You feel the onset of headaches. Without hesitation, you reach for the medicine bottle. You wait for the meds to kick in and then move on until the next headache emerges. If this routine sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Drugs are quick, immediate fixes for headaches. They help ease your pain in the moment, which is all you probably care about when experiencing a headache. And while prescription drugs are helpful in pain relief, they are only treating the symptom. Your headache may retreat temporarily, but it will come back with a vengeance.
So how do we wean ourselves off the medicine cabinet? We must find the underlying cause of your headaches. Once we know that, we can properly treat what’s really triggering them. Fortunately for each type of common trigger, there are several effective methods for treating headache triggers, without reaching for the prescription bottle.
Headaches Caused by Sleep Disorders
If your headaches are triggered by problems with sleep, there are several remedies to try. Some are simple in theory but can be difficult to implement, especially if you have a demanding job with irregular hours.
Sleep Schedule: Strive for a regular sleep schedule in which you wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day — even on the weekends.
Improve Where You Sleep: Investing in a quality mattress and a supportive pillow can help improve your quality and quantity of sleep.
Limit Caffeine: Caffeine keeps you awake. So if you have difficulty sleeping, cut back on caffeine — especially in the afternoon.
Use Magnesium as a Sleep Aid: Magnesium is natural and safe. Start taking magnesium supplements (or an Epsom salt bath) before bed.
Cut Down on Screen Time: Limiting your exposure to computer and mobile phone screens in the late hours will reduce stimulation and may also help you fall asleep.
Headaches Triggered by Stress
Some headaches are triggered by stress. You’ll always have stressors in your life, but there are ways to manage stress so it doesn’t impact your health.
Biofeedback and Relaxation Training: Many headache sufferers have great results with cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches you how to control your physical response to stress.
DIY Methods for Relaxation: If your headaches are less severe, you can try DIY methods such as exercise, deep breathing, and massage.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture can also be an effective treatment although its efficacy depends on the practitioner.
Headaches Caused by Pinched Nerves
Headaches caused by pinched nerves in the upper spine are very painful but can be easier to pinpoint. Pinched nerve headaches are frequently caused by poor sleeping position, bad posture, and professions that require staying in one position for long periods of time (such as sitting at an office desk).
Change Your Work Routine: Look into adjusting your work routine so you can change positions throughout the day. This might include taking short breaks to stand up and stretch or adding a standing desk.
Fix Your Body Posture: Retraining your body posture isn’t easy. While it can be done on your own, it usually is most successful with physical therapy.
Change Your Sleep Position: Pinched nerves are often caused by sleeping on your tummy. Try changing your sleep position to lay on your back. if it proves challenging to change, the sleeping position you’ve become accustomed to, it may require a sleep evaluation.
Get more help with avoiding triggers and getting migraine relief. Read my 7 Tips to Get Your Migraines Under Control.