Fitness Sleep And Migraines

Exercise and sleep are two common behaviors that have a complex relationship with migraine headaches. While we all need plenty of sleep and regular exercise, excesses and sudden changes in our levels of sleep and physical activity can sometimes trigger migraine symptoms.

Migraines and Sleep

Experts don’t fully understand how migraines and sleep are linked, but studies have shown that sleeping habits affect migraine patterns. If you’re vulnerable to migraines, you may want to monitor your sleep habits to see if excess (or too little) sleep may be one of your triggers.

Beware of getting too much sleep at one time, sleep deprivation and waking up too often in the middle of the night. All of these can be linked to migraines. By the same token, the connection between migraines and sleep seems to suggest that regular healthy sleep habits can reduce the frequency—and also shorten the duration—of migraine headaches.

Exercise and Migraines

Doctors know that a link exists between bouts of intense physical exercise and the potential onset of migraines, but it may also be true that increased oxygen uptake from regular exercise can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Migraines may be avoided by engaging in certain types of exercise rather than others. It is important to learn which types of exercise, if any, trigger the onset of a migraine.

Some migraine sufferers who are vulnerable to exercise-induced migraines associate physical activity with pain, and as a result they become inactive and lose flexibility and aerobic endurance. If you fit this description and would like to gain the benefits of exercise without triggering a migraine, talk to your doctor about specific activities that may sidestep this problem, like cycling. Your doctor can help you find a routine that maximizes your health and oxygen intake without subjecting you to the risk of exercise-induced migraines.


MedicineNet. (2009.) Migraine headache. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from

Science Daily. (2009.) Exercise program reduces migraine suffering. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from