Why Lack Of Sleep May Cause Migraines

According to the American Headache Society, about 12% of the US population suffers from migraine headaches. While most of these sufferers have only one or two attacks per month or even less, about 3% of migraine sufferers have chronic migraine pain, suffering from an attack at least 15 days out of every month.

Although getting enough sleep is an important way to counter migraines, having a regular sleep schedule is important as well.

If you are not getting enough sleep lately, you likely see an inability to perform daily functions you normally have no trouble with. Concentrating becomes more difficult and every annoying little thing sets you off. Worse than these are the new migraines you may be experiencing.

A recent study from Missouri State University suggests that a lack of sleep can trigger the start of migraines or cause them to be more frequent in the 12% of Americans who already occasionally suffer from them. The biological link between sleep and headaches is the topic of the research being performed at MSU.

The main test subjects for this study are rats. When these animals are prevented from obtaining an ordinary level of REM sleep, the researchers noted a change of key proteins that are active in suppressing and triggering chronic pain. With sleep deprivation, proteins that arouse the nervous system are released in much higher quantities than the proteins that slow it down.

Also, two important proteins linked with migraines and chronic pain were seen to increase in the rats that were prevented from getting REM sleep. This can start a vicious cycle, as people who have a hard time getting enough sleep develop migraines, but then the migraines prevent them from getting enough sleep to lessen the number and intensity of their migraines.

Interestingly, getting too much sleep can also trigger these severe headaches. The concept of “Saturday morning migraines” is a common one among regular migraine sufferers because they allow themselves to sleep in and get more rest than their body actually needs.

Irregular afternoon naps and any other disruption in your regular sleep pattern can bring on migraine pain as well. This proves the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule, so consider waking up at 6am, even on Saturday and Sunday mornings, if that is the time you wake up during the week.

You will find that migraines become less common if you get enough sleep and stick with a regular sleeping schedule.