Headaches and Migraines – Can Your Pillow Keep You From Waking Up With Head and Neck Pain?

Do you hate going to sleep because you do not want to wake up with another miserable headache?

Do you think it's amazing that we can do things to hurt ourselves even when we are sleep? I know I do.

Have you ever thought your head or migraine might be caused by your pillow? Or, that the position you sleep in causes your headaches?

Does your doctor or neurologist just give you medicine for head pain? That's typical because most doctors know very little about the roles of muscles in headaches, neck pain and migraines. They get much more training in drugs than in muscles. As a result, muscles are usually overlooked as a cause of head pain by most doctors.

Muscles which are not supported well can get downright cranky. And, they do. They like to be kept in fairly neutral positions. Aggravate your muscles and they will aggravate you!

So, here are several suggestions to help you get a better nights' sleep and wake up feeling well.

Side-sleepers often tilt their chin to the ceiling or floor. Then your neck is not straight. It's bent, curved sideways. You also squash, overstretch, compress and shorten the muscles on the top, front and around your shoulder. None of this is good for your muscles and they will complain. Ideally, you would learn to sleep on your back with your neck and shoulders properly supported.

Back-sleepers can wake up with headaches, too. If your pillow is too fat it pushes your head too far forward and causes muscle stress or strain in the back of your neck. Those muscles attach to your head. If your pillow is too hard, it will not support the natural curve behind your neck. That also creates muscle strain.

Side-sleepers can buy a special pillow for people who sleep on their sides. It has some "loft" or "fluff" all around but a firm core. This pillow needs to have enough height so your neck bones are straight and supported, and not allowed to curve to the floor or ceiling.

Back-sleepers can use a "shaped" pillow to support the natural curve of their neck. These pillows come in various sizes, although "medium" is most commonly found in the stores. Some are temperature-sensitive foam and are firmer in cold weather than in warm weather. Most seem to be too big, fat or hard for many of our necks.

A soft, flat down pillow ("for stomach sleepers") may also work well for you. Puff up the area that will be under your neck and "pull" the side tails up after your head is on the pillow. The tails will keep you from rolling your head into strange positions that will strain your neck and cause headaches or migraines.

If you can not find a pillow that gives your neck the correct amount of support (not too much and not too little) you can make your own with fiberfill. Buy a batt of fiberfill (fiberfill is the stuffing in quilts) at a fabric store or department. It is very inexpensive. Do not get the loose fill. Be sure to get a batt.

Open the package and unroll the batt. Roll the batt into various thicknesses until you find the one that feels best under your neck when you are on your back. Cut the batt and tape the roll so it will keep its' shape. You might want a flat thickness or two (or three) under your head as well.

Play with the thickness of the neckroll and for under your head until it feels comfortable for you.

You could sew nice covers for your homemade pillow, or you can just do as I do. Put your pillow in a pillow case – no sewing involved.

You might want to make a few different size pillows and switch around to whatever feels most comfortable at the moment.

If your head is far forward ("forward head posture") and it is hard for you to lay flat, you may need to prop your pillows differently to support your back, neck and head without strain.

Coping With Migraine Headaches

As early as 400 BC Hippocrates classified headheads into two groups, primary and secondary. Secondary headings are those, which indicate an under medical condition. Primary headings are a medical condition of themselves. Migraines are a type of primary headache.

Migraine headaches tend to be quite severe. The pain is throbbing and intense and can occur in any part of the head. However, it is usually in the temples or behind an eye or ear.

Migraines are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. They can last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. Depending on the individual, migraines may occur once or twice a week or once or twice a year.

Women are more susceptible to migraines than men. While migraines are common in people from 15 to 55 years old, their frequency and severity often decrease with age. Women usually experience migraines between the ages of 20 and 45. Also, women's migraines are often linked to their menstrual cycle.

While researchers have not determined the exact cause of migraines, they are usually set off by various factors referred to as triggers. These include sleep deprivation, hunger, offensive odors, too bright lights, too loud noises, hormone changes during the menstrual cycle, stress, anxiety, foods containing nitrates, MSG, tyramine or aspartame, alcohol, too much caffeine and weather changes.

There are two main types of migraines: classical and common. People with classical migraine often experience sensory symptoms prior to an attack. These may be seeing flashing lights, numbness or tingling the face or hands, and a disturbed sense of smell or touch. These symptoms are referred to as an aura. Common migraines have no aura. The aura is more often seen by men than women.

Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate a migraine from a bad tension type headache. However migraine pain tends to be more severe with intestinal throbbing. Both have a steady ache.

Tension headaches tend to be bilateral (pain on both sides of the head) while migraines are unilateral (pain restricted to one side of the head.Migraines are accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sounds. Migraines may have an aura prior to the afternoon whereas tension headaches never have an aura.

Some migraines respond to over the counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen or NSAIDS such as ibuprofen. However, other patients may need prescription drugs.

Medications are most effective when taken as soon as symptoms begin so people who suffer from migraines should always have medication with them.
If no nausea is present, it helps to drink fluids.

When migraines are so disabling that they interfere with work, social events or family activities, doctors often recommend prevention medicines.

Another prevention strategy is to try to identify the triggers and make appropriate lifestyle changes. For example, if stress triggers a migraine, try to find ways to either reduce or cope with the stress.

Each individual is different. What works for one person may not help another. While some sufferers have successfully used alternatives such as biofeedback and acupuncture, others must rely on drugs for prevention and pain relief.

What Causes Tension Headaches? Can a Chiropractor Help?

Back in the mid to late nineties several researchers set out to find the cause of so called tension headaches (also known as cervicogenic headaches). They made a discovery that confirmed what many chiropractors already knew, and had the potential to change how heads would from then on be treated. But, nothing changed. What happened? Maybe we were all too busy watching Bill and Monica on TV, or maybe The Spice Girls had our rapt attention. Maybe over-the-counter pain meds for headaches is way too big of a business for a few researchers to compete with. I do not know, but let me share with you what they found.

First of all, let's talk a little about headaches. There are too many different kinds to even think about, but the broad categories are: tumor related, infection related, blood pressure related, lifestyle related (chemical, drug, alcohol, etc.), and everything else. If you do not know what kind of heads you are having, it is best that you visit a doctor and find out. If you have heads that fall into the "everything else" category, then keep reading, this information is for you.

Surrounding our brain is a thin layer of very sensitive tissue called the dura mater. Through some advanced imaging, the researchers found that there is a small "tissue bridge" connecting this dura mater to the muscles of the cervical spine (neck). They further found that changes to the muscles of the cervical spine greatly affect what happens to the dura. Increased tension in the cervical muscles causes increased tension on the dura and results in kinks or folds in the dura. When this happens, it would be similar to wearing a hat too tight all day.

What causes changes in the muscles? Postural changes in the cervical spine, misalignments of the joints, and reduced mobility of the joints are the most common causes. These issues tend to either be caused by injury or more often just slowly occur over time.

A chiropractor specializes in adjusting or mobilizing the joints of the spinal in order to restore normal motion and reduce the tension on the cervical muscles, thereby reducing the tension on the dura, resulting in reduction in headache intensity and frequency. A Chiropractor will examine your spine to determine if your headaches are cervicogenic in nature and either recommend a course of care or make the appropriate referral if necessary. Please visit the website listed below and check out the articles tab for a link to the article discussed above.

Common Causes For Children's Headaches From Eye and Vision Disorders

Headaches come from many different sources and people often bringing their child to see the eye doctor first to rule out vision problems as a cause. Usually it is not a vision related problem, but there are cases that have a direct correlation with the eyes. If headaches are related to eye problems, most of the time there will be a specific visual task the headaches seem to center around. It could be reading, computer use, video games or time in the sun.

Eyeglass frames can cause pressure behind the ears and on the side of the head if not properly adjusted. Frames that are tilted can alter the effective lens prescription and result in eye strain. Nickel is a common component in many metal frames (and in parts of plastic frames). Nickel allergies are fairly common and can cause discomfort, itching and possible mild headaches.

Your child's prescription may cause headaches under certain conditions. Large uncorrected depths of farsightedness are probably the most common cause in children. With farsightedness, they may have the focusing capacity to pass the eye chart test with flying colors while not wearing prescription lenses. In doing so, they may be close to using all of their focusing reserve capacity. This would be like spending all day walking around carrying close to the maximum amount of weight you can hold. Because the focusing muscle is considered smooth muscle and does not fatigue like the stripped muscles you use for your arms or legs, there is some disagreement on this point. It is really an academic point since the headaches do commonly occur, possibly due to variations in focusing and resultant clarity, constriction of the colored iris tissue, or other unknown factors. How much uncorrected farsightedness is required to cause headaches? We know higher amounts are more significant as age increases but with lower depths it is not as clear what levels create eyestrain and headaches. Sometimes the only way to know is to fill an eyeglasses prescription and see if the headaches resolve.

Focusing problems in general are very hard to diagnose with precision. Eyes may over focus, under focus, have variable focusing, and on rare occasions having focusing spasms. Some prescription medications can cause focusing problems, dry eyes and sensitivity to light increasing the likelihood of headaches.

Uncorrected nearsightedness can cause a child to squint to see the blackboard and result in headaches. Usually they will be complaining about blurry vision, unlike with farsightedness. Nearsightedness has typically been corrected due to blurry vision before there are complaints about headaches.

Astigmatism is a condition where the eye has two different curvatures, shaped more like half of a tennis ball squeezed on top and bottom. While astigmatism does blur vision, children frequently notice more eyestrain than blurriness. The eye is focusing for one curve then the other trying to find the clearest focus point. Moderate to high levels of astigmatism can cause headaches but usually the child has complaints that sound more like eyestrain and may be squinting to try and clear things up.

Convergence insufficiency is one of the leading causes of headaches related to vision in children. When your child reads or works up close the eyes have to perform two functions. First they have to adjust the focus for the correct distance. Secondly they must turn in both eyes (converge) to point in the exact direction of what they are looking at. Most reading is done at about 14 to 16 inches away from the face in children. Kids should be able to keep their eyes pointing at an object at least until it is within 4 to 6 inches from their nose. If they can not, they lack sufficient reserve capacity to keep their eyes pointed at the object and they will have eyestrain and headaches. The severity of the problem is related to how well their brain functions in part shutting down the image from one eye. If they lack this capacity the headaches can be severe with near work, resulting in headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision, and failing grades in school.

Muscle imbalances are similar to convergence insufficiency. Due to eye muscles or tendons that are slowly misshaped or inserted slightly abnormally, their eyes may have a tendency to turn in, out, up, or down. Constantly struggling to keep images from doubling can cause frequent heads if the brain is not good at shutting off one of the images. Fixation disparities are very tiny eye alignment errors that can have a similar result but can only be diagnosed with appropriate testing.

Migraines are a very common cause of headaches and take many different forms. Usually there is a family history of migraines already known. Children that develop migraines at an older age often are carsick at younger ages. These headaches tend to be on one side of the head and may be associated with nausea and light sensitivity. Migraines need to be thoroughly tested and diagnosed in conjunction with your child's pediatrician and possibly a neurologist. The only association migraines have with eyes are some people have migraines triggered by small changes in their eye glass prescription, and some migraines can cause very minor damage to the eyes over time.

Some children and adults are naturally very sensitive to small changes in their eyeglass or contact lens prescription. Every time there is a minor change they start having headaches, and learn quickly it is time for an appointment with the optometrist. Autistic children may have something of an opposite type of problem, and clearing up vision too much may contribute to sensory overload and headaches.

Rare causes of headaches around the eyes are tumors around the optic nerve or eye. Inflammation inside the eye that sometimescompanies childhood arthritis and other autoimmune diseases can cause eye pain, headaches, and light sensitivity. Unusual light sensitivity, red eyes, headaches, abnormally small or large pupils, changes in behavior and school grades can be indicators of illic drug usage, now common even in elementary schools. School counselors usually have a pretty good idea who is involved and it is a quick call.

A sinus infection can result in headaches around the eyes and in rare cases even sight loss.

Never forget lack of sleep. Fatigue, poor diet, caffeine crashes, dehydration, and stress probably cause most headaches. Preventative eye exams for children always helps rule out some easily fixed causes so do not neglect an eye check up if your child is being afflicted with headaches.

Last, but not least is the friend who just got new glasses syndrome. All of a sudden your child develops blurry vision and headaches. Fortunately, an optometrist can diagnose this case pretty easy. Sometimes you may want to consider discussing in advance with your child's eye doctor a place pair of glasses with little or no prescription. Occasional with a strong murdered child it is easier to just let them wear a pair for six months and spend your energy on the bigger battles.

Ten Reasons To Be More Concerned About Your Child's Headaches

1. Headaches that are continuing to get worse or becoming more frequent

2. Headaches that occur in the same area of ​​the eye or head

3. Headaches that wake children up at night or are present at the beginning of the day

4. Headaches accompanied by double vision, blurred vision, or abnormal eye movements

5. Headaches that cause a child to cease their normal activities

6. Any header that occurs after a fall, possible bump to the head, or after loss of consciousness or memory, however brief

7. Any header that is accompanied by changes in responsiveness, sluggish thinking, slurred speech, changes in balance, different pupy sizes, severe vomiting, droopy half open eyes, altered or unusual behavior

8. Headaches that only occur when a specific person is around (possible abuse)

9. Headaches occurring in other people present (possible carbon monoxide poisoning)

10. Severe Headaches with very rapid sunset, high fever, stiff neck

If you have concerns about your child having mild or moderate headaches, starting with appointments with your optometrist and family doctor makes sense, applying to a neurological evaluation if needed.

Drink Up To Avoid Headaches

Women in general are more prone to headaches, but did you know that one of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration? Water makes up about 70 per cent of our body and drinking a sufficient amount of water is essential for health. You can take steps to avoid a dehydration headache simply by drinking the recommended six to eight glasses of water every day.

When dehydration occurs there is water loss from the body but you also lose some electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which are essential to your body's day-to-day activities. Once your body is dehydrated, it leads to a variety of symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness and muscle cramps. Severe cases of dehydration are also potentially life threatening. It is worth noting that dehydration does not just occur in hot weather and you do not have to be thirsty to be dehydrated.

It's not exactly clear how dehydration causes a headache but some schools of thought believe that this is because the body tries to conserve the remaining water it has by constricting the blood vessels. This then reduces the supply of oxygen and blood to the brain, which leads to a headache.

A dehydration headache can usually be felt on the front, back or at one side of the head, or even through the entire head. Often, even moving your head sideways makes the pain worse, and bending down is too much to bear.

One of the most common ways to get dehydrated is during exercise, especially when you are working out during periods of excess heat. The more strenuous your exercise rule, the more water you should drink before, during and after your workout. And, as the temperature rises, so should your water consumption.

For those who sweat a lot while exercising, it is best to make sure you consume more water before, during and after exercise, as your body needs more fluid to replace the water you have lost through perspiration.

The kind of fluids you drink contribute to how hydrated your body gets. Water is absolutely the best form of fluid your body needs to stay hydrated , while sports drinks are also a good bet after a workout. Try to avoid carbonated soft drinks which are high in sugar and calories. And, of course, beverages such as coffee and alcohol are a no-no; excessive consumption of them can, by itself, lead to dehydration headaches, no thanks to their diuretic properties.