7 Hacks for how to get rid of migraine postdrome symptoms
I know when I was suffering from migraines that as soon as the pain ended, I wanted to get back to living and catch up on what I missed while I was down.
But it doesn’t end with the pain, it ends with the hangover and this can sometimes take hours to days to end.
Luckily we can use what we know about migraines and our bodies to help our bodies overcome this postdrome hangover faster.
In this article I’m going to talk about what a migraine postdrome is, how we can understand it and 7 hacks to get rid of the symptoms.
What is the definition of a migraine postdrome?
A migraine postdrome is a relatively newer term and much less known than the migraine aura or migraine attack phases.
The postdrome is actually its own complete phase that happens after the attack, headache and pain phase.
The international headache society defines it as:
“Postdrome: A symptomatic phase, lasting up to 48 hours, following the resolution of pain in migraine attacks with or without aura. Among the common postdromal symptoms are fatigue, elated or depressed mood and cognitive difficulties.”
But this doesn’t do it much justice.
Really what it feels like is a hangover and it’s often called the migraine hangover.
How long does a migraine postdrome last?
The migraine postdrome according to the definition lasts up to 48 hours but can range from anywhere between a few hours to a few days depending on the symptoms.
The most common report to me is that it will last about 1 day so that it takes an extra sleep cycle to really shake off the effects.
This means if you have a migraine attack from 10am to 8pm on a tuesday, you may wake up on wednesday with hangover type symptoms and then need one more sleep on wednesday night before you feel normal again on thursday.
But everyone is different and individual sensitivities and symptoms apply here.
Common symptoms of a migraine postdrome
There are many varying symptoms of the postdrome and in one study they found that 81% of migraine sufferer participants experienced at least one non headache symptoms after their migraine.
Luckily these symptoms resolved within 24 hours.
The chart below shows the symptoms experienced:
Often it’s the cognitive symptoms that are the worst because they prevent us from being able to take on a workload.
See the Migraine Professional facebook communities response to migraine postdromes here.
How do we understand the migraine postdrome?
Let’s get into the good stuff.
When we want to understand a migraine and the postdrome that comes with it we have to understand that migraines are linked to higher levels of:
- Mitochondrial dysfunction
- Oxidative stress
These are all damaging to the brain.
But it’s not the actual migraine causing them.
It’s the brain itself that is experiencing these sources of stress on it.
And then if we understand that pain is a reflex by the body used to protect itself…
For example if we put our hand on a hot stove, we get pain and our reflex immediately pulls it back before we even have a chance to think.
So if our brain is under attack, stress or being damaged, then this pain reflex we call migraine may actually be a protective mechanism to prevent further damage to the brain.
Dr. Borkum explains that “Thus, it seems likely that migraine attacks are not simply triggered by oxidative stress, they actively protect and repair the brain from it.”
This is huge.
It completely changes the paradigm of the way we’ve been treating migraines by “getting rid” of the pain.
And there are many studies coming out now that back the idea that nutrients our brains need and that migraine sufferers are deficient in may actually work better than some medications.
So if we take the idea that our brain is under stress/being damaged and that migraines are a protective mechanism that is actually helping to release protective chemicals, then we need to learn to support this.
To support this we need to give it the nutrients it needs to repair, prevent what’s causing the damage as much as we can and give more attention to our body’s systems that are trying to heal us.
7 Hacks on how to get rid of migraine postdrome symptoms
Before we begin it’s important to remove the causes and contributors to migraine as much as you can so read through some of our other articles like complex and complicated migraines, what to do when a migraine won’t go away and the foundation principles.
Our #1 healing mechanism that our brains absolutely must have is sleep.
Sleep is a time when the brain shrinks by 20% and squeezes out or detoxifies all the waste products that get created throughout the day from living life.
This means we need to develop a sleep regimen that we know can give us amazing sleep every time we need it.
But sleep is something we actually work up to and a few pieces go into making a good sleep.
– Learn to wind down
This means you take your body and the higher energy during the day and you start to bring it down. Feel it out, it’s your body. Stop doing anything that requires mental or physical effort and anything that gets your heart rate up. Kill any blue light coming from screens like phones, tvs and computers and use an app like twilight to help.
Remember that no matter where you are, your body is adapting to the levels of light in your environment. When the sun is rising, there is a bluish glow to the sky, when the sun is setting there is a orange glow to the sky. These triggers tell our body is time to wind up or wind down and the more we can sync ourselves up with them, the better our repair cycle during sleep will be.
– Stabilize blood sugar
Eat a meal containing logs not twigs. This means you want to give your body plenty of healthy fats and proteins with a decent amount of carbohydrates so that your food digests slower and gets released into your blood over a long period of time. This will keep blood sugar stable because if your blood sugar drops during sleep, you’ll wake up.
– List it out
One of the most common things that prevents good restful sleep is monkey mind. This is where your mind just keeps running and racing and thinking of new things. What you want to do before you start your wind down routine is make a list on paper of everything you need to do or remember. This will take the burden off you and allow you to let go easier. The easier your body lets go, the easier you’ll enter REM sleep and get much needed repair.
– Get some magnesium in you
Magnesium is the relaxation mineral and many migraine sufferers are deficient in it. Luckily it’s very safe and can be taken in through a topical spray, a supplement or through a bath with epsom salt. It’s an easy way to help your brain and muscles relax and it also cools any damage going on in the brain.
2. Anti inflammatory foods
It’s crucial to remove foods that are causing the migraine yes. This means all inflammatory, sensitive and allergic foods.
But we need nutrition and calories to feed our brain and help us repair the damage while cooling down any inflammation going on.
Nutrients like antioxidants are specifically used to “cool” oxidation which connects all migraines.
We want to use as many anti-inflammatory foods as we can get our hands on. This means vegetables, spices and herbs are our best friends.
Some common anti inflammatory foods are:
– Wild salmon
– Pre soaked walnuts
– Dark leafy greens
The easiest way to get nutrients while having a hangover is a smoothie.
Along with anti inflammatory compounds we also want to provide the building blocks of our brains.
This means we need proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, cofactors and more!
Because every single plant or animal cell we eat comes with these we just want to make sure we eat lots of them and source them from a good place.
This means, wild, local, pastured, organic and biodynamic foods wherever we can find them.
You want to make sure you include lots of:
– Wild and pastured meats
– Soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds
– Vegetables in all colors of the rainbow as they contain different nutrients based on the colors
– Organic fruits
– Lots of herbs and spices in cooking
As long as you aren’t sensitive to any of the foods. If it’s wild shrimp but you have a shellfish sensitivity and get bloated every time you eat it, you are not getting benefits from it.
See our food triggers guide if you want to know more about food sensitivities.
4. Get your heart pumping
Our heart is our main source of delivering nutrients to our brains.
This means if we want to deliver more of the crucial nutrients our brains need to stop damage, repair and build stronger brain cells…
We need to get our heart going.
It doesn’t have to be big and we don’t have to go for a 5k run.
Getting up, stretching and flexing our body from our hands to our shoulders chest and back…
And from our feet to our thighs, butt and back.
Flex it, stretch it and go out for a walk or a swim to get your heart rate up and increase your body’s functioning.
5. Detoxification organs and lymph
Our lymphatic system is our main way of removing waste from our tissues and brains.
This is a big area and we cover everything and go into depth in the 10 steps program here.
The lymphatic system is huge and we actually have more lymphatic fluid than we do blood in our bodies.
The blood takes nutrients to our brains and the lymph takes waste away from them. They are like the garbage men or sewer system.
The problem is they don’t have their own pump like the blood does with the heart.
They rely on our organs, breathing and muscular contractions to drain lymph into our detoxification organs like feces and urine.
So we need to support our detoxification organs.
This means drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after the migraine. Making sure the fluids we have contain plenty of minerals with a sprinkle of sea salt.
And we need to have bowel movements regularly, ideally 30 minutes after every meal but at least once a day of a big fluffy and satisfying poop.
But we also need to breath deep, deep down so that our lungs push our diaphragm down and it massages our digestive organs to pump lymph.
Muscular contractions like the ones from stretching and flexing help move lymph as well.
This is why exercise, even light exercise like yoga, walking, cycling and swimming is amazing for detoxification.
You can also try a lymphatic massage such as the one in the video below:
6. Oxygen and 7. Relaxation
Our brains energy generation relies on a good flow of blood and oxygen as well as low stress.
We can combine these by using simple breathing techniques that lower stress, bring relaxation and feed our body more oxygen.
Tip: Slow and deep into your belly
See the video below for 3 techniques to lower stress and anxiety:
These are all crucial in our body’s ability to repair from the damage causing migraines and supporting our ability to shorten the hangover.
Making sure to:
- Get enough proper sleep
- Protect with anti inflammatory foods
- Feed the building blocks of new brain cells
- Get your heart pumping
- Support waste removal
- Use breathing techniques
- Get quality relaxation time
As we get better at using these hacks we will get better at shortening needed recovery time and relying less on things like caffeine.
But if we can prevent our brains from getting damaged in the first place we can take even better steps towards living healthier and more fulfilled lives and this is why I’d like to invite you to join the Migraine Professional Community here.
Comment below and let me know what you do for your hangovers and share with others who have a tough time with theirs.