As if seasonal flu and cold bugs weren’t enough, for many Canadians the cold weather brings on a winter headache, too.
Why are you more likely to get a headache in winter? What’s different about a winter headache? And what are some natural remedies for reducing how often you get a headache in the winter months?
Read on to find out.
Cold & Dark: Triggers for a Winter Headache
Extreme temperatures may be to blame. If you always feel worse before a storm or temperature drop, there’s a reason. Changes in weather shift the atmospheric pressure, and we experience this change in pressure physically.
But weather is just one reason. Darkness may also cause headaches in winter.
When our skin is deprived of sunlight, production of vitamin D drops, potentially triggering migraines.
Lack of sunlight also inhibits serotonin. When this feel-good hormone dips we can experience depression and anxiety, both of which are risk factors for headaches.
Sinus headaches can be caused by infection and irritation, either from the congestion of a common cold or simply the dry, indoor air.
Add to these factors a good dose of seasonal stress: holiday bills, the prospect of coping with darkness and cold for months. We feel this stress physically, and under stress our neck and shoulder muscles tighten, often triggering tension headaches.
“It seems clear from the available data that TH’s are more associated with muscle tension or scalp tension than any other headache type. From the data available, Mg supplementation appears to be of great benefit in many of these situations.” (Medical Hypotheses, Tension headaches and muscle tension: is there a role for magnesium?)
Natural Remedies for a Headache in Winter
Whatever the cause, you don’t need to take winter headaches lying down. Try these tips:
1. Boost your serotonin levels with light exposure
As often as possible get outside. Expose your face to the sun, especially in the morning. The intensity of morning sun kicks-off serotonin production. When indoors, find a sunny perch. Even indirect natural sunlight appears to lower stress and pain.
Magnesium can also help boost serotonin levels.
2. Tap into natural pain relief & relaxation
Your body has built-in mechanisms for reducing pain, but you need to give it the raw ingredients. Magnesium, for one, plays a major role in regulating pain and most people don’t get enough in their diets.
This essential mineral helps to produce vitamin D and serotonin, relaxes muscles and blood vessels, preventing tension and increasing oxygen flow to the brain.
Magnesium also reduces the inflammation that causes sinus headaches and relaxes muscles, warding off the tension that can cause headaches in winter or any time of year.
If you decide to supplement, look for a highly-absorbable form like the magnesium citrate found in Natural Calm.
Try Natural Calm magnesium to boost your intake, naturally. It’s a great tasting, highly-absorbable form of magnesium that you take as a hot tea! The ultimate in winter self-care for the headache-prone.
3. Ward off sinus infections
A trip south may not be in the cards, but you can recreate at least some of the atmosphere with an inexpensive humidifier. Breathing moist air can ward off sinus infections.
Prevent congestion by building your resilience. A healthy diet is essential, and so is sleep.
Even when you’re feeling well, make rest a priority as a preventative measure. If you don’t sleep well, again, you may be low in magnesium.
4. Reset your circadian rythm with melatonin
Your melatonin levels may be low when you experience winter headaches, according to some theories. Try a melatonin supplement about half an hour before bed to boost your levels and reset your sleep clock.
You can also try Calmful Sleep, our magnesium supplement with melatonin, GABA, and l-theanine. Calmful Sleep is specially formulated to have a calming effect, which may be just what you need to ward off a winter headache.