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Helping Kids With Migraine Sleep Better

Helping kids with Migraine sleep better can reduce Migraine attacks. While Migraine has no cure, the benefits of quality sleep include relief from Migraine pain. 

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No respecter of gender, culture, or economic status, Migraine attacks can begin at any age. One in ten school children, according to The Migraine, have Migraine. 

For children with Migraine, bedtime routines may have been a struggle since infancy. And no wonder. The American Migraine Foundation reports that infant colic may be a precursor to childhood Migraine. Parents of colicky children are all too familiar with the struggle to get an uncomfortable child to sleep.

Yet, sleep is important as a promising non-drug therapy for Migraine management

  • Babies to one-year-olds require 12 to 15 hours daily
  • One to three-year-olds: 12 to 14 hours 
  • Four to six-year-olds: 10 to 12 hours
  • Seven to 12-year-olds: 10 to 11 hours

Babies and Preschoolers Sleeping Better

Family counselor, June Hunt, says avoiding bedtime battles and assuring your child sleeps soundly begins with the Three R’s of bedtime: routine, routine, and routine. Find the schedule that works for your family and stick with it.

Keep in mind studies show that television and movies just prior to bed stimulate the brain, making it tougher for your child with Migraine to settle into rest. Additionally, after that initial bedtime sleepiness, your child can swing into a second wind. Children begin to calm as they play board games, build with Legos, color, play with play dough, and read books.

  • Start the bedtime routine before your child gets that second wind. 
  • Give your child fair warning that playtime is coming to a close. “Five more minutes and then we’ll get ready for bed.”
  • Sing a song together as you put away toys to help your child shift from playtime to bedtime. 
  • Water is a natural tranquilizer. Include a bath or shower in the bedtime routine. 
  • Play peek-a-boo as you pull pajamas over your child’s head, and pop hands and feet through pajama arms and legs.
  • Sing a song while brushing teeth. The child knows brushing is done when the familiar song ends.
  • Set a time boundary for bedtime tasks and if they are done in the allotted minutes, your child can choose a certain number of books to read. Let your three-year-old choose three books, and your four-year-old select four books. 
  • Repercussion: If the child dawdles, subtract books. For example, if he did not get the toys picked up in a timely manner, it may cost him a book. 
  • Reward: When your child does things in a timely fashion or beats the clock, the natural reward is extra reading time.
  • Laugh together. Tuck your child into bed by making him into a make-believe ice cream sundae. Put the child into the bed – that’s the ice cream. The first blanket is the hot fudge, second blanket is the whipped cream, and the final blanket is the cherry on top. 
  • Regardless of the child’s behavior, snuggling is essential. Your child sleeps better knowing your love is unconditional. 
  • If your child has separation issues, when you leave the bedroom, give him a choice. “Do you want me to leave on this nightlight or turn it off?” “Do you want your door open or closed?” 

Elementary Ages Sleeping Better 

To help school-age kids with Migraine establish good sleep routines, homework and outside activities must be factored into the family routine. 

  • Your presence at his activities from sports to music lessons is a comfort. He won’t always remember what you said, but your child will remember you were there to say it.
  • Prior to bedtime, build in time and place for schoolwork. Be available to offer help.
  • Consider playing classical music, which is shown to increase brain function when students are doing schoolwork and calms your child to be ready for sleep. 
  • For bedtime success with an older child, empower him in the process. Provide a list of bedtime steps the child can follow. Say, “I’m putting you in charge of getting yourself ready for bed. You choose what order you do these, so long as you are finished by a certain time.”
  • For a perfectionist or child who procrastinates, place an analog clock in the bathroom. Help him see how much time he has for each component of the process. Timers don’t work because often our children don’t have an internal sense of time, and a timer can induce stress. Analog clocks are imperative to see and understand how long it takes to complete a task. 
  • Tucked in bed, older children enjoy chapter books read aloud over several evenings. Tell your child remembrances about when he was younger, share memories about your childhood, and stories about grandparents and extended family members.
  • Make up a tale together. 
  • Allow your child to read by himself for an additional half hour before turning out the light.
  • Some children enjoy listening to recorded books as they go to sleep.

Implement one or two suggestions toward better sleep routines for your child with Migraine. Add to the routine until bedtime becomes good medicine in the management of attacks.

Bestselling author, PeggySue Wells writes between Migraines. Four of her seven children experience Migraine. 


Meet PeggySue

We’ve heard of soccer moms and stage mothers. I’m a writer who trailers my kids and horses across the nation. My Apple computer, fondly christened MacBeth, is the essential I bring along.