Could Your Desk Job Be Giving You a Headache?

By Annette GallagherFebruary 17, 2016No Comments

Is your desk job causing you headaches? Sitting for long hours – working on a computer, for example – can be detrimental to your physical well-being. In an office, you are sedentary for most hours of the day, staring at screens, meeting stressful deadlines, and all of these things can really take their toll on your body.

Computer Screens

First and foremost, if you find yourself getting a headache day in and day out, it may be your computer. Endlessly staring at a computer screen can give you headaches, and even migraines. The strain from staring at the screen can also do harm to your vision, which in turn can cause headaches. As your eyes strain, your head can really start to scream.

The blue light from the screen can affect your ability to sleep at night, too, and lack of sleep is often a migraine trigger.

Try to limit the screen’s glare, and the time you spend looking at it. Some companies now sell migraine glasses with an FL-41 tint that filters certain wavelengths, whch helps in reducing the frequency of migraines.


Excessive sitting can lead to tension headaches. Most people working in an office sit for most of the day. Their posture can become strained during this time, which creates a lot of neck and shoulder tension, and this leads to headaches.

To avoid so much sitting, stand up and walk around once every hour. Instead of emailing your colleague, walk to their office and chat face-to-face. Some offices are even trying standing desks to alleviate the problem.

Don’t skip meals

Many people are so rushed to get to work on time that they skip breakfast. Don’t! Skipping meals is a migraine trigger.

Prepare a quick shake before you rush out the door, or buy protein bars (check ingredients and look for ones with low sugar and fewer chemicals) to eat on the way.

Avoid fast food

Eating fast food for lunch every day can also cause migraines. Migraine headaches have been linked to MSG and other nitrates found in processed foods, like cured meats, aged cheeses and fast food.

Make sure to pack yourself a healthy lunch the night before, so it’s ready to go in the morning. Take a walk at lunch and eat outdoors if possible.

Fresh air

The air in your office is likely recirculated and it can rob you of the oxygen your brain needs. This is called “Sick Building Syndrome” by the EPA. Take a few minutes to go outside and get some fresh air throughout the day. Some migraine sufferers even bring portable oxygen tanks with them to work, as inhalation therapy.

Smell triggers

Many people have headaches that are triggered by some odors, like printer and copier chemicals (especially in small rooms that are not well-ventilated). Photocopiers are a source of ozone if the filters are not changed regularly, and that smell can often trigger a headache, even in small amounts.

If you are sensitive to smells, avoid making copies. If you sit near the copier, ask to have it moved or if you can move.

Sufficient sleep

As stated before, lack of sleep can trigger migraines or tension headaches, and working too many hours can definitely impact your sleep. More work hours also creates more stress and tension in the body (and in your life) which can often lead to a tension headache. Try not to overwork yourself. If you can, keep a regular schedule and get the right amount of sleep each night.

National Headache Institute

If you are suffering from headaches, but are not sure what kind, or what’s triggering them, consult with the specialists at the National Headache Institute today. We can help you understand their causes and how to avoid them, while providing the headache relief you need.