Scene: Tube Station, Morning.
Innocent Bystander: Miss, I think you dropped your train ticket.
Me: WHY GOD, WHY!!!?!!! [starts sobbing hysterically on Innocent Bystander]
I'm not normally like this, I just didn't sleep properly.
Innocent Bystander: Your nose is dripping on my suit. I'm very sorry, but that's my train so I need -
Me: I just can't sleep [sobbing harder now] Do you understand? I HAVE to sleep.
Innocent Bystander: I've just missed my train and I'll be late for work now, so I -
Me: Why do you hate me?!
And so on and so forth....
Just to be clear, the above hasn't actually happened, but similar scenarios nearly have. If I don't sleep I'm a wreck. I'll pour orange juice into my morning tea instead of milk. I'll cry if someone asks me a totally innocent question but more importantly, a buggered up sleep pattern leaves me vulnerable to migraines. I think migraines also make me cry.
We migraineurs are told from birth (well from the moment we are diagnosed) that a 'regular sleep pattern', or (this is my favourite) 'good sleep hygiene' is VITAL TO OUR LIVES. Too little or too much sleep can trigger a migraine! See it's stressful already!
I was also brought up by a mother who believed that lack of sleep was the root of all evil in the world, and most illness. As such, I do actually believe that there are very few problems that can't be solved by the mighty power nap. Try it - it's especially good if accompanied by a cup of tea, a copy of a trashy magazine such as Hello! or OK and chocolate (which I can't eat anymore). But apparently naps are bad for 'sleep hygiene'. Or long ones are because they ruin your chances of getting to sleep again at night. So I try not to indulge too often.
|He sleeps so heavily I could do this to him! Serves him right!|
Recently, however, I have been plagued by insomnia. This is not a new problem for me. I've blogged here about how a rude interruption in sleep triggered a migraine. When I was at my worst migraine wise, in '04, I had no regular sleep pattern. The first thing my incredible physio rehab lady did was get me to write down when I went to bed and when I got up. She told me to stop obsessing about how many hours of sleep I got but to become aware of trying to regulate the times, to keep them as similar as possible. i.e the aim is to get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Many migraineurs get 'weekend migraines' and the theory is it might have something to do with a variation in routine. i.e they sleep in longer, suddenly eat/drink do different things. Every migraine specialist will tell you that the migraine brain likes routine. Dull I know.
My problem with all of this is HOW THE HELL DO I GET TO SLEEP AT NIGHT
and when you wake up at 4am with a raging migraine, have to give yourself an injection, the last thing your body wants to do is get up at 7am when the alarm goes off. Sleep does help you heal after all. Similarly, when a migraine starts it's often wise to try and get to sleep, for me that's the best treatment (along with my triptan) so I'll get myself to bed if it's the afternoon or morning. Obviously, this can mean it's harder to make yourself go to bed again at a sensible time later that night. I do try to, however. I know I feel and function far better when I achieve this ideal pattern.
When a migraine has disrupted my routine I like to think of it as migraine jet-lag. So even if I've spent the afternoon in bed with a migraine, I'll still make myself go to bed and get up at a sensible time. If I do get a migraine in the middle of the night I won't, however, force myself to get up early as that could risk the migraine worsening. But treating it like jet-lag, i.e trying to get back to 'normal' time as soon as possible is how I try to approach it. But I do wish more specialists would recognise this aspect of sleep difficulties for us migraineurs. I do know I need to keep a regular routine, I do! But it's not that simple.
What drives me crazy are the thousands of really un-helpful tips that abound. When I was frantic with lack of sleep, which I'd like to point out is used as torture by war criminals, I asked a G.P for help and they actually printed off an information sheet from Google!! I can do that myself!! I do know all the sensible things one is meant to do. Another Doctor I saw told me not to drink any liquids two hours before bed, as needing to pee can wake you up, not to drink alcohol 4 hours before - see the recent study that was released earlier this week saying alcohol disrupts our sleep cycle. This Doctor also told me not to go to bed before midnight, rubbishing the rule I'd heard that the hours before midnight count for 2 after? I know to keep my bedroom a cool temperature, but not too cool, to try to unwind before bed, I've tried all the different sorts of herbal night remedies and made my room stink with Valerian. I've tried meditating, which I should try again as I so want to be Julia Roberts in EAT, PRAY, LOVE but my fail safe is usually the good old Audio Book.
I think at the moment Christmas and New Year, and all the fun they entail, maybe derailed my pattern? I've noticed many other migraineurs are having a tough January and sleep troubles too. So, basically I just wanted to moan. Last year I attended a fascinating talk hosted by The Migraine Trust at the EHMTIC conference on Sleep and Migraines by Alex Nesbitt (a specialist Registrar in Neurology and Research Fellow at a sleep centre). To be honest I"m too tired to summarise his talk now but read this brilliant article which will tell you lots of important and useful things about the relationship between migraines and sleep. For example, did you know there's even a 'sleep' headache, 'Hypnic Headache', that migraines are more likely to occur between 4am and 9am - and lots of other clever things our body's are designed to do at night.
Now if only I could get to sleep in the first place.....
p.s Tips & info below as usual - and more spelling & grammar mistakes than usual as I'M NOT SLEEPING!
Further Info & Advice: