Sleep Awareness Benefits Migraine Treatment

August 15, 2014

Did you know that  there’s a week called  ‘Sleep Awareness Week’? That’s right: a whole week dedicated to Sleep!  If only we appreciated just how important good sleep hygiene is when it comes to easing chronic headaches and treating migraines, we would recognize every day as ‘Sleep Awareness Day.’

At the start of the week, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) announces the topic and results of its annual poll and when the week’s events wrap up, Daylight Saving Time returns and with it, we lose an hour of sleep.  Past years’ polls explored the relationships between sleep and topics like communications technology and exercise.

It is well established through anecdotal literature as well as scientific studies, that sleep deprivation and disturbances are linked with increased migraines and headaches.  According to the Headache Journal website, these can transform over time into chronic headache and migraine conditions.  It’s quite clear that improving the quality of your sleep certainly has the potential to enhance your migraine treatment plan.

Researchers from Missouri State University discovered that REM (rapid eye movement stage) sleep deprivation altered the levels of certain proteins involved with pain transmission along the trigeminal nerve in migraine events.  They presented their findings at the American Headache Society’s 52nd Annual Scientific Meeting.  The relevant proteins are responsible for triggering as well as lessening pain.  REM sleep occurs after the initial 4 phases of non-REM sleep, at approximately 1 and one-half hours after falling asleep.  During this phase, according to the NSF, your brain is active with dreams and your body and muscles are relaxed.

If you suffer with chronic headaches or migraines and sleep problems be sure to address these concerns with your migraine treatment specialist.  Signs of sleep disorders can sometimes be tricky to identify, but they include: waking during the night; experiencing difficulty falling asleep several nights of the week; snoring; dozing off during the day; or (according to what you have been told by others) occasional breathing lapses while sleeping.

 

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