Sleep Hygiene and Migraine

Do you always wake up bright and early to your first alarm clock, or are you someone who hits that snooze button repeatedly until 30 minutes before you have to leave???

I’ve been both of these people throughout my life, so no shame if you’re a snoozer! Sometimes with migraine your sleep schedule can be all over the place. On high symptom days you may need 12+ hours of rest, and then during remission days you may find your sleep schedule to be all over the place. I understand finding the balance to a healthy sleep schedule may feel like solving a Rubix cube… and it’s always going to be a work in progress! But have you ever wondered how your sleep schedule and hygiene could be impacting your migraine??

So if you’ve been hitting snooze 15 times in a row before work for the past month and are dealing with issues like poor appetite, brain fog, dizziness, and pain throughout the day … it may be time to evaluate if that snooze button is doing more harm than good. 

I’ll let you in on a secret – it probably is! And it all has to do with a hormone called cortisol.

Let’s do a quick science refresher – cortisol is referred to as our ‘stress hormone’, although there is nothing stressful about cortisol when it’s released in the right amounts at the right times of day!

In the morning, cortisol levels rise quickly after waking to help you start your day and stimulate your appetite for breakfast.

As the day goes on, cortisol levels start to fall gradually to prepare you for a good night’s sleep… and then rises again the next morning. Rinse and repeat! 

So how can snoozing and staying in bed in the morning impact cortisol levels?

Your body is really smart – when you aren’t doing what it wants you to do it just gets louder! So when you snooze or lay in bed, your body produces even more cortisol to encourage you to wake up.

How does that impact migraine??? Increased cortisol levels can contribute to a lowered migraine threshold accompanied by symptoms such as poor appetite, brain fog, dizziness, and pain throughout the day.

If you’re relating to this big time, let’s start at the beginning with 4 simple things you can do to help you from falling victim to that snooze button:

1.) Put your phone/alarm in a hard to reach place. Hitting snooze becomes less enticing after dragging yourself across the bedroom to turn off your alarm.

2.) Upon waking, open up your windows or turn on some lights. This is going to let your body know that it’s morning and help reset those circadian rhythms. Bonus if you can get outside!

3.) Move your body! This doesn’t have to be crazy cardio or anything, just by getting up and making your bed or making a pot of coffee your brain and body are going to realize that the day is beginning.

4.) Eat breakfast (just eat something!!)! Getting some food into your system early is not only going to give you energy to start the day, but will signal to your body that you are awake and moving.

Incorporating just one of this DIY morning friendly routines can make a huge difference!

I want to hear from you – do you think cortisol and hormone levels are part of the problem for you when it comes to migraine? Have you tried what feels like everything to balance your hormones? Have you tried talking to your doctor about your concerns? Let me know in the comments!

Want more support managing migraine using a gentle, holistic approach? Click HERE to learn more about how I can help!

Reviewed by Kelli Yates, RD, LD, CLT

Published by Kathryn Darsillo, B.S Nutrition & Dietetics, Dietetic Intern

Kathryn Darsillo, is currently a Dietetic Intern with Lenoir-Rhyne University and has a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics in addition to having an Associates Culinary Arts.

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