Link Between Migraine and Sleep Disorders

If you have been suffering from migraines, it is possible that it is caused by a lingering sleep problem.  Migraines begin when hyperactive nerve cells send out impulses to blood vessels.  This causes the vessels to constrict, then expand, accompanied by the release of brain chemical and inflammatory substances that cause the pulsations to be painful.

Coincidentally, a study published in the journal Headache claims that more than 80 percent of migraine patients surveyed feel tired when they wake up from sleep.  Furthermore, researchers provide stronger evidence that good sleeping habits can reduce both the number and intensity of migraine headaches.

How sleep problems cause migraines

Health experts claim that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep provokes migraines, usually occurring five to six hours after sleep begins.  Most people go through about six sleep cycles with about four stages of sleep, plus REM sleep. 

The deepest stages of sleep (stages 3 and 4) are necessary for our brains to produce serotonin and dopamine; both are neurotransmitters or chemicals in the brain that causes your body to feel good.  A decrease of serotonin and dopamine, usually caused by lack of adequate sleep, can usually trigger migraines.

How better sleep habits stop migraines

Keep track of your sleep habits and migraine patterns every morning for four weeks.  Use a diary or calendar and write down how you slept each nigh and record if you have experienced migraine. 

Review your sleep habits and migraine diary over those four weeks, and notice if there is a pattern between your sleep problems and how they trigger migraines.  If you do not notice a pattern, continue working on your sleep habits so you feel better and are able to become more alert and productive at work and at home.

How to manage sleep problems with migraines

In order to have a peaceful sleep, make sure that your whole body is prepared for rest.  Start by turning off the lights, TV, and the laptop when getting ready for bed.  Eliminate caffeine from your diet, and try exercising regularly in the morning or afternoon but never before bedtime. 

You can also eat dinner at least three hours before sleep, usually a high-carbohydrate snack like cereal and milk.  Do not forget to consult your doctor who can give you advice on lifestyle habits and medication that can help you manage your migraines and end your sleeping problems.