythm from becoming irregular.

5.6. Stay Hydrated

Do you need a surefire way how to sleep with a migraine? Drinking a lot of fluids before bedtime will wash away your troubles! Migraines are sometimes related to acid reflux. So, if you drink a lot of water, it will neutralize acids inside your body.

You can drink tea, decaf coffee, or non-fat milk.

5.7. Go for a Walk

Walk your dog in the park or go for a simple, innocent jog along the street before bedtime. Mild physical exercise will reduce stress and tire you out before bedtime.

Sensitivity to light is one of the migraine symptoms you need to watch out for. Walking around in the broad sunlight will give you a headache. So, say hi to nature, but only in the evenings!

5.8. No Gadgets at the Night

Hearing this may feel like taking a bullet to the heart, but you should turn off your pc and phone an hour before bedtime. We say this because the blue light from electronics may drastically affect your sleep patterns and pave the way for sleep deprivation.

Want your circadian rhythm to be right on track? Ditch the gadgets at night.

5.9. Avoid Strong Scents

The aroma coming from perfumes, deodorants, and detergents may cause dizziness and nausea to those sensitive to them. This could trigger migraine attacks. So avoid wearing strong perfume or applying deodorant during the night.

5.10. Monitor Food Intake at the Night

Are you getting poor sleep due to frequent migraines? Is it affecting your daily lifestyle?

Maintaining everyday health will help avoid a chronic migraine, thereby getting you proper sleep in the long term. This means monitoring your food intake at night.

Avoid heavy meals before bedtime. It would be best if you also track your carb intake. Don’t eat chocolates, peanuts, or processed cheese at night. These may cause acid reflux, thereby causing headaches and migraine symptoms.

It would help if you also avoid caffeine or alcohol. These drinks can pump you up and prevent you free sleeping. Drinking alcohol can also lead to major headaches afterward.

5.11. Do these Relaxation Techniques

There are so many relaxation techniques you can try to calm yourself down during a migraine attack and even reduce pain. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are some of the best answers to “How to sleep with a migraine?”. They can go a long way toward relaxing your body and thereby help you cope with migraines.

5.12. Try a combination of Shavasana and guided meditation

where you can lie down and picture relaxing scenarios. There are a lot of guided meditation videos online, so it’s very easy to do. Don’t you want an excuse to check physical exercise off your daily list by simply lying down? It’ll help concentrate your mind on your breathing instead of the migraine pain.

Now you can be ready to battle the world in the mornings without any dark circles under your eyes! These simple practices can help you attain enough sleep to feel refreshed in the mornings. They also lead to pain relief or the prevention of migraines 8altogether. Those living with chronic migraine—which includes experiencing headaches 15 or more days per month—report having almost twice the rates of insomnia as those with less frequent headaches. If you have been suffering from migraines for a long time, then we know how difficult it can be to sleep when you feel one coming. But thanks to the remedies mentioned above, you can now get your rest!

You must work on your lifestyle to help manage these attacks. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which increase stress levels, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. All these factors will help in keeping your migraine at bay too. It won’t be too late if you start taking care of your health right now!

6. FAQS

Q. Do migraines get back over time?

The thing is, people’s experiences with migraines can vary depending on their symptoms and triggers, which means that migraine symptoms can change throughout the years, but it’s not always for the better. Although, it’s been in the talks for years how adolescents with migraines either stop having them completely or just have less severe attacks as they grow.

Q. Are migraines hereditary?

It’s a bit unusual to find migraines in people that don’t have any family history of it, so the answer is, yes. They can very well be hereditary. Knowing which members of your family have dealt with headaches like this and in what way can help you find a remedy for your headaches as well.

Q. What are some steps that migraineurs can take to improve sleep quality?

There are a few things migraineurs can do to improve sleep quality. Firstly, make sure you get enough sleep each night by following a sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. Secondly, try using headache relief medications as prescribed by your doctor if they don’t provide adequate relief from headache pain. Lastly, avoid using electronic devices in bed – this can help reduce stimulation and decrease headache pain at night.

Q. How does medication impact migraines and sleep quality?

Many migraineurs find that medication is the best way to improve sleep quality. headache relief medications such as Imitrex, triptans, and naproxen can help reduce headache pain by acting on various nerve paths in the head. When these drugs are taken regularly during migraine episodes, they can help individuals get a more restful night’s sleep.

Q. How can sleep quality be improved in people who have restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

People with RLS often report poor sleep quality. This is because the symptoms of RLS, such as leg cramps and restlessness, can cause individuals to move around frequently throughout the night. Strategies to improve sleep quality for people with RLS include reducing stress levels, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and using medications prescribed by your doctor to help reduce headache pain. We can help with questions about migraine and sleep If you have additional questions about sleep quality or migraine, please consult with a healthcare professional.

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  3. Rundo, Jessica Vensel, and Ralph Downey III. “Polysomnography.” Handbook of clinical neurology 160 (2019): 381-392. ↩︎
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