Migraines, Holiday Sleep and Stress

(HealthNewsDigest.com) – MOUNT ROYAL, NJ (December 17, 2014) – Studies have shown that periods of high stress and poor sleep can combine to increase the risk of having a migraine attack.  Because stress levels are often high – and sleep insufficient — during the winter holiday season, the American Migraine Foundation and its Chair, David W. Dodick, MD, FRCP (C), FACP, want to help people with migraine better understand some essentials of sleep hygiene that may help reduce their risk of migraine attacks.  Dr. Dodick is also Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine (Scottsdale, AZ).

“There are a number of steps one can take to establish and maintain better sleep habits, feel more rested, and have higher energy levels,” said Dr. Dodick. “These steps may also help reduce the likelihood of a migraine attack.”

Dr. Dodick and the Foundation offer the following tips, which can also be found on https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/spotlight-on-tis-the-season/, along with a wealth of other consumer-friendly recommendations on reducing migraine risk while enjoying the holidays:

  • Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time every day, even on the weekends.
  • If you have trouble sleeping at night, avoid daytime naps as much as possible. If you nap to find relief from a migraine attack, try to otherwise keep your normal sleep schedule.
  • Avoid eating, studying, reading, watching TV, texting and talking on the phone while in bed.
  • Don’t stay in bed if you can’t fall asleep. Few things are more frustrating than not being able to fall asleep, but tossing and turning in bed will only make your sleep problems worse. If you can’t fall asleep within 20-30 minutes, get out of bed, go into another room, and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Repeat until you are able to fall asleep within 20-30 minutes of getting in bed. (Most people change positions a few times within 20-30 minutes, so if you’ve changed positions several times or start to feel frustrated that you can’t sleep, it’s time to get out of bed.)
  • Don’t watch the clock-it will only make you anxious and more frustrated if you can’t sleep.

“Following these tips can help people with migraine feel better rested, and possibly avoid some migraine attacks as well,” said Dr. Dodick.  “If you find that you tend to wake with migraine symptoms, however, we advise discussing both your sleep habits and sleep quality with your physician.”

Dr. Dodick added that there is still some disagreement about whether stress itself is a migraine trigger, a symptom of the premonitory phase of an attack, or if there are other triggers that may occur during times of stress that may cause a migraine attack. “It’s possible that these triggers go unnoticed,” he said.  “Keeping a diary during stressful periods can help identify potentially avoidable triggers.”

Among these potential triggers are less sleep, an irregular sleep schedule, poor quality sleep, skipping meals, consuming too much caffeine, and insufficient fluids to remain hydrated.

The American Migraine Foundation recently redesigned its site (www.americanmigrainefoundation.org) to include a range of resources, including a new monthly “Spotlight,” where migraine sufferers and the public can turn for more detailed information about living with and managing many aspects of migraine. “Spotlight” will change topics approximately once a month.  The current Spotlight is “‘Tis the Season for Holiday Headaches,” a feature packed with information on how people with migraine can help reduce the likelihood that activities during the winter holidays will trigger more frequent migraine attacks.  In addition to the subject discussed above, the site includes articles on “Seasonal Triggers of Migraines”; “Migraine, Diet and Food Triggers”; “Tips for Managing Stress During the Holidays”; “Winter Blues and Migraine”; and “‘Tis the Season for Major Headaches” (an article covering a range of potential holiday-related migraine triggers), as well as useful links.

ABOUT MIGRAINE: Some 36 million Americans live with migraine, more than have asthma and diabetes combined.  An estimated three to seven million Americans live with chronic migraine, a highly disabling neurological disorder. Migraine can be extremely disabling and costly, accounting for more than $20 billion in direct (e.g. doctor visits, medications) and indirect (e.g. missed work, lost productivity) expenses each year in the United States.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN MIGRAINE FOUNDATION: The American Migraine Foundation is a non-profit foundation supported by the American Headache Society and generous donors dedicated to the advancement of migraine research. Its mission is to support innovative research that will lead to improvement in the lives of those who suffer from migraine and other disabling headaches.www.americanmigrainefoundation.org is the companion website to the American Headache Society (www.americanheadachesociety.org), the professional services organization for the world’s foremost clinicians and researchers working in migraine.

Via: Health News Digest

Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.