5 Surprising Triggers of Migraines

 In Blog

Migraines are one of the most common neurological conditions, affecting roughly 1 in 7 people. While the cause of migraines is still not fully understood, there are certain things that are known to trigger them. If you’re looking for ways to reduce your chances of getting a migraine, here are 5 surprising triggers to watch out for.


If you suffer from migraines, you know how stressful—as well as painful—they can be. Migraines can cause missed work, time away from family and friends, and fear of when the next episode will strike. Here’s the real rub: Stress itself is a known cause of migraines, so being stressed to the point that you have a migraine can lead to…more migraines. In addition, if you have a high-stress work week followed by a low-stress weekend, the swing between two extremes can be another migraine trigger.

Not Enough Sleep

The optimal sleep span for adults is seven to eight hours a night, and this is especially true for those who suffer from migraines. Research suggests that too little sleep causes changes in the expression of key proteins that help regulate the sensory response in facial nerves (the ones thought to play a key role in migraines).

Too Much Sleep

On the flip side, changes in sleep patterns (read: getting five hours of shut-eye on weeknights and then 10 hours on the weekends) may also trigger a migraine. In fact, oversleeping on Saturday and Sunday can trigger what’s known as the “weekend headache”.

The Weather

Bright sunlight, hot temperatures, high humidity, and a change in weather system are all potential migraine triggers. One study found that three out of four migraine sufferers reported the onset of a migraine with a drop in barometric pressure.

Chewing Gum

In a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Neurology, when daily gum chewers with recurring headaches gave up the habit, 87 percent saw improvement in their headaches, and some had no headaches at all. Researchers then asked some participants to begin chewing gum again; 100 percent of them reported headaches returning within days. This supports what other research has found: There’s a link between temporomandibular disorders and head pain. Gum-chewing places a heavy load on the temporomandibular joint, possibly triggering a migraine.

The Brain Center is here to support patients and their caregivers in their journey. Contact us to learn more from our Neurologists.