Migraine Relief Through Quality Sleep

Written by Holly Hazen


Did you know you can get migraine relief through quality sleep?

Long-time migraine sufferers know that there is a close link between migraines and sleep, and this understanding is actually backed up by science. Migraine Pal cited a study involving migraine patients which revealed that over half struggled with getting to and maintaining sleep. The same research showed that sleep disturbances triggered migraine attacks for half of the respondents.

Find Migraine Relief Through Quality Sleep @migrainesavvyFind Migraine Relief Through Quality Sleep

But what, exactly, is the connection between the two? 

There are different theories that attempt to explain how sleep affects migraines. One is that lack of sleep can trigger the pain. A study by Missouri State University’s Center for Biomedical & Life Sciences revealed that REM sleep deprivation can increase the levels of proteins P38, PKA, and P2X3, all of which are related to initiating and sustaining pain. [2] This explains why lack of sleep can result in headaches, or worse, migraines. Attacks are more likely to become more severe if people fail to sleep regularly over a prolonged period of time. 

The link appears to go both ways. People who complain about frequent migraines are also likely to suffer from difficulty in falling and staying asleep.

Surprisingly, migraine attacks are not just triggered by lack of sleep, but also when there’s an excess of it. Migraine Trust explains that the condition is one of the regulatory mechanisms of the body to address the imbalance between sleep and wakefulness. Attacks are more likely if people have an inconsistent schedule, such as sleeping for 12 hours on certain nights or days but getting only 3 or 4 hours of sleep on others. These fluctuations can throw the body’s hormones off-balance, thereby causing a migraine.

As for other notorious triggers, teeth grinding has been identified as well. A previous Migraine Savvy article talked about powerful muscle contractions while asleep, which happen around the jaw for an hour or so. The amount of pressure exerted by clenching the teeth may be strong enough to produce migraines.

Relieving migraines caused by sleep problems

While there may be different theories on the connection between migraines and sleep, specialists are united in their belief that maintaining good sleeping habits can be an effective remedy. This tip was also echoed in 'Easy Migraine Home Remedy Alternatives', which indicated that the key to avoid or minimize migraine attacks is getting consistent quality sleep.

So here are some tips to help you get migraine relief through quality sleep:

  • Try to schedule 7-8 hours of sleep at the same time each night. Forming a routine is essential. 
  • Remove anything in your bedroom that may disrupt your rest, because interrupted and shallow sleep can also trigger migraines. For instance, make sure your mobile phone is either on airplane mode or in a different room altogether.
  • Make sure your room is completely black. Any light can come through your eyelids and disrupt your sleep.
  • If you’re having trouble getting some shut-eye, you can try taking some slow, deep breaths. This habit can regulate blood pressure, allowing you to relax and fall asleep faster. Scanning and relaxing each part of your body, starting at the toes, is effective too. 
  • Now you might not think about mornings effecting your sleep, but going on a daily walk before 8-9 am can enforce your body clock. If you can't walk, just sit in the sunshine early on and let your eyes get some light.

If you find yourself getting a migraine, try to seclude yourself in a dark, quiet room to rest. Act fast to stop the pain phase - over-the-counter medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen may help.

And if that doesn't work... you might need a triptan or other medication to deal with the pain phase.

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Migraine Relief Through Quality Sleep Resources:

1. MigrainePal Blog (2016) "15 Reasons Why You Wake Up With A Migraine" http://www.blog.migrainepal.com/blog/why-do-i-wake-up-with-a-migraine. Accessed 04/01/2018
2. American Headache Society. (2010, June 23). REM sleep deprivation plays a role in chronic migraine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 3, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623085528.htm
3. The Migraine Trust "Sleep and Migraine" https://www.migrainetrust.org/living-with-migraine/coping-managing/sleep/ Accessed 04/01/2018 Updated 17/01/2019



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