World Sleep Day: Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Symptoms
March 16th is World Sleep Day—a day when we celebrate sleep and take time to recognize the important issues related to sleep.
Sleep is an incredibly important part of migraine management. This is not only because lack of sleep in and of itself can trigger migraines, but because lack of sleep can increase your stress levels and will only make matters worse. Fortunately, some of the things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep also have the potential to soothe your migraine symptoms.
How Lack of Sleep Triggers Migraines
It may sound strange, but lack of sleep has been known to trigger an increased expression of the P2X3 protein—a protein that plays an important role in peripheral pain responses and has been linked to chronic pain.
The other proteins increased by a lack of sleep—p38 and PKA—regulate sensory response in facial nerves which play a key role in migraines.
Although science has not determined a clear pathway between lack of sleep and migraine onset, there is a clear correlation between prolonged periods of disrupted sleep and the susceptibility of developing migraines.
Sleep Loss, Stress, and Migraines
Anyone who has ever had a bad night’s sleep (which is all of us) knows that the day after can be filled with short tempers and overly stressful moments—even in situations that would probably have not been so stressful otherwise.
As your body responds to stress, it sends out chemicals that cause your muscles to tense and your blood vessels to open wider. When your body experiences these changes, it can lead to a migraine.
About half of all migraines begin between 4:00am and 9:00am. If you experiencing these awakening headaches, it is quite possible that a lack of sleep is the reason why.
Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Symptoms
Making a plan to get better sleep mirrors a plan to treat your migraines naturally. By making small changes in your diet, lifestyle, and nighttime routine, you should experience better sleep and migraine relief.
Eating an excessive amount of carbohydrates has been known to trigger migraines and keep people awake since your body processes them like sugar. Getting in some good daily activity has both been known to relieve migraines and ensure that your body is tired at night.
As for your nighttime routine, make sure that your room is dark and cool and remove as much unnecessary light as possible—no TVs, smart phones, tablets, etc. You can also add white noise or binaural beats which have been known to soothe migraines and aid sleep.
While there is no guarantee that better sleep will decrease the number of migraines you experience, good sleep is a decidedly good way to help improve your quality of life.
Sleep needs vary from person to person, but 7 to 9 hours is the general range you should aim for to get all of sleep’s restorative value. Any less and, surprisingly, any more can cause problems.
So, on this World Sleep Day, think about all the ways that better sleep can benefit you and make a plan to start getting the best sleep of your life.
Your Friends at Migraine Treatment Centers of America