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How a good night’s sleep can reduce migraines

by | Aug 5, 2019 | Sleep Disorders

Dr Della Buttigieg

Dr Della Buttigieg – Melbourne Osteohealth

A good’s night sleep is particularly important for people who suffer migraines or chronic headaches. It’s generally known that lack of sleep can contribute to migraines. Too much sleep, however can also be a trigger. Dr Della Buttigieg from Melbourne Osteohealth, explains the role of good sleep hygiene inreducing migraines and chronic headaches.

Dr Buttigieg is the practice principal at Melbourne Osteohealth and leading practitioner and educator in osteopathy and pain science. Her work helps people take charge of their health to overcome chronic pain & injury. She helps her clients to see and understand what good sleep hygiene looks like and its role in minimising chronic pain and suffering.

Dr Buttigieg comments, “Variations or fluctuations with sleep is a very common trigger for migraine. It likely reflects something wrong with the normal melatonin and serotonin cycle which regulate our sleep patterns. Women suffer more frequently from migraines then men. It can then become a bit of a vicious circle where the headaches and migraines will then cause further fluctuations to a person’s sleep.”

Most migraines happen between 4 and 9 am. This suggests a timing issues connected to sleep and circadian rhythms (body clock). It’s been reported that shift-work and jet lag can trigger migraines in some people. Excessive sleepiness may be a symptom before a migraine attack, or a symptom following the attack.

Good sleep hygiene

Even though sleep can be a trigger for your migraines and headaches, it can also be the cure, Dr Buttigieg advises, “Averaging 8 hrs a night of good uninterrupted sleep can have a significant impact on reducing migraine frequency. Essential to sleep hygiene is to establish a routine and a routine based around relaxation not rigidity. When I see people who will only sleep in one position propped up with a pillow, where they are afraid to change, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

She adds, “A nervous system that is active all night will contribute to maintaining tension and stress levels that  increase the risk for headaches and migraines.”

The body has an internal clock and hormones that control sleepiness and wakefulness. This clock works best if there is a regular sleep routine base around relaxation. When working well, you will feel sleepy at bed time. Try not to ignore this by staying up. Going to bed too early can also disturb your sleep.

Establishing a routine around relaxation

Your daily routine, your work, when you exercise, when and what you eat and what you choose to do in your evenings, as well as your routine just before you go to bed will impact your ability to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

According to Dr Buttigieg some small changes may have a very positive impact. Before going to bed try to establish a routine based around relaxation, this may include having a warm bath, reading or whatever activity that helps you relax. Keep all screens (computers, phones, TV and tablets) and technology switched off or preferably out of the bedroom. She advises, “Your bedroom needs to be an oasis from the world. A place where you feel comfortable, secure and can forget the cares and stresses of the day. A place where you can be at peace and ‘at one’ with yourself and your partner”.