The Connection Between Sleep & Migraines

The connection between sleep and migrainesIn previous articles, we’ve talked about how to reduce migraines through diet and how to decrease migraines by improving neck and shoulder health. In this article, we’ll cover the connection between sleep and migraines, as well as a handful of simple strategies to improve the quality of your sleep — which in turn can reduce migraine occurrence.

What is the Connection between Sleep & Migraines?
Did you know getting too little, or too much sleep can cause a migraine? Anyone who experiences insufficient sleep knows that it can be a vicious cycle, because lack of sleep is causing a migraine, which in turn causes poor sleep. Sometimes it may appear that you’re getting enough sleep, based on the number of hours you spend in bed. But if you’re waking up with a migraine, feeling run down and unrested, there’s a good chance that the quality of your sleep was poor.

If you’re experiencing poor sleep and migraines, it’s always a good idea to speak with your health practitioner. That being said, here are a few simple strategies you can employ to improve your sleep quality …

Experiment with Sleep Length
If getting five or six hours of sleep has you waking up with a migraine, you might need to get to bed (or stay in bed) an extra hour or two. On the flip side, if you’re getting nine or ten hours of solid sleep, but waking up with a migraine, try getting up an hour or two earlier.

Avoid Electronic Devices Before Bed
We know, easier said than done. But if you’re not sleeping well, isn’t it worth missing an hour of email, Facebook or your favorite game in exchange for a good night’s sleep?

Establish a Pre-sleep Routine
The more ritualistic you make your pre-sleep routine, the more meditative and calming it can become. It’s not just about what time you brush your teeth and what time you go to bed. It’s also about what you’re doing in those in-between moments.

Get Meditative & Mindful
Continuing on our previous point, things like deep breaths, reading a calming book or listening to soothing music can help put you in a more Zen-like state that’s more sleep friendly. Meditation and listening to binaural beats is also very effective.

Darken Your Bedroom
Get rid of night lights, and make sure your blinds and curtains block out most or all of the light emanating from outside.

Implement Standard Sleep Hours
Go to sleep and get up at the same time as much as possible. Once you’ve created a consistent routine, your body will have an easier time sleeping. This includes weekends!

If You Nap, Keep it Short
Naps should last between 15-30 minutes. Longer times may affect your sleep at night.

Avoid Late Night Stimulants
Stay away from coffee, soda or anything caffeinated. It’s also a good idea to refrain from intense exercise late at night. Heavy meals, alcohol and nicotine are also stimulants that can disrupt your sleep.

Become a Fan of Your Ceiling Fan
It’s a great way to create a natural sound dampener, which masks distracting noises during the night.

Check Medications
Some drugs can interfere with sleep. If you’re unsure, speak with your health practitioner to see what the side effects are regarding your medications.

Use a Supportive Pillow
As the makers of the Natural Comfort Pillow, we know how important a role your pillow plays in the quality of your sleep. A supportive pillow can help reduce the neck joint and muscle “triggers” that can pre-empt a true migraine. Learn more about how our pillow can help you sleep better.

Thank you for visiting Natural Comfort Pillow. We hope these tips help reduce your migraines and improve your sleep!

Decreasing Migraines by Improving Neck & Shoulder Health

Neck and Shoulder Pain ReductionIn a recent article, we talked about reducing migraines through diet. This week, we’re going to focus on simple ways to reduce neck and shoulder pain, which often leads to decreased migraines — not to mention a better quality of life. But first, let’s take a quick look at some common causes of neck and shoulder pain …

Common Causes of Neck & Shoulder Pain

  • Stress or tension, which causes compression of spinal nerves (known as a “pinched nerve”)
  • Arthritis
  • A herniated disk
  • Muscle strain caused by overuse (sports- or labor-related)
  • Any kind trauma injury
  • Shoulder instability (joint slippage in and out of sockets)
  • Poor posture when sitting or standing
  • Spinal misalignment when sleeping (caused by use of a non-supportive pillow)  

Reducing Neck & Shoulder Pain
One of the easiest ways realize better neck and shoulder health is by using a supportive pillow. In addition to reducing pain, a supportive pillow can also help you sleep better. This combination of proper support, which aligns the spine, and better sleep is a highly effective way to reduce migraine occurrences.

How Our Pillow Helps

  • For Back-lying Sleepers: A multi-bolster system, created by leading Australian physiotherapists, cradles the neck for proper spine alignment
  • For Side-lying Sleepers: The non-bolster side of our pillow supports your shoulder while maintaining spinal alignment
  • With proper spine alignment, your muscles are in a position where they can relax, instead of being tensed up, which helps decrease the occurrence of pain and migraines
  • Migraines are often triggered by a poor night’s sleep; using a pillow that reduces pain can go a long way in helping you sleep better 

Additional Ways to Reduce Neck & Shoulder Pain
Speaking with your doctor is always a good idea when addressing chronic neck or shoulder pain. Seeing a licensed massage therapist, physical therapist, or a chiropractor are also smart strategies. When choosing one of these specialized health professionals, look for experience and a proven track record, as opposed to who’s offering the best price. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Stretching and exercise are also two options that help reduce neck and shoulder pain. But if you’re in pain, it may be difficult to stretch or exercise without causing more pain. Again, forming a plan with a health professional can assist in helping you feel better, while avoiding further injury or pain.

Aerobic conditioning is often an excellent way to help the neck and shoulders loosen up, reduce pain and increase range of motion. This occurs because aerobic activity increases blood flow to the muscles and soft tissues of the neck and upper back (your whole body, actually). It also helps release endorphins (after approximately 30 minutes of aerobic activity), which naturally reduce pain in the body.

We hope these strategies help reduce pain and improve the quality of your life!

Learn more about how our pillow can help with neck pain and shoulder pain.

Reducing Migraines Through Diet

Reducing Migraines Through DietAnyone who’s ever experienced a migraine knows how debilitating it can be.

In addition to consulting with your doctor, there are many simple, safe things you can try that may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Today we’d like to focus on diet — specifically how what we eat and drink can affect our migraines.

Let’s examine what types of foods and drinks can help reduce migraines, as well as some of the things a migraine sufferer should avoid.

Help Prevent Migraines by Eating the Following:

Also known as B2, riboflavin has been shown to help reduce the occurrence of migraines dramatically. A healthy daily intake is somewhere around 400mg. You’ll find vitamin B2 in crimini mushrooms, asparagus, low-fat milk, spinach, calf liver and quinoa. It can take up to 2-3 months of taking enough riboflavin daily before you notice any real difference in the frequency and severity of your migraines.

Similar to riboflavin, many people are magnesium deprived and don’t know it. Raising your daily intake to about 450mg per day can help put migraines at bay. Spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, as are bananas, sunflower seeds and sweet potatoes. Magnesium is also a key ingredient in keeping blood vessels functioning normally.

Found predominantly in cold-water fish like halibut, salmon, tuna and sardines, omega-3 fatty acids have an array of benefits for the body — including improved heart, skin and brain health. With improved brain health comes diminished migraines. Don’t worry, if you’re not a fish person you can also get your daily dose of omegas from non-fish sources like flax seeds. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using a quality product like Udo’s Choice Omega 3-6-9 blend, which can be found in gel tab and liquid form.

You’ve probably heard that an adult’s body is made up of 50-65% water. Like everything else we’ve mentioned so far, many people don’t get enough of it. When our bodies are dehydrated, headaches and migraines can occur. It’s important to stay hydrated through out the day, but if you feel a migraine coming on grab a refreshing glass of water or two and see if it helps.

Help Prevent Migraines by Avoiding the Following:

High amounts of salt can induce a migraine. Once you start reading food labels, you may find high concentrations of salt in places you didn’t expect. Soups are notorious for having high amounts of salt (also called sodium), but did you know even a can of soda contains salt? Become label savvy and you just might get less migraines.

Aside from being bad for your heart and arteries, too many “bad” fats like cholesterol and triglycerides can sometimes cause an increase in migraines. Reduce intake for overall improved health.

I’m a coffee lover, but I’ve experienced first hand how too much coffee can cause a migraine. Some studies have shown that the caffeine in coffee, in small amounts, can actually stay off a headache. The key words here are “small amounts.” In larger quantities, caffeine of any kind can bring on a migraine, sometimes incredibly quickly.

Many red wines contain sulfites, which are preservatives that have been linked to migraines. If you notice that you’re frequently getting headaches after a glass of red wine, it’s quite possible the wine is the cause.

Keep a Food Diary

This is a critical component in figuring out what helps, and what triggers migraines. I had found that a glass of wine with dinner, followed by a cup of coffee was a migraine-inducing combination. I’ve also known people that got migraines whenever they ate bacon (high sodium) and chocolate at the same time. With a food diary, you’ll quickly be able to discern what foods are helping or hurting your body, making it easier to make dietary changes that can improve your life.

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Thank you for visiting Natural Comfort Pillow!