Sleep and Migraines

By Annette GallagherSeptember 29, 2015July 6th, 2021No Comments

Poor Sleep May Trigger Migraines

Lack of sufficient, restful sleep leads to all kinds of disruptive issues including fatigue, bad moods, inability to concentrate and more. If you experience migraines and don’t sleep well, the two conditions may be related. Sleep problems, including insomnia, are known to trigger migraines, and it comes down to how much restful sleep you get during the night.

How We Sleep

While we sleep, our bodies pass through several sleep phases, alternating between rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and period of deep sleep. Rapid eye movement sleep, as the name implies, is characterized by eye movement. Watch a person in REM sleep and you can see their eyes moving around under their closed eyelids. REM sleep usually occurs between 4 and 6 times throughout the night, and it is when we dream.

Between the REM phases we experience periods of deep sleep. Deep sleep is dreamless and during it the eyes cease to move around. Although scientist still have unanswered questions about the process of sleep and the body’s need for it, it is known that deep sleep is necessary for the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Along with oxytocin and endorphins, serotonin and dopamine are called the “feel good” neurotransmitters and are responsible for feelings of motivation and happiness. Decreased levels of these neurotransmitters can lead to sleep problems and even depression. If you experience at least a couple of the following symptoms, it may be due to a lack of sufficient deep sleep and too many REM phases:

  • Morning headaches
  • Waking with body aches and pain
  • Tiredness and fatigue, even after drinking coffee
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression

What Does This Mean to Migraine Sufferers?

Poor sleep is associated with too many REM phases and insufficient deep sleep. Sleep associated migraines tend to occur immediately following a rapid eye movement phase. In addition, insufficient non-rapid eye movement sleep can lead to psychological disorders like depression. For this reason, if you suffer from both poor sleep and migraines, determining which is causing which is the first step to getting the problem under control.

If your migraines are the cause of your poor sleep, then the goal will be to find the cause of your headaches and address that first. The headache experts at Miami Headache Institute can diagnose your headaches and get to their root. By finding the best treatment to reduce or eliminate your particular headache symptoms, restful sleep will follow.

Tips For Better Sleep

If it turns out that your lack of proper sleep is causing your migraines, and not the other way around, you should try some practices that can lead to more restful sleep. Start by keeping a sleep diary to record your sleep habits and any instances of sleep related migraines that occur during the night or in the morning. By studying your sleep diary, you may notice a pattern that can be addressed. Here are some other things that can lead to more restful sleep.

  • Avoid using backlit devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones before bedtime
  • Turn off the lights, television and electronic devices before to sleep
  • Avoid eating or drinking a lot of water close to bedtime
  • Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime
  • Develop a regular sleep schedule
  • Cut down on or eliminate caffeine

These are proven methods to get a better night’s sleep and may help diminish sleep associated headaches. Most importantly, if your headaches are disrupting your sleep and daily activities, call Miami Headache Institute. Our doctors are headache specialist and can help you with sleep related migraines and all types of headaches.

Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the founder of the Miami Headache and Neurological Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi’s medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.

Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.