The Role of Sleep Position in Migraine Prevention and Relief

The Role of Sleep Position in Migraine Prevention and Relief


As someone who has experienced migraine attacks, I have always been interested in finding strategies for relief. One aspect that caught my attention is the role of sleep position in managing migraine attacks. In this article, we will explore how sleep position can affect the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks and discuss the potential benefits of adjusting sleep position for migraine prevention.

Understanding the Impact of Sleep Position

The position in which we sleep can have a significant impact on migraine attacks. When we sleep in certain positions, there is increased pressure on the head and neck, which can contribute to the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. Additionally, these positions may restrict blood flow to the brain, leading to increased discomfort during migraine attacks. Furthermore, sleep position can affect muscle tension and trigger points, which are common contributors to migraine attacks.

For example, sleeping on the stomach can often result in prolonged extension of the neck, leading to increased muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. This can trigger migraine attacks or worsen existing symptoms. Similarly, sleeping on the back with a flat pillow may cause the head to tilt backward, potentially resulting in increased pressure on the back of the skull and neck.

Finding the Optimal Sleep Position

Experimenting with different sleep positions can help identify the ideal position for migraine prevention and relief. One effective method is to keep a sleep diary to track migraine frequency and intensity based on different sleep positions. By noting any patterns or changes in symptoms, you can determine which positions are more beneficial for you.

It is also advised to consult with healthcare professionals, such as neurologists or sleep specialists, for guidance on finding the optimal sleep position. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific condition and needs. Additionally, considering your personal comfort and individual body mechanics is crucial in choosing the right sleep position for migraine prevention.

Utilizing supportive pillows and other sleep aids can also help maintain the desired sleep position. For example, using a contoured or cervical pillow can provide proper support to the neck and promote better alignment of the spine during sleep. This may help reduce the risk of developing migraine attacks or alleviate symptoms by relieving pressure on the head and neck.

Benefits of Favorable Sleep Positions for Migraine Attacks

Optimal sleep positions can lead to reduced occurrence and intensity of migraine attacks. By improving blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, these positions help minimize discomfort during migraine attacks. They also contribute to the relaxation of muscles, reducing tension and trigger point activation.

In addition to migraine prevention, favorable sleep positions can enhance overall sleep quality and promote better well-being. Good-quality sleep is crucial for optimal health and functioning. By adopting a sleep position that minimizes migraine attacks, individuals may also experience relief from associated sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.

Sleep Position Considerations for Different Types of Migraine Attacks

The impact of sleep position can vary depending on the type of migraine a person experiences. Understanding these differences can help individuals adopt sleep positions that are most beneficial for their specific condition:

Migraine Attacks with Aura

For individuals who experience migraine attacks with aura, it is important to find sleep positions that minimize visual disturbances and neurological symptoms. This may involve avoiding positions that place additional pressure on the eyes or head, which could potentially worsen aura experiences.

Migraine Attacks with Neck Pain

Neck pain often accompanies migraine attacks, and sleep position can influence the severity of this symptom. Sleep positions that provide adequate support to the neck and spine can help alleviate neck pain during migraine attacks. For example, using a supportive pillow that maintains proper alignment of the head, neck, and spine may provide relief.

Chronic Migraine Attacks

Managing chronic migraine attacks requires a comprehensive approach, which includes adopting favorable sleep positions. Consistency is key, as maintaining a regular sleep routine and positioning can help regulate the body’s internal clock and minimize the occurrence of migraine attacks. It is crucial to work with healthcare professionals to develop a personalized routine that addresses individual needs.

Additional Lifestyle Modifications for Migraine Prevention

While sleep position is an important factor in migraine prevention, it is essential to consider additional lifestyle modifications. These modifications can further support the prevention and management of migraine attacks:

  • Maintaining a Regular Sleep Schedule: Going to bed and waking up at consistent times can help regulate sleep patterns and reduce the risk of migraine attacks.
  • Managing Stress and Promoting Relaxation: Practicing stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or mindfulness meditation, can contribute to better overall well-being and reduce the likelihood of migraine attacks.
  • Incorporating Other Migraine Prevention Techniques: Adopting a holistic approach to migraine prevention can be beneficial. This may include identifying and avoiding triggers, maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the best sleep positions for migraine prevention?

    While individual preferences and needs may vary, generally, sleep positions that promote proper neck and spine alignment are recommended for migraine prevention. Sleeping on your back with a supportive pillow or on your side with a pillow between the knees can help maintain a neutral position and reduce the risk of triggering migraine attacks.

  2. Can changing my sleep position completely eliminate migraine attacks?

    Changing sleep positions alone may not completely eliminate migraine attacks, as they are a complex neurological condition with various triggers. However, optimizing your sleep position and adopting other lifestyle modifications can significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.

  3. How long does it take to notice a difference in migraine attacks after changing sleep positions?

    The time it takes to notice a difference in migraine attacks after changing sleep positions can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience immediate relief, while others may take several weeks to notice improvements. Keeping a sleep diary can help track progress over time.

  4. Are there specific pillows or sleep aids recommended for migraine prevention?

    There are various pillows and sleep aids available in the market that are designed to provide support and promote proper alignment during sleep. Contoured or cervical pillows that support the natural curvature of the neck and spine are often recommended for migraine prevention. It is important to choose pillows and sleep aids based on personal comfort and individual needs.

  5. Can sleep position worsen or trigger migraine attacks in some individuals?

    Yes, sleep position can worsen or trigger migraine attacks in some individuals. If a particular sleep position consistently leads to increased discomfort or more frequent migraine attacks, it may be necessary to experiment with alternate sleep positions to find one that provides relief.

  6. Why is sleep quality important for migraine prevention?

    Good-quality sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Quality sleep promotes proper functioning of the brain and body, which can help prevent migraine attacks. Additionally, poor sleep or sleep disorders, such as insomnia, can increase the likelihood of migraine attacks.

  7. Can anxiety or stress affect sleep position during migraine attacks?

    Yes, anxiety or stress can affect sleep position during migraine attacks. People may inadvertently change their sleep position due to discomfort, restlessness, or physical tension caused by anxiety or stress. Managing anxiety and stress through relaxation techniques or therapy can help improve sleep quality and reduce the likelihood of migraine attacks.

  8. Can changing sleep positions disrupt sleep initially?

    Changing sleep positions may disrupt sleep initially as the body adjusts to a new position. However, with time and consistency, the body can adapt, and sleep quality is likely to improve. It is important to give the body time to adjust and consult with healthcare professionals if disruptions persist.

  9. What should I do if I experience migraine attacks regardless of my sleep position?

    If you continue to experience migraine attacks despite adjusting your sleep position, it is important to consult with healthcare professionals. They can help identify other potential triggers, provide additional treatment options, or recommend further investigations to understand the underlying causes of your migraine attacks.

  10. Is it necessary to consult with a healthcare professional before changing sleep positions?

    While it is not mandatory to consult with a healthcare professional before changing sleep positions, it can be beneficial, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or concerns. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and help ensure that the changes you make are safe and effective.


The role of sleep position in migraine prevention and relief is significant. By understanding the impact of sleep position, experimenting to find the optimal position, and considering different types of migraine attacks, individuals can significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. It is important to remember that each person’s experience with migraine attacks is unique, so consulting with healthcare professionals for personalized advice and guidance is always recommended.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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