The Morning After: Migraines

  1. The "morning" after a night shift, that is....after going to bed, finally, and waking up.

    Whenever I sleep in the daytime...whether it is after working night shift (7P-7A) or even if I'm ill and I nap in the daytime, I get a tremendous headache. I'm fine (tired, but fine) after working a night shift...I go to bed and sleep for 6 hours (or longer, doesn't matter how long) and when I wake up I have an excruciating headache, from the base of my skull to my eyebrows. It doesn't go away until I go to bed when it is dark and wake up again the next morning. Then I'll just have a residual "soreness" in my head. It doesn't seem to be a matter of sleep deprivation because it will happen even if I sleep in the daylight *after* a night's sleep (such as when I've been ill and stay in bed and sleep). Or if I try to take a nap before going in for a night shift.

    I'll have photophobia and "sound-aphobia" (what's the word for that?!). It's terrible. I thought maybe it was dehydration so I drank water all night long during work. Didn't help. I try to eat something before I go to bed too (a bowl of cereal or something). I've even tried to prophylactically hit it with Advil before I go to bed. Didn't work.

    Right now I only have to do 2 night shifts in a 6 week schedule. It may be changing to 5 or 6 night shifts.

    Does anyone know WHY this happens? Or what I can do to avoid it? I can't live like that if I have to work more nights.
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    About Zee_RN

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 1,664; Likes: 176
    RN, Inpatient Hospice; from US
    Specialty: 17 year(s) of experience in Hospice, Critical Care


  3. by   CseMgr1
    I think it's just your body's way of telling you that it doesn't agree with you working nights. During the 18 months I worked nights, I STAYED sick with headaches, nausea and irregular menstrual periods. After I went back to days, my body straightened back out. There is something to those circadian (sic?) rhythms they talk about!
  4. by   fab4fan
    I believe the aversion to sound is "phonophobia."
  5. by   prmenrs
    Before you go to bed, take some tylenol or advil; you can also try benadryl or chlortrimeton if it doesn't knock you out too much. Make sure it's dark in your room, and that your eyes are not exposed to light before you get to your car and in the house==put sunglasses (the darkest you can find) before you leave the building. Eat something HEALTHY on the way home, like an apple or something. Some white noise, like a fan, can help you stay asleep. You can turn the fan away from you if you don't want the "breeze". Watch your caffeine intake--nothing after ~ 2am. Use decaf if you like the taste.

    Believe me, I feel your pain, Zee. Bad memories!!
  6. by   atownsendrn
    Sorry you are feeling so yucky. All the above advice sounds wonderful. But nothing much helped for me. I didn't have the headache, but I would always wake up feeling nauseous. I probably went for a year feeling like that and finally had to talk to my manager. I got off the night rotation. Do you have to do the two nights every six weeks? I would try talking to your manager. Hopefully, he/she would be understanding. Maybe agree to do an extra w/e shift if possible. Good luck. Hope you get to feeling better:kiss
  7. by   canoehead
    I had the same headaches, every day, but they stopped when I made a point of drinking until I sloshed all through my shift and then another full glass of water before bed. I ended up having to pee during the day but was able to get back to sleep, and didn't have to go to work with a headache the next day.
  8. by   GPatty
    I don't have the headaches anymore, but when I first started nights....OMG! Was it ever awful...I felt like I wanted to die.
    Hubby bought me some nighttime cold stuff, but I didn't really want to take that, and I guess my body just got used to the funky schedule it was on.
    I'm ok now, just tired some days (nights). I wnder what it'll be like this summer (I LOVE summer mornings!)? Wonder if I'll be able to get to sleep or if I'll have to suffer the awakeness (sp?)?
    Good Luck to you and I hope you get to feeling better real soon!
  9. by   nowplayingEDRN
    I am a migraine sufferer. I have had them for 9+ years and they were much worse on night shift. After years of cajoling and badgering me, I finally gave into my wonderful GP and allowed him to make the medical recommendation of no night shifts anymore. It is a PIA with the papr work at work to ensure it but the migraines certainly have eased up some. Usually there is nothing prophylactically that can be done until after you get up....then advil or motrin, gatorade and some food (if you aren't hurling) back to a dark room with an ice pack and wear shades out into the regularly lit rooms until the pain eases or goes away.
    Warm thoughs sent your way. I hope you feel better soon.
  10. by   Zee_RN
    I spoke with a neurologist at work and asked him for his recommendation. His first suggestion was "Switch to all daylight." I can't do that. I will be working 5 or 6 nights in a 6-week schedule. So he recommends that I start taking Advil 800 mg BID two days before my night shift and including the day of night shift. If that doesn't work, he advices Vioxx. So I'm going to give the Advil routine a try. Haven't had to work a night since his recommendation but I'm pretty sure I'll be working nights this week. I was on vacation so I don't even have my schedule for this week yet!
  11. by   renerian
    I agree with a previous post. I got so sick after six weeks of nights. I lost alot of weight, ended up in the hospital with malnutrition and exhaustion. No more nights. I was nauseated, had headaches, Could not sleep during the day. Can you get off nights?

  12. by   lucianne
    Some migraine sufferers absolutely cannot tolerate a shift in sleep schedule. My son and my husband's cousin are like this. My son has to go to bed at the same time every night (within half an hour or so) and get up at the same time, although getting up doesn't seem as important for him. His neurologist told me that the most common days for migraines (for the general public) are Saturday and Monday and that fit my son to a "t." We started giving him Verapamil prophylactically last year and that dramatically reduced his headaches and gave him a little more leeway with his schedule. He went from 2 or 3 a week to maybe 2 a month and from missing about 15 days of school and having to come home early many more to missing 1 this year and coming home once.

    I hope your doctor's plan works for you.
  13. by   Zee_RN
    Well, I worked my 12-hour nights on Tuesday, Thursday and am scheduled to go back in tonight. I've been doing the prophylactic ibuprofen as recommended by the neurologist I spoke with. Thus far....... I'm migraine-free! I feel great! It's absolutely amazing! Why didn't I know about this YEARS ago?! (I've also been taking OTC pepcid, just in case.) Now, if I make it through tomorrow without a headache, I'm home free! Phenomenal! I may even PREFER nights if I can avoid the headaches!
  14. by   renerian
    Zee I am glad your feeling better!