Does sleeping position matter?

Hi everyone,
I was wondering if any other people with MAV have found a sleeping position that minimizes their symptoms. I cannot be flat on the bed so I have tried various number of pillows. I even resorted to buying a bedrest online but that is really uncomfortable. I don’t have symptoms while I am in bed, but shortly after I get up I start to feel lightheaded and “off”. This takes a couple of hours to clear then I start to feel normal again. Any advice would be appreciated - Lisa

Personally, bed is THE ONLY place that I can lay on my back. That being said, about the only time I sleep on my back is when I have a cold. Usually I sleep on my side with a pillow that is just thick enough to lift my head up and keep it aligned with the rest of my spine.

Keeping your neck strait as possible is probably the most important part of sleep positioning. Too many pillows and you end up bending the heck out your neck and stretching the neck muscles, possibly knotting them up and causing all sorts of neck/head pain issues. Anything causing neck or head pain can cause anybody with migraine issues problems.

I sleep on my back propped up with three pillows, the top on is feather and I turn the corners in to stop my head rolling to one side or another. This has stopped me waking with full blown vertigo. I cannot lay on my side as when I turn onto my back there are problems.


I find that if I sleep with my head back. When I wake up the next day I will be very dizzy! I always sleep ‘propped up’ in bed as I feel this reduces my dizziness.

Well, a dark room tends to let me sleep better. Sex tends to let me sleep better. Eating enough, and intelligently, before bed tends to let me sleep better, and sometimes all the way through the night.

Better, and fuller sleep lets me do better the next day.

I dread trying to sleep. MAV has robbed me of sleeping well. I CANNOT lay flat on my back; I sleep propped up on two pillows, and mostly on my left side. Strangely, my BPPV used to be triggered by laying on my left, but it switched. I have had physical therapy for BPPV, and they determined I have both sides affected. Though, my BPPV is not my problem these days; it’s 24/7 MAV. Some nights I sleep sitting up, on my couch, with pillows propping my head up. When I first lay down at night, I feel unsettled-- kinda like I’ve had too much to drink-- then it calms down, and I don’t move too much or it stirs up the “icky” feeling. I rarely sleep through the night, and sometimes I dream that I’m spinning and wake up sweating and nauseated. I hate my life now; it’s very difficult to find peace with this. I hike on the weekends, for hours, which helps my mood. And I ride my bike as often as weather permits. Exercise keeps me sane.

Have the same issue with sleeping positions and some nights it can even set off vertigo. One night the vertigo was so easy to set off and on I could lie and raise my head and it would literally start then stop. Often have had vertigo in morning. So annoying - used to love that feeling when you get in bed tired and can simply burrow into the pillow at any angle you like.

Do you ever feel fullness or fluid in your ear in the morning?

I’m working on the assumption MAV is actually secondary hydrops. If that’s the case then controlling salt and eating lots of diuretic vegetables and fruit should help. Also sweating during exercise should help get rid of excess salt. Also maybe sauna? Also consider drinking lots and lots of water. Don’t go to sleep too soon after dinner, wait for tinnitus to die down.

I have to sleep at a 45 degree angle on two , not firm, pillows. I put the top one slightly back so my neck is not at a sharp angle. I usually sleep on my left side - that’s the ear without the problems. When I get ear fullness, I usually blame it on exercise (I get it most after a day of 10,000 steps) and least when I do not exercise. Also, I get ear fullness and balance issues when I go off the diets (migraine plus histamine diets) too much, like eating eight cashews or something made with a lot of canned tomato sauce or tomato paste. I can wake up with the ear fullness and sometimes I feel “dripping” in my ear. As soon as I adhere to the diets, I am much better. But if I really overdo then it gets scary - vertigo returns. Diet, activity level and too much talking in noisy places all can trigger problems. My problems with sleeping result from these other triggers. The laying down for sleeping problem is the result, not the cause. (

I am so relieved to have found; I felt–and still feel–so alone. How do you describe your symptoms to people, and not feel like they think you’re crazy? I worry that my saintly husband will tire of it all. I work very hard at being “normal.” I hold down a full time job, and often struggle through the day; or maybe the struggle lasts just an hour or two. Some days are better than others-- I can’t pinpoint what makes things worse, aside from obvious things like; lack of sleep, alcohol, too much motion, etc. Sometimes the simple action of shaking my head to say “no” will trigger a spinning sensation. The sleep thing is a big issue for me; I truly long for my normal self. I find myself watching TV or a movie, and watching the character flop down on a bed, and I think, “I can’t do that anymore.” I keep hoping for a miracle.

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It took over 2 years of me being on Topamax to being able to sleep flat on my back. The entire time my MAV was at its worst I slept propped up against the headboard of my bed. Now the Topamax has given me acid reflux so I am back to being propped again!

I got MAV in May 2010 and I had a very severe case. I guess you could say that I am largely functioning normally due to 225mg of Topamax daily and 0.25 Clonazepam for bad moments. I wouldn’t consider myself perfectly “normal” - not the way I ever was before 2010, If I have too much caffeine, drink alcohol, have too little sleep the dizziness will creep back in. It is all about having balance in life. People that never had MAV would not understand this.

I feel you. My best sleep is propped up on the sofa. I think because it curbs flip flopoing at night. MAV has curbed sleep, enjoyment of massage (flat up or down is not good), gardening bc of head down position, etc. I actually got on here tonight to look up sleep positions bc I am either uncomfortable af or spinning. Your experience is the same as mine and I know I am just jacking up my neck…

A slight sleep wedge with thin pillow on top is my best bed solution…but far from perfect.

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@Kelly_Livesay even with my MAV under some level of control with Topamax I still have trouble with sleeping position after all these years. I first got MAV in 2010 and I could not put my head flat on the bed because I felt like I was on an amusement park ride. Now it is 2018 and I am still propped up in bed against the headboard with multiple pillows. Being flat can still be a trigger for dizziness - not to the same magnitude but the possibility is there. Also, having my head down for extended periods (like gardening) is off limits because it makes me feel drunk. - Lisa

I do reccomend the narrow wedge. I started with lots of pillows and gradually reduced to 1-2. STILL better on sofa but this doesn’t crank my neck. Let me know and I will look up Amazon link.

May I ask how old you are?

I did order a wedge from Amazon last year but I did not adjust to it so I went back to my pillows. I am used to sleeping like that. I will turn 39 this year.

I use the wedge from amazon with a thin pillow on the top of the wedge. My neck once it gets into a pain mode i switch to good old fashioned two pillows. So i do alternate between both the methods. Lying flat is a trigger for me. It was better when i used to do Yoga even after VM where there was a lot of lying flat.

Any issues in yoga with head down positions, i.e. downward dog? As soon as I had my 2nd major vertigo episode I stopped going.

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It is really clear to me that head pressure has a direct impact on MAV sufferers. The higher your head pressure (CSF) the worse your symptoms will be. I personally conclude that this is because MAV is a really at its heart a case of inner ear Hydrops (with many neurological knock on effects). I’ve argued this at length elsewhere and is controversial.

Until you get MAV under control, I would not recommend any exercise that increased your head pressure. Running may be fine but nothing which would put your head below your waist. Even lying down flat is likely to worsen symptoms.

Lying flat is a trigger and many folks have this trigger even after many years of MAV getting better. I have stuck with running alone and skipped yoga for the moment.

@Kelly_Livesay , lying down to sleep and inversions, like downward dog/ child poseb, are bringing on dizziness now. I JUST got in the routine of doing virtual yoga 2x a week to help me recover my strength from an injury/ surgery over the summer, but I’m grateful i can still do poses besides inversions.

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