Weekend Headache - Why?

Just when I want to take some time to enjoy myself, it hits - a weekend headache.  But why?  What's causing it?  Is this a unique headache all its own, or a symptom of some other problem?  And what can I do to stop it?

Weekend headache holding you back?
It may help to know that this is a question researchers have asked as well.  We don't have all the answers to the questions about weekend headache, but we've come a long way toward understanding what exactly is going on.

Migraine? Tension Headache?

Just what kind of a headache is it?  Well, it doesn't seem to be just one kind.  If you have migraine disease, for example, and are prone to migraine attacks, you're likely to be having another migraine attack.  The same goes for tension-type headache - they can be weekend headaches too.  Check out this study about what weekend headaches are.

So it's important to look at the big picture.  If you've been diagnosed with a certain type of headache or migraine, and these symptoms are similar, that's where you need to start.

Of course, if you're only getting headaches on the weekends, and don't have a diagnosis, you need to talk to your doctor.  It's very important to check with a doctor who knows your medical history about any kind of headache you have, if you haven't talked to her about it before.

Stopping Weekend Headaches

Some people, as we've said, are more susceptible to migraine or headache attacks than others.  And believe it or not, there's still a lot we don't know about both migraine and tension-type headaches.  It's been theorized that they may both stem from a common cause.

When your body is particularly prone to headaches, it's likely to be very sensitive to certain changes.  Changes in food, sleeping habits, environment - many things can cause the change.  Some people believe that a simple "stress let-down" triggers an attack - in other words, when you stop to relax after a busy week.

But there are some other causes - things you might be able to do something about.  Here are some of the most common:
  1. Change of sleep patterns:  Yes, sleeping in - any change in sleep schedule, can trigger an attack.  I know you don't want to do it, but you may need to get up at the same time every day, weekends included.  Also, getting less or more sleep than usual may cause problems - staying up late for example.  But some people find that they can get away with staying up late as long as they still get up on schedule.
  2. Caffeine changes:  You always have a cup of coffee when you get to work?  But on the weekend, you're still sleeping at that time?  Or maybe you get more caffeine on the weekend.  Whether more or less, it could be the change that's triggering your weekend headache.  The best answer may be to avoid the caffeine altogether, or at least cut down.  But if you aren't going to go with that option, at least try to keep your caffeine intake steady.
  3. Food/blood sugar:  Changes in blood sugar levels can be major triggers.  Some people find that they feel better if they always eat a healthy breakfast, and always at the same time - even if they go back to bed afterwards!  Watch how your eating habits change on the weekend.  Drinking wine?  Significant diet change?
  4. Environment:  This is a wide topic, but think about how your environment changes on the weekend.  Could that be triggering an attack?

The Big Picture

Finding a trigger like those above may be your best treatment.  However, if that doesn't work, and you're having an ongoing problem with headaches, don't ignore them.  There is treatment available to help keep them away, and many people have found excellent solutions.

For more about treating migraine, try here.  For more about tension type headaches, read here.  For more about the link between migraine and tension-type headache, check here.

The National Headache Foundation has a short write-up about weekend headache here.