Establish A Good Sleep Routine & Ditch The Migraines
Migraine is an ancient disorder. Some of the earliest cases of painful headaches were recorded by the ancient Egyptians and date back as far as 1200 B.C. Today, it is estimated to affect 18% of women and 7% of men. A prevalence as high as this makes migraine not rare but common.
For those who have never experienced a migraine, consider yourselves lucky. Migraines are painful. The pain can often be throbbing, usually affect only one side of the head, and is often accompanied by neurological symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light (Ahn and Goadsby, 2013). Migraine sufferers, or migraineurs as they are sometimes called in the literature, may sense a migraine coming when they experience an aura, or a change in their sensory experiences like vision problems (Ahn and Goadsby, 2013). Migraine attacks can last from hours to days and can be quite debilitating.
Migraineurs are very sensitive to subtle changes in both their external and internal environments. One such environmental factor is sleep routine.
Let’s first begin by examining the role of the sleep-wake cycle in migraine. The sleep-wake cycle is our internal biological clock. It sets itself to daylight conditions and regulates many physiological signals, such as a morning rise of the activity-promoting hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands and a nighttime peak of sleep-promoting melatonin from the pineal gland” (Ahn and Goadsby, 2013). The circadian rhythm dictates whether you are a morning person who hits the hay at 9pm; or a night owl who struggles to get out of bed in the morning. This internal clock involves the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that is responsible for maintaining the stable balance of the body’s physiological processes known as homeostasis. The hypothalamus oversees a range of “critical physiological functions, such as body temperature, blood pressure, feeding and satiety, blood glucose, and the regulation of sex hormones” (Ahn and Goadsby, 2013).
In the lives of migraineurs, the sleep-wake cycle is of utmost importance. In fact, people with migraine commonly report that if they stray from their normal routine of sleep, whether it is staying up too late, getting up earlier than usual, changes in activity pattern due to shift work, jet lag, or even oversleeping, a migraine can ensue. It is not surprising then that persistent disturbance of regular sleep, such as an erratic sleep schedule, frequent changes in activity due to shift work, frequent interruptions of sleep through the night, a night of binge-drinking, a chronic illness that disturbs sleep quality, or the presence of a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea are associated with frequent or difficult-to-control migraine.
If you suffer from migraines, start by establishing a proper sleep routine. This is non-negotiable. Here are some effective ways to reestablish good sleep hygiene:
– Go to bed at the same time every night
– Avoid vigorous exercise in late evenings
– Avoid stimulants like sugar, coffee, caffeinated tea or beverages in the afternoon
– Avoid over-eating close to bedtime
– Cut back on alcohol
If, despite all these efforts, you can’t get a handle of the frequency of migraines, then come talk to our team at Wellth. We have a wide range of tools that can help us zone in on exactly what is triggering your migraine headaches and get you on the road to being migraine-free.
Article by Dr Dominika Zarzeczny ND. Dr. Dominika is a licensed naturopathic doctor, certified IVIT and BHRT Practitioner, speaker, health & wellness educator and corporate consultant. Dr. Dominika received her undergraduate degree from the University of Ottawa in Biopharmaceutical Science and her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Dr. Dominika strives to help you create better health for yourself by providing results-oriented, evidence-based solutions that are customized to your needs and health goals.