When most of us think about migraine triggers, we think of food. Things like caffeine, chocolate, bananas, red wine, and old cheese.
But triggers – those things that set off the migraine chain-reaction for certain people – are a very individual thing. And the truth is, patients report many triggers that aren’t foods.
One of the most common triggers, in fact, is a change in schedule. That includes changes in sleep schedule. Sleeping too little, too much, or even sleeping in.
If you have migraine disease, your body is probably very sensitive to changes. And when you think about it, on any given day a change in schedule is actually a pretty big deal.
Just why a change in schedule makes such a big difference probably varies from person to person. Sometimes it may have to do with a change in meal times. When you sleep in, and eat breakfast later, or even drink that first cup of coffee later, your body notices. This may be one of the reasons why some people tend to get “weekend headaches”.
Sleep disorders may also wreak havoc on your body. You’re always trying to catch up on your rest, taking naps at odd times, waking up tired. If you’re not feeling refreshed from your sleep, it could be a sign of a number of issues, including restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, problems with medications, even mental health problems.
The bottom line is this. Pay attention to your daily schedule – especially your sleep schedule. Ask yourself, what’s keeping it from being consistent? And what can you do about it?
- Is it simply a matter of discipline – going to bed and getting up at the same time each day?
- Could you do certain things to help you get a deeper sleep? Turn of the computer/TV/smart phone a couple of hours earlier? Ease up on the afternoon caffeine?
- Do you need to talk to your doctor about the medications/”painkillers” you’re taking, and make some adjustments?
- Do you need to see a specialist about your sleep patterns? Could there be another disorder that’s knocking your schedule off-kilter?
- Do you need to discuss the problem with your boss, or your family?
Don’t ignore problems with a constantly changing schedule, or interruptions in your normal sleep schedule. These things are actually very common triggers for migraine attacks.
Again, it’s not just a matter of a lack of sleep, although that is a big problem. Even sleeping more than usual could trigger a serious migraine attack. Pay attention, keep a diary, and you may find a powerful new way to fight migraine.