Better Sleep Patterns Can Decrease Migraine Frequency and Intensity

December 9th, 2011

A study done at the University of North Carolina by sleep specialist, Dr. Anne Calhoun found that by improving sleeping habits, women decreased their headache frequency by 29% and the intensity of the migraines they did get, by 40%.

When the number of migraine days per month is under 15, the patient is diagnosed with episodic migraine.  If 15 or more per month, the patient is considered to have chronic migraines.

The women in this study originally had episodic migraines that over a course of years converted to chronic migraines.  (This is called transformed migraine.  i.e. transformed from episodic to chronic).

It is believed that transformed migraines can come about due to multiple factors like: poor sleep habits and/or pain killing medication over-use.

86% of the women in the study reported non-restorative sleep.  In simple terms this means they still felt tired when they awoke in the morning. 80% of them watched TV or read in bed.  70% awakened between 1-6 times a night to urinate.

The women were instructed to:

  • Move dinnertime to 4 hours before bed time
  • Limit fluids taken 2 hours before bedtime
  • Allow for 8 hours a night of sleep and not to vary their bedtimes more than 30 minutes
  • Not to listen to music, read, or watch TV in bed
  • Not to over-use migraine medications
  • Stop taking naps (even though they were tired from poor sleep)

Improvements in migraine frequency happened rather quickly after implementing the “better” sleeping habits.  Within a month and a half, 35% of the group reported fewer migraines.

By the end of 3 months 58% of the women who implemented the recommended sleep changes went back to being only episodic sufferers.

The good news is that these recommendations work and that all except one of the women who implemented ALL of the recommendations reverted to being episodic from chronic.

The bad news is that women kept three or more of the bad sleep habits they didn’t improve.

So discipline is important.  Implement all of the recommended sleep changes, they are really not that hard.

What may also prove to be very exciting is to implement these sleep habit changes and combine them with doing 3-4 days a week of moderate exercise (i.e. brisk walking, moderate weight-resistance with dumb bells). Recent studies have shown that moderate exercise 3-4 days a week can prevent migraines as well as a prescription medication.

Do both of the above and don’t forget to take your MigreLief (www.migrelief.com ) and your migraines may very well be a thing of the past.

 

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S