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Migraine: A Journey to Rise Above 6 of 10

Updated on March 15, 2012

This article continues my journey to overcome daily chronic migraines and the other conditions that go hand-in-hand.

Kids can sleep anywhere!
Kids can sleep anywhere! | Source

Migraines, Sleep & Exercise


Sleep (or lack thereof) is another trigger for me and for many people who suffer migraines. I find that one or two restless nights alone will not be enough to cause a migraine. If another trigger or two are present, then the sleep variable can amplify conditions for a migraine and I will have symptoms.

At one point I completed a multi-phase sleep study. I discovered that I have very mild sleep apnea. It was mild enough that it did not show up on the overnight finger oxygen test, but it did on the overnight in-the-hospital sleep study. It was recommended for me to lose some weight, so I lost 25 pounds. However, being overweight is not the only cause of sleep apnea. It can be inherited. I also know that I was born without frontal sinuses and with severe allergies. Unless I complete another sleep study I will not know for certain if I still have sleep apnea, or seasonal sleep disorders associated with my allergies.

Regardless, this is another area of my daily routine that I can structure, so I do. I try to keep a fairly rigid daily schedule and get at least 8 hours of sleep. If I am already experiencing migraine symptoms or other ailments, I increase my sleep by 30 minutes or up to two hours. I also rest or take naps when I have symptoms. I often am pleased with the result when I lay down for a short time. Even if I so not sleep, I can alleviate mild headache symptoms without medication.


I have always been interested in physical fitness. For years I have taken martial arts. Exercise maintains the structure: bones, muscles, daily organ function, stamina, heart, etc. It also benefits mood, stress levels, brain function, immunity, and more.

The important aspect to migraine sufferers are the good chemicals that our bodies produce with exercise. As noted in an earlier section, many of the medications routinely prescribed for migraine prevention are those that address chemical imbalance in the body and brain, such as serotonin. I found it is always better to do something to remedy a medical problem, rather than manage it with medication if possible.

Possibility is the crux of the matter. In practice, exercise can be nearly impossible with migraines. A medical condition that constricts and expands the blood vessels is not one that is conducive to increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and movement. Exercise can greatly exacerbate migraine symptoms. So much in fact that if I didn’t know I had a mild migraine then it will rear its ugly head in less than 10 minutes. Worse yet, I try mild exercise, like stretching, with a mild headache and end up vomiting.

When I can exercise, I do. Overall, I feel better and have fewer migraines when I am regularly keeping fit.

In my next article I discuss alternative therapies.

Thanks Dr. Piercy!

My neurologist gave me positive feedback on my articles. Her comments:

"it is so great that you were able to gain so much insight and experience...I think your story will be an inspiration for other patients in similar situations....Also, you should consider writing about Botox or Toxin injections for migraine treatment. This could be helpful and informative for other patients."


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