Your Migraines and Insomnia Might Just Be Related
Contrary to my usual style, I’ve been tossing tonight’s topic around for a couple of days; taking notes, doing research, changing track and, in the midst of it all, suffering one of my rare migraines. Hmmm, a connection, maybe?
Since the dawn of mankind, and frankly, even before, we’ve been at the mercy of our internal clocks. Earliest man got up with the sunrise and went to sleep when the sun set. Even when the discovery of fire made it possible to see in the dark, we continued to take our cues from the sun. Small wonder, as I discovered, because lack of light causes our pineal gland to secrete melatonin which is meant to make us sleepy so we’ll go to sleep.
But not all of us stay on the normal day/night schedule. Some of us simply function better from late morning until the early hours of the next day. We are often called “night owls” and are the butt of a few jokes when, in fact, there are some very reasonable explanations.
With the increasing popularity of the Internet, not only do we tend to work or play longer, but we develop friendships around the world. When we would normally sleep, it’s morning for some of our friends so in order to communicate, one of us needs to alter their schedule. But frivolity aside, the bright light of the computer screen can also fake out our pineal gland and prevent it from secreting melatonin at the proper time (typically between 10:00 and 11:00 PM).
Jet Lag isn’t Just for Travelers
While some people experience tiredness and a confused sleep cycle as a result of changing time zones, the flashing pixels on our monitors can yield the same results. While it takes time to re-set our internal clocks, what causes us to struggle with insomnia and twisted sleep patterns has been found to be a migraine trigger as well. In a study conducted at the University of Sao Paolo, patients were given one of three things: a placebo, 25 mg of amitriptyline or 3 mg of melatonin.
To make a long story short, the study found that the melatonin was far more effective at preventing migraines when administered an hour before bedtime every day than the amitriptyline. The study went on to state:
Furthermore, it has been implicated in migraine pathophysiology due to its anti-inflammatory effects, ability to scavenge free-radicals, inhibition of dopamine and release of nitric oxide synthase (5). Melatonin also has a role in membrane stabilisation. With sleep-related factors featuring so prominently in migraineur’s lives, it makes sense that we examine the relationship between poor sleep hygiene, melatonin synthesis and the tendency to migraine. (See the Migraine-Melatonin Connection for more information)
The Body and its Natural Ways
If it hasn’t become obvious by now, I’m a strong advocate for natural methods of healing, prevention and overall health care so I am not entirely surprised to learn that the body already has a mechanism for dealing with migraines and other stress-triggered ailments. As is often the case, we simply need to let it do its job! On those occasions when our body isn’t responding as quickly as it might because of those same stress factors, the best way to help it get back in tune is to give it what it lacks. Not some pharmaceutically derived, chemically bonded facsimile, but the real deal. It should be easy, right?
According to Natural Society:
Melatonin supplements are made with synthetic ingredients in a lab or with cow urine. And though the supplements may have slight benefits, especially for people suffering with occasional insomnia, they don’t always offer long-lasting or significant results for those who struggle with sleep on a nightly basis. (Read more: 8 Foods Which Naturally Increase Melatonin)
I don’t know about you, but my initial response was You want me to take cow urine to help me sleep and to prevent migraines? Ewwww! But fear not, Natural Society has an option and, what a surprise, it’s food-related!
The researchers found pineapples, bananas, and oranges were able to increase melatonin presence significantly. Pineapples increased the presence of aMT6s over 266% while bananas increased levels by 180%. Oranges were able to increase melatonin by approximately 47%.
While supplements are often thought of as the natural alternative to prescription drugs, they are made to mimic those things we find naturally in foods. In other words, they too are a poor substitute for good nutrition and some supplement manufacturers (though not all) are in the business to make money, not with noble intentions of increasing the collective health.
So next time your circadian rhythm is spinning out of control or your stress-filled life is giving you migraines with your insomnia, check out some of these foods. Do I really need to remind you to discuss these options with your physician? I honestly believe most doctors are aware of these alternatives, but the pill pushers can be awfully persuasive. Not only do we need to advocate for ourselves, but I believe it is our responsibility to share research like this so others will know that they have the right to ask questions before blindly accepting a pill that will cure us. Snake oil, anyone?
- Sweet corn
The Body is Like a Two-Year-Old: The More We Try to Force it, the More it Will Dig In Its Heels
Getting back to my original point, our body gets out of whack sometimes, and it’s never just one thing. Lack of balance has a snowball effect on us, despite the fact that the solution might be quite simple, and a kind of one thing fixes all situation. The worst thing we can do is to try to force ourselves back into balance. Take it from me, it’s an exercise in futility, along the lines of teaching a pig to sing. Like any finely tuned machine, treat it right, give it healthy fuel, tune it up regularly and it’ll take good care of you, too.
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the opportunities I find to learn more about keeping this old engine working properly.
2. I am grateful for all of the information available on natural health.
3. I am grateful for the time I spent rolling this topic around in my head and researching related topics. It was the ruminating which found the migraine-melatonin-irregular sleep cycle connection.
4. I am grateful for Google. Without it, I’d never know as much as I do, and I’d have far fewer “Aha moments”.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, dancing, inspiration, research, learning, friendship, joy, health, harmony, peace, prosperity and philanthropy
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