How "Springing Forward" Impacts Headaches

On March 11 we ‘spring forward’ as Daylight Saving Time begins. Many of us look forward to brighter days, but the time change can be a real headache for some people.

Posted: Mar. 7, 2018 10:57 PM

CLEVELAND – On March 11 we ‘spring forward’ as Daylight Saving Time begins.

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Many of us look forward to brighter days, but the time change can be a real headache for some people.

Emad Estemalik, M.D., a headache specialist at Cleveland Clinic, said losing an hour of sleep can bring misery for people who struggle with migraine headaches.

“A lot of migraine sufferers will have a little bit of sleep deprivation, if their sleep is affected by this change, so they’ll see an increase in headache frequency during that period,” he said.

According to Dr. Estemalik, Daylight Saving Time can be a trigger for people who suffer from cluster headaches too.

Dr. Estemalik said those impacted by headaches during the time change may want to consider taking melatonin to help them get a good night’s sleep because regulating the sleep cycle can help keep headaches at bay. Once the sleep trouble subsides, he said melatonin can be discontinued.

In addition to the time change, weather during this time of year can be a challenge for headache sufferers as well.

Recent research shows weather, specifically barometric pressure, is associated with migraine headache pain.

Experts believe weather-related changes, like sudden drops in temperature or pressure, may impact certain receptors in the brain and cause more headaches.

Some headache triggers – like the weather and Daylight Saving Time – can’t be changed, but reducing exposure to triggers that are within our control, can help bring relief.

“A lot of patients know that certain beverages, certain food, can cause the headaches or increase their headache frequency,” said Dr. Estemalik. “So, around that time if you know a storm is coming, or weather changes are coming, or the time change is coming, try to modify all of your triggers and that will probably help.”

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