You wake up in the morning with a heavy head. One more day with no work or play! The morning migraine can rob the charm of the day even before it begins, yet it’s avoidable if you know how.
Usually you go to bed perfectly fine and wake up in plan-altering and painful migraine. Morning migraine can be perplexing because it seems like nothing peculiar has happened during the night, or even the night before to make that happen. Some call this phenomenon “migraine upon waking” and has few evil cousins, like the Saturday Syndrome.
In most cases, it’s not a hangover. There is also no sign of a wild party a night before to remember, just painful consequences this fine morning. So, why does this happens? Is there any way to prevent another daybreak surprise this week?
What’s The Reason For Morning Migraine Pain?
While the real cause is still a mystery, we’ve come across few legitimate theories that explain it.
* Sleep issues- Migraines and sleep pattern are correlated through a complicated relationship. Both too much and too little sleep can trigger an attack. Eight out of ten migraneurs have a sleep problem.
* Natural painkillers levels are least in the morning- During early morning hours (4-8 am) the body has lowest levels of painkillers, so most headaches-including migraines, cluster headaches, and those caused due to cluster headaches-can be present and have some of their symptoms when you wake up in the morning.
* You’re still processing your yesterday’s stress- Dr. Gladwell Spierings of Tufts University states, “Most of the headaches that develop during the afternoon or early mornings were preceded by increased tension the previous days.” That may produce migraine symptoms within hours, as your brain may still be painfully processing your yesterday.
* You’re rebounding-Your brain is smart and cyclical. If you took Excedrin (that lasts 6 hours) or Triptan (that lasts 24 hours), the relief they offer will have worn off during the night. If it’s 8am and your brain expects its usual shot of java at 7m, it may definitely give you a painful reminder.
Cracking This Morning Migraine Code
Let’s assume that one of these theories is true for most of us who wake up in the morning with a migraine. You had an intense day at work. Then you came back home and decided to unwind watching your favorite episode of crime series while munching your favorite chocolate cookies. You’re little late for your bed, and again wake up at 3am because of a loud thunderstorm outside, and then calmly drift off again. You again wake up at 5 or 6am with intense pain and head pressure. You immediately hit the snooze button and try to sleep a little longer while trying to figure out how bad your pain is and how you’re going to handle it-again!
Do you know what could be happening due to this in your personal brain code- a dose of caffeine+ poor quality sleep, low natural painkillers + off-cycle sleep + work stress exposure + some weather trigger = morning migraine. There are few things that we know for sure-most triggers are addictive. And most migraineurs tend to have individualized responses to even same environmental stimuli. So there is no guarantee history is going to repeat itself. In fact, treating circumstances the same way increases chances of another big morning migraine as you rebound.
Beating Morning Migraine Blues
Make sleep a top priority. You should take at least 8-10 hours of sleep on all weekdays, including weekends. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.Try to make your bedroom quiet and cool.Keep your pets out of your bedroom and off your bed. Stay off TV and other electronic devices while you prepare for sleep. Try music or soothing meditation to help you relax. You can also take a soothing restful bath with few aromatic oils. Journal all your ideas out of your head before you hit bed. You can try favorite sleep program if that’s helpful.
Identify and limit your stressors. It’s not possible to have the same response to the work conflict, overdue bills and scary movies as someone else. That’s okay. Try to make a list of things that make you tense. Try to de-stress your brain at bedtime in a journal: what all you are grateful for, what all you need help with to manage.If you feel internal family bickering upset you in the middle of the night, try speaking to them and come up with a safe word that will clearly tell them when you’ve had enough. If a job, friend, or home appears to be your top stress trigger, you may want to give them up for a while and see if situation can improve.
Limit caffeine intake or avoid it completely. It’s not easy to say not to caffeine, but it’s possible in due course. Just keep in mind that consumption of caffeine six hours before bedtime can affect quality of your sleep. Delay morning consumption by an hour and it can become a big trigger too.
Build up a stress defense system. If you feel some need to unwind, you’re definitely stressed out. There is too much of stress in our day-to-day life, and all those who suffer from migraines need to build up a good defense against it- Laugh out loud, take a breathe deeply, have sex, talk to a friend, take a walk outside, make art, do some yoga, pet your dog-do whatever transports you to a happy place, clams you.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is important to prevent migraines. Keep your days as low-stress as possible. Avoid confrontational or challenging situations and get regular massages to help you relax when you can.
Bruxism, snoring or tooth grinding, or maybe even sleeping with a wrong pillow can cause acute discomfort that could easily trigger a migraine, so don’t overlook all these factors that could increase your risk.
Limit migraine medication use. Use migraine medications only when they are absolutely necessary to avoid any risk of rebound headaches caused by withdrawal.
Hydrate more effectively. You wake up in the morning breathing out moisture all night and process your food and drinks into urine. Even a mild dehydration can bring on headache even among those who don’t experience migraine attacks.
Learn how to manage conflict better. Nobody loves conflicts. It’s best to either avoid them, or learn to cope with them. Your brain doesn’t need to keep processing something that has already been handled efficiently. It can calmly rest like it needs to.
Accept what you can’t control. Some of these can be weather, time, people, and your monthly cycle. Try to control what you can and let go the rest. Incoming storms and menstrual cycles are two big triggers for many that cannot be avoided. The best you can do is to limit exposure to other migraine triggers. Take extra care of your healthy if you know they are coming.
You might have implemented some of these lifestyle changes, maybe, with or without success. Giving up a stressful job or caffeine you love is really hard. Don’t get discouraged at any point. Consistency is key. Just try each one of these one at a time and celebrate your progress!