“We know that the sun is very important to live. We need the sun.”
If you notice that you’re more likely to get migraines in the summer, after long days outside, or on vacations, it’s possible that sunlight is a migraine trigger for you. (Here are other common migraine triggers.)
“Too much sunlight can most definitely be risky to individuals who are prone to migraine,” says Cynthia Armand, MD, neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. There are two key reasons:
Dehydration: “The sun emits heat, and that heat can in turn lead to dehydration,” says Dr. Armand. “There needs to be a certain level of hydration for things to run smoothly.” Dehydration causes the blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to migraine.
Photosensitivity: “Sunlight emits certain wavelengths of light and those wavelengths can be really disruptive to how the brain interprets the light that’s coming through the nerves,” says Dr. Armand.
If sunlight is a migraine trigger for you, you don’t have to move to cloudy Seattle or hibernate in your home. Here are habits that can help prevent migraines from sunlight:
1. Stay hydrated
“Before going out into the heat, make sure that you drink a lot of water, at least two to three glasses [to] keep the levels of hydrations up in the body,” says Dr. Armand.
2. Wear sunglasses
Protecting your eyes with the appropriate sunglasses can help prevent migraines from photosensitivity. Talk to an eyecare provider about the right sunglasses with proper tinting for migraine prevention.
3. Stay cool
Keeping the body cool can help prevent dehydration. Dr. Armand suggests wearing a hat to shade the face, staying in shaded areas, and wearing breathable garments.
4. Do *not* avoid the sun
“Avoiding the sun is not recommended at all. We know that the sun is very important to live. We need the sun. The sun gives us certain nutrients like vitamin D. Our body needs that to function,” says Dr. Armand.
Sunlight also works with your internal clock to help regulate your hormones, which affects your sleep-wake cycles and your mood.
“If someone loves to spend time in the sun and, unfortunately, struggles with migraines because of that, I want to make sure that you live your best life. And the first thing that we would love for you to do is make sure that you see a headache specialist, because we can help you do that,” says Dr. Armand.
Dr. Armand is a neurologist and headache specialist at Montefiore Headache Center in New York City.
00:01.000 --> 00:03.599
00:03.600 --> 00:06.099
Too much sunlight can most definitely be risky
00:06.100 --> 00:09.132
to individuals who are prone to migraine,
00:09.133 --> 00:12.199
reason being is that the sun emits heat,
00:12.200 --> 00:15.032
and that heat can in turn lead to dehydration.
00:15.033 --> 00:17.166
The second thing is that the sunlight emits
00:17.167 --> 00:19.632
certain wavelengths of light, and that can lead
00:19.633 --> 00:22.066
to something called photosensitivity.
00:22.067 --> 00:24.632
And photosensitivity itself can be a characteristic
00:24.633 --> 00:28.966
of migraines, and also can lead to a migraine attack.
00:28.967 --> 00:36.299
00:36.300 --> 00:39.399
We know for a fact through research,
00:39.400 --> 00:41.632
scientific research, that dehydration is
00:41.633 --> 00:44.266
a very potent trigger of migraine.
00:44.267 --> 00:46.799
There needs to be a certain level of hydration
00:46.800 --> 00:49.799
for things to run smoothly, so we know
00:49.800 --> 00:53.966
that our blood vessels can close or become dilated,
00:53.967 --> 00:55.966
and through those processes
00:55.967 --> 00:58.166
can cause a migraine attack.
00:58.167 --> 01:00.599
Before going out into the heat, make sure that you
01:00.600 --> 01:03.632
drink a lot of water, at least two to three glasses.
01:03.633 --> 01:06.599
That will keep the levels of hydration up in the body.
01:06.600 --> 01:08.132
The next thing, they want to make sure
01:08.133 --> 01:09.632
they're prepared for the heat
01:09.633 --> 01:12.832
by wearing appropriate sunscreen,
01:12.833 --> 01:15.999
and also doing things to keep the body cool,
01:16.000 --> 01:18.766
like having sunglasses that will shield the eyes
01:18.767 --> 01:22.532
from the heat, wearing a hat, staying in the shade,
01:22.533 --> 01:24.132
and also your garments.
01:24.133 --> 01:26.399
You want to make sure you wear breathable garments
01:26.400 --> 01:29.732
and something that will shield against the sunlight
01:29.733 --> 01:31.866
and the heat that it emits.
01:31.867 --> 01:35.999
Avoiding the sun is not recommended at all.
01:36.000 --> 01:38.499
We know that the sun is very important to live.
01:38.500 --> 01:39.899
We need the sun.
01:39.900 --> 01:42.632
The sun gives us certain nutrients, like vitamin D.
01:42.633 --> 01:44.732
Our body needs that to function.
01:44.733 --> 01:48.666
The sun also works with an internal clock in our bodies
01:48.667 --> 01:50.599
that helps us know when it's time to wake up,
01:50.600 --> 01:52.099
when it's time to go to sleep,
01:52.100 --> 01:55.066
and it helps our hormones function appropriately.
01:55.067 --> 01:58.832
If someone loves to spend time in the sun
01:58.833 --> 02:00.899
and unfortunately struggles with migraines
02:00.900 --> 02:03.132
because of that, the first thing that we would love
02:03.133 --> 02:04.966
for you to do is make sure you see
02:04.967 --> 02:07.699
a headache specialist because we can help find a plan
02:07.700 --> 02:10.299
for you, and that's really important to us,
02:10.300 --> 02:11.566
so you can do this.
02:11.567 --> 02:14.299
We want to empower you to live life well
02:14.300 --> 02:18.366
and enjoy the sunlight, all while being prepared.
02:18.367 --> 02:24.200
Photophobia (light sensitivity) and migraine. Mount Royal, NJ: American Migraine Foundation. (Accessed on February 19, 2020 at https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/photophobia-light-sensitivity-migraine/.)
Preventive treatment of migraine in adults. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020. (Accessed on February 19, 2020 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/preventive-treatment-of-migraine-in-adults.)
Tips for avoiding summer migraines and headaches. Mount Royal, NJ: American Migraine Foundation. (Accessed on February 19, 2020 at https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/tips-for-avoiding-summer-migraines-and-headaches/.)