Migraine after Sun Exposure?

No, you’re not the only one who gets a migraine attack after being out in the sun.  It’s actually pretty common.  But why?

There could be a number of reasons.  Here are common migraine after sun explanations:

Migraine after sun?
  • Migraineurs are simply more sensitive to light.  I don’t mean during an attack, although that may be true as well.  Migraineurs are often simply more sensitive all the time.  A study in the far north, for example, found that migraineurs were more likely to have attacks during the times of the year when there was more sunshine.
  • Change.  Migraineurs tend to be more sensitive to change.  If you’re suddenly going from dark to light, or if you’re spending time out in the heat, sudden changes in your body could trigger an attack.
  • Hydration!  Being out in the sun could mean you just need to drink more liquids.
  • Flickering.  Yes, the high contrast flicker between sunlight and shadows, such as flickering light through the trees as you drive by, could trigger an attack.
  • Weather patterns.  Some researchers believe that weather systems that are warm and humid (the passage of a warm front with low pressure) may trigger migraine attacks.  Often these weather systems have overcast skies, but not always.

What can I do about it?

Here are some tips to avoid the sun migraine trigger:

  • Stay hydrated – carry a bottle of water.
  • Slow down – warm up, cool off, especially if you’re exercising.  Avoid going from a dark room into bright sunlight.
  • Check with your optometrist – make sure it’s not an eye problem that’s making things worse.
  • Try a quality pair of sunglasses – suggestions here:  How Sunglasses are helping fight Migraine and Precision Tinted – Especially to Fight Migraine.
  • Avoid flickering – if you can, look away or close your eyes to avoid flickering light.

Also, consider the tips in the article and tips from our visitors (comments below) for headache after working out.

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14 comments… add one
  • Jessica Madore May 30, 2012

    My “sun” limit is about 30 minutes in direct sun, 1 hour in nondirect, and about 2 hours in heat above 80 degrees. Sucks since I live in Florida….I am able to swim for about an 1 1/2 before it’s too much tho so that’s good. AC is my best friend! lol

  • Terri Branham May 30, 2012

    The sunlight coming thru my bdrm window in the morning, loud noises, and wearing my reading glasses are some of the triggers for my migraines. 🙁

  • PainInTheHead Jul 31, 2012

    5 minutes and I am toast. I get so many vampire jokes, I’ve started checking for fangs. The pain from light – almost any light but especially sunlight has gotten so bad over the years that I can’t wear my Rx glasses indoors or out. ‘Nuff to bring a wrestler to his knees- and puke.

    ‘Can’t wait to try these glasses.

    • Rose Dec 17, 2012

      Hey I know all about the Risen Dead Jokes!! People think I am weird because I sleep through the day and am about at night. Even medical people keep saying that I am not doing myself any good for being nocturnal. I don’t see any sense in waking up in the morning only to be back in bed by 10am and I am the one who has to put up with the pain. My childhood years taught me to keep away from sunlight. My biggest problem is not having any human contact.

  • Ashley Sep 1, 2013

    OMG this is so me. Finally something that makes sense. Anyone have suggestions on being able to make it longer outside? Limit now is like fifteen minutes

  • cher coulter May 27, 2016

    Wondering if headaches from sun exposure may be from the increased Vitamin D without enough Magnesium to process it. Check out this link: http://www.vitamindwiki.com/Headache+with+vitamin+D+may+mean+you+need+Magnesium

    • Robbie McKinney Jun 11, 2017

      Hmmmmm. My wife gets migraines with sun exposure. She also has a chronic low magnesium issue. This makes sense. Thank you for the food for thought.

  • RubberDuckySUN Oct 6, 2016

    Put me in the sun and i’m DONE like a ducky! This little puppy cannot stand heat, so unless you like your ducks or pups well done, leave me in the shade with a cool lemonade!

  • SHIRLEY ERICKSON Jun 27, 2017


  • Bryan Aug 14, 2017

    Axonoptics.com has glasses and sunglasses that filter certain wavelengths of light that can cause migraines.

  • Stacy Aug 15, 2017

    Boy can I relate. I live in Florida as well & we own a lawn care business! I can only manage about 1 hour then the headache begins & the rest of my day is resting with an ice pack. Would love to be like others & enjoy being outside 😔

  • Lina Arias Sep 6, 2017

    It is difficult to deal with constant migraines, my daughter is now 13yrs old and since she was a baby neither my husband or I could spent a lot of time outdoors without ruining the rest of our day. Somehow this makes me feel like a lazy and careless mom. I live in CA and the sky here is so beautiful rarely cloudy therefore lots of sunlight…lots of migraines. I have been trying to find sunglasses but they are very very expensive…out of our budget for a pair of glasses. I use a big hat but lately I have noticed is not helping because my head still overheats and only 10min walking to my car is enough to ruin my day. To all of you thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • Salomey Whyte Nov 24, 2017

      Whenever i walk in the sun i have serious headache.So when I get home i have to lay down for some time before it gradually goes and that one i have to prevent seeing bright light and too much noise

  • Bonnie Sep 10, 2017

    Certain colors of light in windows bother me too. (Sun through yellow glass).
    Flickering candles, fans, telephone poles, grocery store (big box store) lights.
    I have dark shades and lighter for indoors. My windows have blackout shades in a neutral color and they’re great!
    Migraines are funny. Usually you are sensitive to sun and other things too like heat.
    I’m sensitive to everything! If I try to exercise I get sick…even walking. Noise, scent, temperature changes, foods.

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