Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Rest to Avoid Chronic Headaches

September 11, 2012

Our recent article about medical research linking sleep disorders with headaches and migraines presented a wonderful opportunity to learn about another drug free migraine treatment: Sleep!  Scientists from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill tested a migraine-sleep theory in 2006, and found that behavioral modifications to improve sleeping resulted in fewer and less severe migraines. The subjects of the study were prescribed sleep plans that included the following instructions: allocate 8 regular hours toward bedtime; don’t engage in watching TV, listening to music or reading in bed; think of mental pictures to fall asleep quicker; don’t eat within 4 hours or drink within 2 hours of going to bed; eliminate daytime naps.  The American Headache Society’s education website suggests various ways to improve your sleep.

Eliminating or managing impediments to getting a proper night’s rest is key in your drug free migraine treatment protocol:

  • Life Stresses: events such as the death of a loved one, divorce or employment interruption, are unavoidable but it’s important to manage the impact it has on your well being. Consider your daily stressors and ways to better deal with those.
  • Emotional and Mental Health Disorders: Conditions like depression or anxiety can cause too much or little sleep.  Seek out professional help to address these issues.
  • Medications: whether prescription or over the counter, medication can interfere with sleep due to side effects such as grogginess or anxiety from stimulants.  Discuss options with your doctor.
  • Untreated Medical Conditions:  These can result in restless sleep, and treating these primary illnesses or condition will improve your sleep quality also.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations: In women this can be a major cause of sleep interruption, occurring when estrogen levels fall.  Menstrual cycles and menopause can wreak havoc with sleeping.
  • Bad habits: These include consuming alcohol, which although makes you drowsy, results in restless sleep and nighttime awakening and morning grogginess; nicotine and caffeine which cause you to feel wired and jumpy; and stimulating nighttime activities like studying in bed, watching TV or surfing the internet.

The American Headache Society recommends taking proactive behavioral modification steps during the day and at bedtime to help chase away insomnia.  Things that you can proactively do for your drug free migraine treatment plan are:

  • Engage in soothing and relaxing activities before bedtime, like warm baths, listening to peaceful music, practicing mind-body relaxation such as yoga, meditation and prayer.
  • Exercise during the day and get some fresh air while you’re at it.
  • Create a ‘zen-place’ in your bedroom with soothing sights, sounds and smells.


With these sleepy-time tips, according to science and common sense you should hopefully begin to feel better and finally get some quality ZZZZZZ’s!

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