Migraines and Me: Part Four


Part four of how migraines affect me

It’s been a few years since I wrote about my migraines and how they affect me. My migraines are starting to come back more often, although not as much as at their worst. I am taking tablets Propranolol to help prevent them, which for the most part do work.

The NHS describe a migraine as “usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head” and in a lot of cases, have other symptoms as well. With mine, I often get a stiff neck / sore shoulder, nausea, aura, nose bleeds and occasionally slurred or garbled speech (sometimes my sentences come out in the backwards or the words in the wrong order – think of being drunk, although I don’t drink).

While my migraines can be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, too much sleep, not eating properly, I have also found another reason which is causing migraines when I’m waking up in the mornings: my pillow! I am very hard on pillows and have to change them quite regularly as I ruin them – they either go flat or out of shape very quickly. Therefore, I have tried lots of pillows, cheap and reasonably priced pillows haven’t made much difference.

So, while looking around for a better pillow (sad, I know – having to research a pillow before buying) and reading lots of websites about sleep and migraine, it is generally considered that the right pillow could help and there are different types of pillows for the way you sleep:

Back sleepers may benefit from a thinner pillow with extra lift on the bottom third to help cradle your neck.

Stomach sleepers may benefit from the thinnest of pillows, or no pillow at all.

Side sleepers may benefit from a from pillow with an extra-wide gusset.

I’m a side sleeper so started looking for a pillow with a gusset (I had never heard of one before – I’ve now also seen them called walled pillows). This is pillow that has rectangular panels along all four sides rather than the top panel sewn directly to the bottom panel. This helps increase its thickness and helps to better support the neck and head.

So far, this pillow has helped (although I think I might need a firmer one as I bought medium-firm), and I am waking with less neck and shoulder pain, which lead to my migraines. So, for me, a gusset pillow (walled pillow) or good quality firm memory foam pillow seem to be the best bet.

It is recommended that you change your pillow every 18 months or so anyway. Apparently, the best way to see if your pillow is “dead” and needs replacing is to fold it in half. If it doesn’t spring back, it’s time to get a new one.

A good night’s sleep seems essential to help manage migraines. I already have a good quality memory foam mattress and am nearly there with the correct pillow. Between them and the tablets hopefully I can reduce the amount of migraine attacks I suffer from, or at least the severity of them.

While I am still having migraines, a decent pillow is helping. While I doubt I will ever be free of them, hopefully I can manage them a lot better. After all, having a three day headache and anything I can do to lessen the effects must be worth a try.

If you have had any success in managing migraines by changing your pillow please let me know your thoughts by emailing info@davidsavage.co.uk.

Click here to read Part Five of my My Migraines and Me series

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