3 Simple Changes to Decrease Migraine Frequency

Migraine headaches are not only extremely painful but can lead to poor quality of life. This article discusses three simple lifestyle changes - staying hydrated, improving sleep, and preventing hunger, to help migraine sufferers decrease their days in agony. Nurses Education Knowledge


3 Simple Changes to Decrease Migraine Frequency

Migraine headaches are a chronic condition affecting about 12% of the US population. Migraines are nearly three times more common in women than men. Frequent migraine headaches can cause poor quality of life due to missing work and family events. Having a constant headache can also lead to depression. The good news is there are lifestyle changes you can make today to prevent migraines. Read on to learn three ways to decrease the amount of migraine headaches you experience.

Water is Your New Best Friend

Water is necessary for life, yet so hard to get enough of in our hectic lives. Staying hydrated is one of the best changes we can make to decrease migraine days. Dehydration is a common migraine trigger. The amount of water that you need daily varies among individuals. A general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces daily. For example, weighing 120 pounds, you should aim for 60 ounces of water daily. The amount of water you need can change depending on your activity level. One way to tell if you are hydrating enough is to look at your urine color. You're most likely drinking enough if your urine is clear to pale yellow. You may need to drink more water if your urine is bright yellow or dark. The following are tips to help you remember to drink throughout the day:

  • Carry a sports water bottle with you and sip on it throughout the day
  • Start your day with a glass of water
  • Add flavor enhancers
  • Set a reminder with an alarm on your phone to drink

Get the Right Amount of Sleep

A consistent sleep schedule is vital to migraine prevention. Too much or too little can trigger migraine headaches. According to the National Institute on Aging, the right amount of sleep for most adults is 7-9 hours. Getting enough sleep can be difficult if you don't have a good bedtime routine. Here are some things you can try to help you get more sleep:

  • Go to sleep at a consistent time. Sleeping around the same time each night, even on the weekends, will help you develop a routine.
  • Start a wind-down period about an hour before bed. Turn down the lights, take a bath, or read a book.
  • Refrain from looking at screens before bed. Avoid looking at your phone, tablet, or computer screen before bedtime.
  • Incorporating these changes can lead to better sleep and fewer migraine days.

Snack Often to Avoid Hunger

A common trigger among migraine sufferers is hunger. Ensuring you eat often throughout the day can help prevent migraines. Keeping away hunger is easier said than done when you consider our busy lives. Eating 5-6 small, nutrient-dense meals daily can help you avoid hunger. Choosing foods high in protein, such as meats, boiled eggs, and Greek yogurt, can help you feel full longer. If you are busy during the day, pack a variety of foods that are easy to grab and go so you don't have to skip meals. Avoid foods that are common migraine triggers, such as:

  • chocolate
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • aged cheese
  • MSG
  • artificial sweeteners

If you are unsure of your food triggers, keep a headache journal and record what you eat. Keeping a headache journal is a way to learn your triggers so you can avoid them in the future. 

Simple Changes Can Make a Big Difference

Give these simple changes a try if you are experiencing frequent migraine headaches. While everyone can have different migraine triggers, the three discussed here are common. Staying well hydrated, maintaining consistent sleep, and preventing hunger can help decrease migraine frequency and improve your quality of life.


Understanding Research: What is the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention (AMPP) Study and What We Have Learned From It?: American Migraine Foundation

How Much Water Do You Need Each Day?: Penn Medicine

A Good Night's Sleep: National Institute on Aging: National Institutes of Health

Migraine and Diet: American Migraine Foundation

Casey has been a registered nurse for 12 years after graduating with her ADN in 2011. She has since gone on to work in various settings, including med-surg, an inpatient surgical floor, cardiac telemetry, home health, and has loved spending the last five years as an oncology infusion nurse.

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