Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sleep Hygiene Key for Migraineurs

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Migraineurs are sensitive. Our brains don't regulate sleep as well as they need to. We tend to wake easily and have trouble getting an adequate amount of rest. Although there will always be times when it seems impossible to get the sleep we need, there are things we can do to improve our chances.

Experts recommend these basic steps for establishing the best possible sleep routine:

(1) Don't oversleep - Many people mistakenly think you can make up for lost sleep by catching up on winks another night. You can't. Get up at your normal time even when you didn't sleep as long as usual to stay on your normal schedule.

(2) Adjust your body's clock - Your body is highly responsive to light. It is essential to keep your sleeping area dark, but to allow sunlight into your bedroom as the sun rises so your body begins the awakening process. When you wake up open the blinds and turn on the lights to get your body pumping in response to the trigger of light.

(3) Get regular exercise - I know this can be hard for migraineurs, but try to get in some physical activity. It will help you fall asleep at a reasonable time and get better rest. Plus it's great for preventing migraines and reducing stress. Can't beat that. Gentle stretching or yoga right before bed can help relax your body, calm your mind and prepare you for sleep.

(4) Avoid naps - When you didn't get enough sleep the night before taking a nap can be incredibly tempting. Naps can work into your sleep plan, but you must be strategic. Don't nap for longer than 20 minutes and avoid napping too late in the day. You don't want your nap to interfere with your ability to fall asleep at the appropriate time that night. Research shows that this kind of nap helps some people make up for lost sleep the right before, though it can also worsen depression for those who are prone to it.

(5) Develop a bedtime routine - End any stimulating activities about an hour before your bedtime. Instead, do something relaxing such as reading, watching TV or listening to music.

(6) Establish consistency - Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every single day, including weekends and holidays.

(7) Avoid problematic habits - Limit caffeine throughout the day, especially within a few hours of bedtime. If you have trouble sleeping experiment with scaling back on caffeine and stopping it earlier until you see some improvement. Like any substance it can affect individuals very differently. The same is true of alcohol. It interrupts your sleep if you overindulge. Moderation is key.

(8) Create an environment conducive to rest - Cooler rooms tend to lead to better sleep than warmer rooms. White noise can help you tune out distracting noises that might disrupt your sleep. Freshly laundered sheets are always a nice way to drift off for the night. Finding the right pillow can be key. Avoid trying to fall asleep with a TV on or at least set it to turn off automatically after a few minutes so it's not in the background to disrupt your sleep.

What helps you get a good night's sleep? Do you nap? Share in the comments.

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep
The Healthy Benefits of Midday Napping
Migraine Headaches: Connection to Food?

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.