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Sleepiness & Migraine Symptoms

By Jerry Shaw ; Updated August 14, 2017

Excessive daytime sleepiness is a common problem among migraine sufferers, according to Robbins Headache Clinic in Northbrook, Illinois. Dozing off may also be a migraine trigger because it is common following daytime sleepiness. Still, not enough research is available to find out how much migraines disrupt nocturnal sleep, leading to sleep deprivation. It is believed that daytime sleepiness might be a result of lack of sleep in migraine patients.

Headaches and Sleep

Headaches and sleep disorders are related in several ways, according to a 2005 article in the Journal of Neurology and Psychiatry. Sleep disorders happen to headache patients, and headaches are common among people with sleep disorders. Excessive daytime sleepiness is a common symptom that may affect 10 to 20 percent of the general population, according to researchers in San Paulo, Brazil and at the Jefferson Headache Center, Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia. It is difficult to pinpoint how often it affects migraine sufferers.


Lack of sleep, too much sleep, irregular sleep patterns, napping, physical exertion and fatigue are considered physical migraine triggers, according to Ortho-McNeil Migraine Solutions. It is believed about half of migraine attacks are preceded by premonitory symptoms lasting hours or days. These symptoms may include sleepiness, irritability and fatigue, along with other depressive moods. There may even be bouts of fainting, dizziness and double vision.


Complicated migraines and sleep disorders are considered to be neurological dysfunctions, in which the part of the brain that monitors consciousness and balance is affected. The migraine sufferer may feel drained of energy before an attack comes on and later suffer from drowsiness due to the migraine experience. Migraine sufferers often prefer to lie in a dark, quiet room during an attack, which may affect or cause their sleepiness. Auras, in which the sufferers may experience flashing lights or blind spots, accompany the migraine attacks. The condition can be temporary but may last for days, affecting deep, comfortable sleep.

Relief and Sleep

The involvement of medication and sleep can work both ways. It can help migraine sufferers feel better and also sleepy. But medicine can interfere with sleep patterns when taken during the day. Treatments include migraine prevention medicine. This helps decreases the total number of migraine headaches the sufferer may experience. Sometimes the medicine even keeps the migraine attacks from occurring at all. Medication for pain relief can ease the pain of a migraine attack if it is taken early enough. It is a good idea to also seek other remedies when dealing with migraines, including diet. There may be certain foods that trigger headaches. You may be able to avoid problems with sleeping thusly as well.

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