It seems like a Catch-22: a lack of sleep can trigger uncomfortable headaches, but the pain of a headache can make it difficult to get a good night’s rest.
According to Dr. Ivan Stein at the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey, there are strategies you can try to overcome a pounding headache and catch some much-needed Z’s. By slightly changing your bedtime routine and incorporating some new habits, it is possible to get quality sleep.
Be Cognizant of How You Treat Your Headaches
It is possible to inadvertently sabotage your sleep when treating headaches. Two of the most common remedies for headaches — daytime naps and headache medicines containing caffeine — can throw your sleep routine completely out of whack. If you must take medications with caffeine, like Excedrin, or snooze during the day to combat a headache, try to avoid doing so too late in the day (i.e., after 3 p.m.).
Watch Your Diet and Fluid Consumption
Caffeine isn’t the only trigger that can interfere with a good night’s rest. Alcohol, heavy or greasy meals and too many fluids close to bedtime can also make it impossible to get restful sleep. You may have personal headache food triggers as well, such as ripened cheese, bananas and certain food additives. It is crucial to understand what foods affect your headaches and avoid these triggers. You may need to keep a headache diary to identify foods or beverages that bring on headaches.
Create a Soothing Sleep Environment
Ensuring your bedroom is relaxing and soothing can help you sleep better in the face of chronic headaches. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and clutter-free to prevent stress or anxiety from interfering with sleep. Set your thermostat to a cool temperature that feels comfortable to you (experts say the ideal sleep temperature is somewhere around 65 degrees). Use blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out light. Clear out clutter or distractions that may interfere with getting a good night’s rest.
Quiet Your Mind
Quieting a racing mind with a simple bedtime routine may help you fall asleep even if pain persists. Bedtime routines look different for everyone; depending on your personal preferences, you may choose to practice deep breathing exercises, do a few yoga poses or meditate before bedtime. Maybe reading a book in a warm bath or savoring a cup of tea calms your mind and suggests it is time for bed.
Whatever routine you choose, be sure to turn off electronic devices, including your smartphone, tablet and television at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted by these devices can interrupt your natural sleep cycle.
For more information about resolving chronic headaches, Dr. Stein invites you to make an appointment at the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey. Call or email us today.