Sleep is a tricky trigger. Too much or too little of it can bring on a migraine. The key is to keep your downtime constant. Figure out your sleep schedule sweet spot and stick with it.
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Don’t: Skip Meals
When your blood sugar drops, your brain feels it first. Hunger is a common cause of headaches. Be sure you’re giving your body the fuel it needs to work all day.
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Do: Watch the Caffeine
This pick-me-up is both a trigger and a treatment for migraines. Some headache meds add caffeine because it boosts the effectiveness of the pain relievers. The problem comes when you have too much. You could set yourself up for a rebound headache, so be careful with caffeine.
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Don’t: Over- or Underdo Exercise
Sometimes too much exercise can spark a migraine. But regular, moderate activity will give your overall health a boost and help you stay headache-free. Remember to start slowly and increase your activity level gradually.
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Do: Watch the Weather
Storms often come with changes in atmospheric pressure. These shifts can be a doozy on your head, so don’t get caught off guard. Check the forecast often so you can have treatment on hand if you need it.
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Don’t: Dry Out
Even mild dehydration can spell trouble if you get migraines often. Give yourself a goal of eight glasses of water a day to keep the head pain away. Limit caffeine-containing and alcoholic beverages since they can dehydrate you.
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Do: Plan for Your Period
Hormones can wreak havoc on your head. It’s common to get migraines with your period. Some women get them when they ovulate and during menopause, too. Have a pain-relief plan in place when you know your hormones will be in flux.
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Don’t: Stare at Screens
Hours in front of a computer or TV can strain your eyes. For some people with migraine, eyestrain can trigger head pain. Take breaks often. Stretch, close your eyes, and get up to get your blood flowing. That’ll help stop a migraine before it starts.
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Do: Track Your Attacks
You can’t avoid your triggers if you don’t know what they are. Keep a migraine diary and write down what you eat, your sleep patterns, medications you take, and any symptoms you have. This will help your doctor come up with a prevention and treatment plan, too.
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Don’t: Grit Your Teeth
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are common migraine triggers. If you’re doing it in your sleep, talk to your dentist about a device that helps hold your jaw in place and prevent problems. If daytime grinding gives you pain, try to pinpoint the source of stress and work to lower it.
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Constant worry and tension can harm your health. If you’re migraine-prone, your stress can bring one on. You may even get them after your stress is over and you’re ready to relax. Exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep to help lower your stress. You may also find counseling, biofeedback, or even medications can bring more calm to your life.
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Don’t: Ignore Your Environment
From loud sounds to certain smells to flashing lights, migraine triggers are everywhere. Know what things set off your headaches, and do your best to avoid them.
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Do: Be Wary of Wine
Alcohol is supposed to relax you, right? But for some people, the opposite can happen. Certain ingredients in drinks like red wine may cause headaches instead. Watch for a reaction when you drink -- you may be able to have a glass from time to time, or you may need to avoid booze altogether.
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There’s no doubt about it: Smoking isn’t good for you. But if you deal with frequent migraines, lighting up can be especially harmful. Nicotine, the smell of burning tobacco, and secondhand smoke are all migraine triggers. Talk to your doctor about treatments that can help you quit.
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Do: Treat Your Body Like a Temple
The best thing you can do to prevent migraines is to take really good care of your health. Feed yourself nutritious foods, drink water, move your body every day, and get regular sleep. If you focus on your health, your head will thank you.
View our slideshows to learn more about your health.