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Do Your Sleep Habits Trigger Migraines?

Research suggests a link between sleep problems and migraines.

Do Your Sleep Habits Trigger Migraines? continued...

Not only do sleep problems wreak havoc on mood and decision-making abilities, but poor sleep habits also result in feelings of malaise, poor concentration, and even accidental deaths, according to Ronald R. Fieve, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, and author of Bipolar II.

When trying to isolate signs of sleep problems, Fieve gives the following eight statements to patients. If you check more than two of the statements below, call your doctor and seek help for your sleepproblem:

  • I have a headache in the morning upon getting out of bed.
  • I feel scattered aches and pains throughout my body upon arising.
  • I feel fatigue or tiredness that does not go away even after several large cups of strongly caffeinated coffee.
  • I feel in a low mood that does not lift even as I get on with daily activities.
  • I have felt depressed enough to seek psychiatric help or to obtain antidepressant medications.
  • I feel irritable, impatient, and moody.
  • I have trouble learning new information or grasping new ideas.
  • I often have an inability to maintain social harmony with family and friends.

Will Better Sleep Habits Stop Your Migraines?

While no one can guarantee that better sleep habits will result in fewer migraines, there are some practical ways to get in control of your sleep problems.

Start by keeping track of your sleep habits and migraine patterns each morning for four weeks. Using a small calendar or diary, write down how you slept each night and record if you had a migraine. After reviewing your sleep habits and migraine diary over four weeks, you may begin to notice a pattern of sleep problems triggering migraines. Even if you don't notice a pattern, continue to work on your sleep habits so you feel better and are able be more alert and productive at work and at home.

Sleep Problems With Migraines: Do You Need a Sleep Study?

While researchers are still trying to determine the connection between sleep habits and migraine, REM sleep abnormalities have been implicated in a variety of problems, including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Sleep problems are also common in those with fibromyalgia, which is characterized by its deep muscle pain, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Coincidentally, migraines are common in those with fibromyalgia, with 50% to 75% of sufferers also reporting migraine headaches.

If your doctor suspects you might have sleep problems such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or other sleep problems, your doctor may recommend a sleep study or polysomnography. With a sleep study, sleep specialists evaluate your sleep habits at an overnight facility, administering ongoing tests, including an electroencephalogram (EEG), which monitors electrical activity of the brain, oxygen levels, airflow, and other physiological functions.

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