Lifestyle Management

Trigger Avoidance to Control Migraines

One of the simplest but most important things to do in the management of migraines is to manage your migraine triggers. While it seems an obvious thing to do, it may not always be easy. Some things are obvious: eat regular meals, maintain good hydration, get enough sleep. Things that are not as easy to accomplish, although we "know we should," are keeping a regular schedule and a regular bedtime, exercising regularly, and maintaining a moderate caffeine intake.

It is impossible, of course, to control the amount of stress that we are exposed to on a day-to-day basis, but stress management techniques are available to help with managing the toll it takes.

Lifestyle Migraine Triggers

There are many things that count as lifestyle triggers, but if you follow a generally healthy lifestyle, it covers most of them.

  • Get enough sleep. Although many people try to skimp on sleep, most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Follow a regular bedtime. Did you know that sleeping in more than an hour past your normal awakening time can trigger a migraine for some people?
  • Drink enough water – dehydration causes headaches.
  • Eat regular meals – skipping meals can trigger a migraine.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Use caffeine moderately.
  • Use alcohol moderately.
  • Take breaks.
  • Take vacations.


Sleep disorders deserve special attention. There have been two studies which have identified sleep disorders as a risk factor for the development of chronic daily headache, and improving sleep can help with the control of migraine. If getting on a good sleep schedule does not help, and you are still having trouble sleeping, discuss this with your doctor. A sleep study may be helpful in making a proper diagnosis, as the problem may be more complex than simple insomnia.

Maintaining a healthy weight can also be important in controlling headaches. There have been several studies that have identified obesity as a risk factor for the development of chronic daily headache, as well as several studies linking obesity to the increased frequency and severity of migraine.

If you can maintain a regular schedule, you will be one step ahead of the game in keeping your headaches at bay.

Managing lifestyle triggers can go a long way toward reducing migraine headache frequency and severity, and decreasing the amount of medication you might need.