Are Sleep Disorders Related to Migraines?

Are your migraines triggered by sleep problems? Sleep and migraines are closely related. Many people with migraines have trouble falling and staying asleep. Learn some tips to sleep better with migraines.


Do you have migraines on a regular basis? Migraines are very common — affecting up to 80 million Americans, according to experts. These debilitating painful headaches — sometimes accompanied by visual disturbances and nausea, can make you want to crawl into bed and stay there all day.

If you suffer from the intense pain of migraines, you might wonder what things trigger these attacks, so that you can prevent them. There are a variety of things that can cause a migraine, including stress. Research suggests that a lack of sleep could be another factor. Studies suggest that when you don’t sleep enough, it increases the risk of migraine the following day. When you are fatigued, you are more likely to have a migraine.

Migraines and Sleep Problems

Many people with migraines have trouble falling or staying asleep. Scientific evidence shows that sleep problems can trigger these painful attacks. In one study, sleep disturbances were present in 49 percent of participants who experienced a migraine the next day. When it comes to migraines, the quality of sleep is more important than the number of hours that you sleep.

A change in one’s normal sleep schedule increases the risk of having a migraine attack. That could explain why those who engage in shift work or have jet lag are more likely to suffer from migraines. This also means that daylight savings time changes can lead to migraines for some people.

It’s clear that a lack of sleep can trigger migraine, but migraine can also cause sleep disturbances. Migraine interferes with the production of chemicals that your brain needs to sleep. This can cause you to lack quality sleep, have trouble falling asleep, and not get enough deep sleep. When you don’t sleep well, that can make your migraine worse.

Sleep Tips if You Have Migraines

Implementing better sleep habits can help reduce the risk of migraines. Consistency with your sleep is the key to managing migraines. According to the American Headache Society, improving sleep habits can lead to fewer migraines in just a few months. Here are some tips for getting a better night’s sleep when you have migraines.


Set a Sleep Schedule

Migraines are associated with changes in sleep schedule. Therefore, it’s important to have a set time in which you go to bed and wake up each day. This will help keep your body’s circadian rhythm in check. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed. Avoid variations in your sleep schedule — even on the weekends.

Keep a Sleep Diary

Tracking your sleep can help you figure out how much sleep you actually get each night. You should also keep records of your migraines along with your sleep data so that you can determine if they are related to your sleep patterns. Using Pillow is a great way to effortlessly track your sleep. If you notice a connection between poor sleep and migraines, then you’ll definitely want to talk to your doctor.

Try a Relaxing Bedtime Meditation

There’s a growing body of research that shows that meditation can reduce the incidence of migraines. One 2020 study found that mindfulness meditation improved quality of life, depression, and pain in migraine patients. Scientific research suggests that meditation is effective in treating some sleep problems, as well. A relaxing sleep meditation can help you get better sleep. Sleep meditation helps calm the nervous system and creates the perfect conditions for natural sleep. Choose a meditation that is specifically designed for sleep. You can find these by downloading Pillow.

Avoid Caffeine

If you are tired from a lack of sleep, you might be tempted to reach for a cup of coffee, tea or even an energy drink to help you stay awake and energized. Research has found that drinking caffeine six hours before bedtime can significantly disrupt sleep. It delays REM sleep and interferes with deep sleep. You should aim to drink your last cup of coffee at least seven hours or more before bedtime. Some experts recommend cutting off caffeine 12 hours before bedtime just to be safe.

Establish a Bedtime Ritual

Bedtime routines are calming. They help our brain and body wind down and signal that it’s time for bed. You can start your bedtime routine one hour before bedtime by turning off your TV and putting away all your electronics. It’s important to turn off screens because the blue light that they emit interferes with the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps your body sleep. It also shifts circadian rhythms, which interferes with your natural sleep schedule. You can also include a warm bath, breathing exercises, or a calming sleep story in your relaxing sleep routine, or a calming sleep story.

Don’t Eat Close to Bedtime

Eating a large meal right before bed can make it harder to fall asleep. Studies have shown that if a person eats a large meal before bedtime, they are more likely to wake up throughout the night. Eating late at night can also lead to poor sleep quality. That is because it takes your body several hours to digest food. The digestive process can interfere with your sleep. Also, you are more likely to experience acid reflux if you eat before bed, which can keep you awake. If you are hungry, it’s fine to eat a small healthy snack like Greek yogurt or an apple with peanut butter. But, avoid eating a large meal at least three hours before bed. That will give your body enough time to digest food.

Make Sure You Have a Supportive Pillow

Having the right pillow can make you more comfortable which can increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. A pillow that is too firm or soft can lead to head and nack pain and increase the risk of migraines. If your pillow is older than two years, it’s time to toss it. When choosing a new pillow, look for one that is supportive and relieves pressure. A memory foam pillow works well in most cases.


Written by

Emily Mendez

Emily Mendez is a former therapist and mental health author. She is one of the leading voices in mental health. Emily's writing has appeared in eCounseling, SonderMind, and more. Emily is frequently interviewed by Healthline, Fatherly, INSIDER, Family Circle, and other national media for her advice and expert opinion on the latest mental health topics.

Copyright © Neybox Digital Ltd.