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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Sleep and Migraines

How migraines and sleep affect each other.

8 Steps to Better Sleep continued...

3. Eat and drink earlier. Drink no more than a teacup of fluid before bedtime to cut down on sleep-interrupting trips to the bathroom. For the same reason, avoid eating meals within four hours before bedtime, Calhoun says. (Much of the liquid we take in comes from the food we eat, along with beverages.)

4. Change your thinking. Some people whose migraines strike at night become afraid to go to sleep, Sahota says. If worrying about your migraines is keeping you from resting, consider talking to a counselor who works with people with chronic pain. An approach called cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn how to adopt healthier thoughts and behaviors related to your migraines.

5. Cool off. Ruminer has learned some tricks to lull herself to sleep during a migraine attack. Cooling her room with the air conditioner helps.

6. Comfort yourself. When you have a migraine, some people find that placing cold packs on their head helps them sleep, while others prefer a warm pack, Sahota says. Try each to see which kind helps you more.

7. Take a two-pronged approach. After taking medication to stop a migraine, lie down in a dark, cool, quiet room. As you're sleeping, the medicine can go to work so you wake up feeling better.

8. Review your medications. Ask your doctor if any medicines you're taking – including migraine drugs – can wake you up or make your sleep less restful. If so, taking them in the morning may help limit their effect on your sleep, Calhoun says.

Getting to sleep without relying on medicine is the best option, Calhoun and Sahota say. So work on your sleep habits first. If you still can't get better sleep, talk it over with your health care provider.

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Reviewed on August 14, 2012

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