Migraine Attacks & Time of Day

You may have noticed a pattern to your migraine attacks and the time of day they occur – but did you know this can give you a clue as to what’s triggering them and how to prevent them from happening in the first place!?

Today I’m taking you through the different patterns we can experience with migraine episodes throughout the day/night, and how to incorporate that information into your migraine management plan.

Morning Migraine Attacks

Waking up with an episode already in progress or having one start shortly after getting out of bed can be a rough way to start the day. If this is you, look into these potential underlying issues:

Notepad with cortisol written on it and a bottle of tablets spilled out next to it; migraine attacks
  • Sleep quality issue / sleep apnea
  • Issue with cortisol awakening response (stress hormone imbalance)
  • Nighttime blood sugar regulation issue
  • Caffeine withdrawal or medication adaptation response (“rebound”)

Mid-Afternoon Attacks

Afternoon episodes can majorly disrupt your day! Here are some common contributors I see for my clients who consistently get hit with attacks after lunch:

  • Blood sugar issue (not eating enough at breakfast and/or lunch)
  • Dehydration
  • Eye strain from staring at screens
  • Caffeine dependence (if you have caffeine some afternoons but not others)

Evening Attacks

Evening episodes tend to hit just when you’re getting ready to wind down for the day (no fair!). Here’s what they can be a sign of:

  • Stress throughout the day catching up with you (drop those shoulders and BREATHE!)
  • Not eating enough throughout the day (especially if paired with sugar cravings)
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle tension / strain

Nighttime Attacks

If you’re woken up in the middle of the night by a migraine episode, you know how much that can impact your life! Start thinking about:

  • Sleep apnea / other sleep disorder
  • Nighttime blood sugar regulation issue
  • Time for a new pillow / mattress
  • Hypnic headaches (if your episodes ONLY occur at night)

What you can do

If you haven’t already, start keeping track of when your migraine episodes occur and any notable triggers that happen around your episodes. This can help you see patterns that you otherwise miss!

Regardless of the time of day your attacks occur, it’s important to:

a woman sitting on a couch contemplating her migraine diary
  • Eat regularly throughout the day (including a bedtime snack if appropriate)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take breaks from screens throughout the day and move your body
  • Incorporate a daily stress management practice like deep breathing or spending time in nature
  • Talk with your doctor about possible sleep quality issues or other concerns you have

Need help with a whole-body approach to migraine so you can more clearly make connections about issues like migraine attacks & time of day? You can learn more about working with me inside my Raise Your Threshold program HERE.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on managing migraine.

Published by Kelli Yates, RDN, LD, CLT

Kelli Yates, RDN, LD, CLT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in holistic migraine management and fellow migraineur!

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