7 Ways to Prevent Migraines

Are you getting enough sleep?

Woman with arm covering her eyes because of migraine
Luke + Mallory Leasure/Stocksy United

Chronic migraine sufferers are painfully aware of how intense and unpredictable the condition can really be. The splitting headache is a menace to get rid of once it strikes, and the associated dizziness and sensitivity to light and sound make navigating through the day a herculean task. Ideally, preventing a migraine before it starts is better than attempting to deal with it after it hits. Changes in lifestyle, medications, and therapy may help to stave off migraines and the pain that comes with them.

While they won’t prevent every attack, these seven tips may help to keep the headaches at bay:

  1. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is the number one migraine trigger. It has been shown that getting healthy sleep can drastically decrease the frequency of migraine attacks. In order to get into a healthy routine, try your best to go to sleep and get up at the same time each day. Create a bedroom environment that is relaxing, dark, and quiet by avoiding TV, music, and bedtime reading. While an empty stomach at bedtime is not advised, it is also important to avoid very large meals before turning in for the night. These habits will help prevent attacks by regulating your circadian rhythm.
  2. Exercise regularly. Experts say that doing aerobic exercises regularly is just as effective as medications used to prevent migraine attacks. Exercising 40 minutes at least three times a week will help reduce stress and balance your body’s chemicals. Exercising also causes an endorphin spike that will help improve your mood and decrease your perception of pain. This spike can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines.
  1. Ensure that you are getting plenty of Riboflavin. This B vitamin is found in everyday foods such as milk, eggs, meat, and green vegetables. Adequate levels in the body are necessary for the production of red blood cells. Riboflavin also plays a major role in the body’s capacity to harvest energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. A recent study showed that taking 400 mg of Riboflavin each day can drastically reduce the frequency of migraines. If you feel like you are not getting enough of this vitamin from your diet, you can always take it as a supplement.
  1. Take magnesium. About half of the individuals that suffer from chronic headaches also have deficiencies in magnesium levels in their bodies. Magnesium helps you sleep and it also stabilizes the walls of blood vessels. Diuretics, antibiotics, and alcohol can all cause magnesium levels in the body to dip. To counteract this, try taking magnesium supplements.
  2. Talk to your doctor about abortive migraine medications. Your doctor can prescribe triptans if you are suffering from frequent and severe migraines. They are stronger than over the counter aspirin or acetaminophen, and they can prevent headaches in most cases if taken at the first sign of an oncoming migraine.
  3. Give temperature therapy a try. Try using a hot or cold compress on your head and neck when you feel an impending migraine. Temperature therapy is not backed by much research, but it is thought to work by relaxing the tight muscles that trigger migraines. The cold compresses can slow blood flow and decrease nerve conduction. If possible, try taking a hot bath or shower to help relax the tension in your muscles.
  4. Consider biofeedback and relaxation therapy. A biofeedback therapist can track your body’s response to different stimuli using thermometers or electrical feeds in order to figure out which symptoms personalized to your own body trigger your migraine attacks. Knowing the causes of your migraines will make it much easier to prevent them. Additionally, learning calming techniques in relaxation therapy may thwart future attacks by reducing stress and tension. 

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