Thursday, September 18, 2008

Breaking the Migraine Cycle

Today I found an article at "Everyday Health" that described the relationship between migraine headaches and sleep deprivation.

The article gave the following recommendations on how to regulate sleep, so that you can get at least eight hours every single night:

In a 2006 study of about 40 women who experienced transformed migraines (chronic daily headaches), researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill asked half the group to make the following behavioral sleep modifications (BSMs):
  • Go to bed at the same time every night to allow for eight hours of sleep.
  • Eliminate TV watching, reading, or listening to the radio in bed.
  • Use visualization techniques to shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
  • Eat dinner at least four hours before going to bed, and limit fluid intake within two hours of bedtime.
  • Take no naps.
After six weeks, the women that modified their sleep habits reported a 29 percent reduction in headache frequency and a 40 percent drop in headache intensity. The other group of women, who were given instructions unrelated to sleep, did not experience any improvement in headache frequency or intensity.

Now, it is counter-intuitive to eliminate naps when operating on a couple of hours of sleep ... or when actually fighting a migraine. And yet, this study shows that we need to "educate the body" to optimize the rest time we do receive ... so hang in there!


Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

My migraines are most likely hormonal in nature, but I'm always looking for extra ways to manage them.
I wonder if migraines are more likely in people who require more sleep? I'd love 8 hours a night, and to be able to eat dinner more than 4 hours before bed. Neither one EVER happens because of "circumstances beyond my control" (my husband's work schedule).

Heidi Hess Saxton said...

I hear you, Barb. The first year we got our kids, especially, I was lucky to get three consecutive hours of sleep a night. My husband never got ready for bed before midnight (winding down from work, which kept him up till late at night), so even if I was in bed when the last kid went down, I still woke up when DH settled in for the night. I averaged three migraines a week at that point ... and went on daily meds to cope with the symptoms.

There does come a point when we have to assess (and follow through on) what WE need to stay healthy, even if it means dispensing with the "ideal" family picture. Even if you eat at 6, and drink herbal tea with hubby when he gets home for his meal. That's not being selfish ... it's being a mother who wants to be fully present to her family, and takes care of herself so she CAN be.

God bless you!

themigrainegirl said...

Very interesting post! Thanks for summarizing the findings in such a succinct way. I have started going to bed between 11 and 12 each night and waking up at 8 or 9. This has curbed my late-night social life, but I'm less apt to nap during the day. (Oh, but I love my naps. LOVE THEM!)

elena maria vidal said...

Very helpful.

I just went to the doctor for what I thought were migraines, but it ended up being caused by muscle tension in my upper back and neck. The doctor sent me to a physical therapist and I learned some simple stretching exercises. The headaches (which were daily) have practically disappeared.