Here's How To Deal With Migraines At Night When All You Want To Do Is Get Some Sleep
As busy as I am with work and grad school, if I have even one night of restless sleep, I'm sure to feel the effects for the next week or so. While I'm lucky enough not to have to deal with migraines, I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to be woken up by that kind of excruciating pain in the middle of the night, or to have to lie down in bed and will myself to sleep through the discomfort. If you're struggling and can't quite figure out how to deal with migraines at night, rest assured, there are ways to find a little relief.
According to Jerry Swanson, M.D., a board-certified neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, headaches that happen only during sleep are called hypnic headaches. "Hypnic headaches usually awaken a person at the same time every night, but it's also possible to have daytime naps interrupted by hypnic headaches," he wrote in a 2016 article for the medical center. And while these types of headaches tend to be most common in people who are over 50 years old, Swanson explained, it's possible to suffer from this discomfort at a younger age, too. So if you get regular migraines throughout the night, be sure to talk to your doctor about what's going on.
In the meantime, if you wake up in the middle of the night with a nasty headache, or you can't seem to doze off in the midst of your relentless pain, here are some solutions you can try, so you can get back to your peaceful snooze time.
Consider getting a mouthguard
A couple of months ago, I realized I was grinding my teeth at night. More than once, I woke up in pain, and gradually figured out that teeth-grinding was causing my discomfort. If you're having nighttime migraines, this could be something to look into.
"The canine teeth or the cuspids just to the sides of the incisors, should have nice points on them," Dr. Gary Lowder, a professor and practicing dentist at the University of Utah School of Dentistry, explained in a interview with the school's health radio show, The Scope. "If those points are missing and they're flattened, that means that you have been doing some grinding and abrading of your tooth structure and it can be a factor in headaches."
If you think this might be the culprit behind your nighttime migraines, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist so you can get fitted for a mouthguard and start catching up on your shut-eye.
Start carefully tracking your sleep
According to the American Migraine Foundation, almost half of all migraines occur between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. If you're regularly experiencing migraines throughout the night, the organization recommends that you start keeping a close log of your nightly sleep details.
For instance, the foundation explains, write down what time you go to bed and wake up, how restful you feel your sleep was once you're awake in the morning, and remember to pay extra attention to whether or not you wake up at all in the middle of the night. Having this information could be very useful when working with your doctor to figure out what's going on.
Make sure you're sleeping the right amount
While sometimes it's impossible to get a full night's sleep due to a hectic workload or even just a night out with your friends, if you aren't prioritizing a healthy sleep schedule on a regular basis, that could be the reason why you're having migraines at night all the time. According to a study published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders, getting too little or too much sleep could lead to tension headaches or migraines.
With that in mind, be sure to aim for the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, especially if you've been dealing with headache pain recently.
Try to relax
"If you find yourself awake at night with a migraine, take any medication you've been prescribed," Dr. Ziv Peled, a migraine specialist and peripheral nerve surgery expert, tells Elite Daily in an email. "Try to go to a quiet place and practice stretching or calming techniques like meditation or deep breathing."
Sure, it might seem counterintuitive, but if you're just lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, and the pain you're experiencing doesn't seem to be going anywhere, doing some stretching and deep breathing is certainly better than just waiting out the discomfort.
Stay as consistent as possible
Regardless of what you do to try to soothe your migraines, it's important to stick to a strategy for a while to see whether it's truly effective. “I often tell patients migraines don’t like change because change in weather (barometric pressure), change in hormones, change in eating patterns, change in stress levels, and change in sleep patterns can all trigger headaches,” John Pettinato, DO, a neurologist with the Comprehensive Headache Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told Everyday Health.
So whether you're adjusting something in your sleep schedule, your diet, or your living space to accommodate your migraines, do your best to let those changes run their course before you decide to switch things up again. Patience is key, my friend.