Thank you to guest blogger Dr. Brent Wells for sharing.
Are migraines keeping you up at night? Migraines affect 1 in 7 people and having trouble getting some shut-eye is a common complaint among migraine sufferers. While sometimes it’s difficult to prevent migraine onset, there are some tips you can follow to lower your chances of getting a migraine and help you get to sleep regardless.
Oftentimes sleep and migraines go hand-in-hand. The worse you sleep, the more pain you’ll feel. This cycle can be hard to break, but today we’ll go through these strategies to get you ready for bed with these migraine-busting tips.
1. Migraine-proof your bedroom
Make sure your bedroom isn’t triggering your migraines. To start, this space should feel relaxing to you. For most people, that means a bedroom that’s tidy, dark and quiet. Check that the temperature is comfortable, too. Don’t keep work or homework in this room, and follow a no food or drink rule in the bedroom. You should only use your bedroom for sleep and intimacy so that when you walk into this room, your body receives a cue that it’s time to sleep.
2. Stick to a sleep routine
This is easier said than done, but try to follow a regular sleep schedule. Eight hours should be a good guideline number to help you get enough. Avoid leaving tasks for nighttime. Instead, create a two-hour buffer before bed that involves only relaxing activities, and ideally no meals. Protect your sleep schedule by creating rituals that make it easy to follow. For example, you can set yourself up for success if you create a pre-bedtime ritual that involves going for an evening walk and then reading. Whatever activities you choose, be sure they’re relaxing and regular. Your bedtime ritual could also involve a hot bath, a cup of decaffeinated tea or writing in a journal.
3. Put your phone on silent
You heard that right. Before bed, you should try to keep away from screens, including your cell phone and TV. One good way to stop yourself from picking up your phone every minute is to put it on silent. You can even adjust your settings so that your phone automatically goes silent at a certain hour. In addition, avoid watching TV before bed, which can stimulate your brain instead of quiet it. You should also “silent” work messages and emails. Make sure overconnectivity isn’t keeping you stressed 24/7. Protect your bedtime by avoiding phone contact altogether.
4. Go on night runs
Change up your exercise routine and go to the gym at night. Night exercise can make you feel relaxed and tire out your body for restful sleep. It’s also a great routine activity that can make getting to bed a natural step after exercise. Often, there are night classes available at the gym, or you can create a home gym for anytime exercise.
5. Watch what you eat before bed
Whenever possible, try to avoid eating before bed. It’s better to eat early so that your stomach has enough time to digest. In particular, make sure you avoid inflammatory foods such as chips, other salty snacks, cheeses, and cold cuts. You should also try to avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol, which can affect the quality of your sleep at night. If you want, try to enjoy a beverage during dinner and then keep the rest of the night alcohol-free. In general, cutting back on caffeine will also help your migraines.
6. Invest in white noise
If you’re easily bothered by noise, invest in white noise so that it doesn’t disturb your sleep. This could be as simple as a fan to muffle sound, a white noise machine or a simple white noise app that you can run at night. If noise is a trigger for you, invest in blocking it out. You’ll protect yourself from migraines and get better sleep, hands down.
7. Shut off your mind with meditation
Stress is a common trigger for migraines. Declutter your mind and calm it at night with a few tips. First, you can try meditation before bed to get your breathing at a deep, consistent rate. If your mind is still flying a hundred miles per hour, you could also try to create to-do lists of things on your mind or journal about how you’re feeling. This can help you empty your mind for restful sleep.
8. Keep a food journal
If food is triggering your migraines, it’s a good idea to keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat so you can find patterns about what may be causing your migraines. This is especially important for getting to bed, because you can likely switch up your diet so that your meals at dinner are migraine-friendly.
9. Avoid sleeping aids
It’s best to start with lifestyle changes to see if your migraines can improve at night. Avoid going straight to sleeping pills or aids to get to bed. Often, these can bring temporary relief but can make you dependent on them in the long run. If you can, start with natural remedies first and see if you can create healthy routines to reduce your migraines.
10. Create positive vibes during your day
Migraines can bring down your energy level. Try to create pockets of positivity during the day, which will help you arrive at nighttime in a better mood. Take breaks, find ways to breathe deep and keep your stress down by using coping mechanisms. Do feel-good activities to boost your positivity and keep you thinking on the bright side.
11. Chiropractic massage therapy techniques
The final key area for preventing migraines at night is massage. You can do self-massage techniques to loosen your neck and shoulders or ask a partner to give you a massage in tension areas before bed. Another great idea is to see a professional chiropractic massage therapist, who can relieve pain during sessions and get your muscles loose. At Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage, for example, you can get massage therapy sessions on a regular basis to help relieve migraines.
Take back control of your migraines by following this prevention plan. By creating a healthy sleep routine and avoiding certain triggers, you’ll get the z’s you need to feel great again.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.