Migraine Friendly Lifestyle
There are a number of changes you can make in your life that could help reduce your migraines
while also improving your overall health and wellbeing.
The importance of regular good quality sleep for migraine sufferers can not be overemphasised. Many migraine sufferers report that they suffer more migraines at the weekend. This can often be caused by the person sleeping longer at the weekends and this change in sleeping patterns can trigger a migraine.
On the other hand sleeping too little when working late, parenting young children or travelling can also trigger migraines. Maintaining a migraine diary may help you identify if sleep is a migraine trigger for you. Stress and chronic pain can also cause sleepless nights and insomnia. Stress reduction techniques and gentle exercise, such as yoga or pilates, may improve the quality of your sleep.
The UK Charity the Migraine Trust has a very comprehensive and useful article on the importance of quality sleep for people with migraine.
Read a report on the importance of quality sleep by The Surrey Sleep Research Centre at University of Surrey on our blog.
Exercise is a double edged sword for people with migraine. There are several lines of evidence and studies supporting the role of exercise in migraine management and almost everybody can benefit from some form of exercise.
But some types of exercise can trigger migraines in some people and men particularly seem to suffer from migraines after strenuous exercise.
The important thing is to find a type of exercise that you enjoy and benefits you. Oxygen benefits brain health so even walking will benefit the migraine sufferer. The environmental factors in gyms may not suit some people with the bright lights, loud noises, smells, air conditioning and/or heating systems triggering migraines in some people.
Find a “migraine-friendly” form of exercise that suits you and keep trying different types of exercise until you find the one that works for you.
Many people report that regular yoga practice has helped reduce their migraines. Yoga is also beneficial in stress reduction so this too may feed into a positive outcome for people with migraine. Researchers believe yoga increases the chemical serotonin, which relays signals from one area of the brain to another. Serotonin also eases the tightening of the brain’s blood vessels, so migraines and serotonin levels are believed to be closely related.
Stress is a migraine trigger for many people. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston conducted a study in 2017 to see if they could predict a migraine attack. The single biggest predictor for migraine in their study was stress. If patients experienced more stressful circumstances a migraine attack was likely to occur. Stress reduction techniques are an important element of self management for the migraine sufferer.
Try these stress reduction techniques.
- Try to assess your medication intake and ensure you are not overusing medications. Medications can affect your body’s hormonal balances and physical processes.
- Take time out every day for yourself whether to read a book, go for walk or practice a hobby you love.
- Try to identify what is causing extra stress in your life. Some stress such as caring for children or adult dependants is unavoidable, but assessing extra stressors in your life and reducing them could help prevent regular migraine attacks.
- Get regular quality sleep.
- Exercise for 30 minutes each day
- Practice stress reduction therapies such as meditation, mindfulness or biofeedback.
- Talk to your employer and explain how stress triggers migraines in your life. Work together with your employer and colleagues to improve project planning and work management practices to reduce stress in the workplace
Empowerment through Education
Over the last 25 years, the feedback we have from people who connect with The Migraine Association is that the patient education seminars and courses they’ve attended have made a huge difference in their lives in terms of understanding their migraine attacks and improving their quality of life by reducing the number of migraine attacks they are experiencing.
Our seminars and courses are free to attend for anyone. Understanding your triggers, educating yourself about the best pharmacological and non pharmacological options to treat your migraines and understanding how diet and lifestyle can trigger attacks is one of the most effective way to better manage your condition. Find out what events are taking place in your region.