A migraine hangover or postdrome may involve symptoms like feeling drained, mood changes, and trouble focusing. It could feel similar to an alcohol hangover, with a few differences.

After the intense pain from a migraine episode subsides, you still may not feel 100% just yet. This is known as a migraine hangover.

A migraine occurs in four stages:

  1. prodrome
  2. aura
  3. headache
  4. postdrome

The last stage, postdrome, is also referred to as the postictal stage.

A migraine hangover is an in-between phase, where the pain is gone and you’re on your way to recovery, but you still haven’t quite returned back to your baseline.

This type of hangover may not occur every time you experience a migraine episode, but it’s pretty common. One recent study noted that 79% of participants who reported an episode of migraine experienced a hangover.

If you’ve ever had the experience of a hangover the day after drinking alcohol, a migraine hangover may feel similar to you.

Symptoms of a migraine hangover may include:

  • bodily aches and pains
  • changes in your moods (for example, going from low mood to euphoria)
  • fatigue
  • feeling drained
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • tenderness in the scalp and other spots on your head
  • tightness around your neck and shoulders
  • trouble concentrating
  • all-around weakness

Research suggests that a migraine hangover is caused by reduced blood flow to your brain.

In one study, 81% of participants reported a non-headache symptom during the postdrome phase.

Should you go to work the day after a migraine?

A migraine, and the subsequent hangover, will feel different for everyone. So, this might be a personal decision. There are no risks attached to working after a migraine.

But, you may find that your hangover symptoms are just as debilitating as the headache phase, as research suggests.

In that case, you may find it helpful to reach out to your health team for a note to excuse you from work and take an extra day (or two) off, if at all possible.

If you do decide to get some work done, try to take it easy on yourself.

Also, consider letting your team know what’s going on, as the symptoms of a migraine hangover can have a direct impact on your ability to focus, which may impact your productivity.

How long a migraine postdrome last may be different for everyone. Typically, it lasts up to 48 hours.

One older study found that for 54% of study participants, the postdrome phase was over within 6 hours of the headache pain going away.

By the 24-hour mark, 93% of study participants were back to their usual baseline.

Of all the migraine stages, the postdrome phase has been the least studied by experts. Little is known about potential treatment options for a migraine hangover, or what can help shorten it.

Research shows that the postdrome length doesn’t change with migraine medication or the severity of your migraine, so medication may not have a noticeable effect on a migraine hangover.

Still, it’s recommended to continue with your migraine treatment regime and let the symptoms run their course, while you take good care of yourself.

If your postdrome symptoms last longer than 2 days, consider following up with your primary care physician.

A word about prevention

A great way to prevent a migraine hangover is to try and curb a migraine altogether — as much as you can, of course.

To help prevent future episodes, you may find it helpful to keep a diary of your active headache days and migraine symptoms during a typical month. This can help you identify patterns, particularly related to food and stress, so you can help manage your symptoms and what causes them.

There’s no cure for migraine hangovers and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to manage them either, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

You may want to discuss with your health professional what treatment, or combination of treatments, may work best for your specific situation.

In terms of self-care, there are several strategies that may help. These include:

A migraine hangover is the last phase of an episode of migraine and may involve symptoms like aches and pains, fatigue, muscle tension, and difficulty focusing. It can last up to 48 hours.

The symptoms may resemble a hangover from alcohol consumption.

Since little is known about this migraine phase, there’s no specific treatment to help resolve symptoms. It’s recommended to continue with your migraine treatment and take it easy on yourself until you feel better.

If your migraine hangover symptoms persist longer than 1 to 2 days after the main headache pain goes away, consider following up with your health team as soon as possible.