Sleep deprivation and auras


I forgot to sleep. As in I had a wicked as all hell midnight migraine and, yeah, that wasn’t exactly productive for sleepy, sleepy time. So I didn’t sleep. I finally got up and took a triptan. Which is not working. At this point, I can say did not work at all.

There are times when I do not sleep I get auras that are particular in nature. One is when I move my arm I will see several arms in translucent blue after that arm. I know there is a word for this, but, since I am sleep deprived I cannot remember what it is. The second, which was today, is far worse. The whole world duplicates. That is when I move my eyes, the world I had seen echoes over the world I now see. I think it is called ghosting, for this ghost image that is overlayed over reality. But it is literally every movement of your eyes. So… echo, echo, echo, echo. You can imagine, this is very disorientating. This one just happens from time to time but happens more often when I am sleep deprived. It is common in people with Visual Snow, which I have, so no idea if this is an ‘aura’ due to the wicked migraine or I aggravated the VS due to lack of sleep. The other one I mentioned, also can happen with VS. VS can occur with a lot of distortions all its own, besides the constant visual static. I often assume a lot of things are just that due to the fact it is a constant visual phenomenon that is neurological. While migraine auras, I assume are more specific visual types; or auditory, olfactory and tactile of course.

Here is some info on Visual snow by the way. I mention it because if you have a lot of visual distortions and migraines, they are highly comorbid conditions. 50% of people with VS have migraines. And “Persisting visual snow can feature as a leading addition to a migraine complication called persistent aura without infarction,[5] commonly referred to as persistent migraine aura (PMA). It is important to keep in mind that there exist many clinical sub-forms of migraine where headache may be absent and where the migraine aura may not take the typical form of the zigzagged fortification spectrum, but manifests with a large variety of focal neurological symptoms.” In my case, I had VS when I was younger and developed PMA in my mid 20’s. Relatively soon after the migraines themselves developed actually. The VS also got worse. But not nearly as bad as some people. However, I find I am able to just tolerate it well. I mean with PMA I get so much visual intrustions as is, I sort of am ambivalent to it all. Obviously, sometimes they are intrusive and problematic, but at the same time, you just have to ride them out. Other times, you can just ignore it as best you can. Anyway, with VS, lack of sleep has always seemed to make it worse for me. Even the static becomes thick and almost tangible.

The aura I had before bed, was not VS but an actual migraine aura of the tactile variety. It was this annoying tingling sensation on the top of my head. That would spread every so often. And also with a strange pulling sensation, like my head was morphing. Lasted quite some time. I tried to ignore it because I didn’t Plan on taking a triptan today. Such is life. Triptan at the beginning of the week. What a waste. I also had a visual aura of an arch of warping pixels of light; scintillations. But, that is my persistent migraine aura… it is there for the majority of the time and no real indication of a migraine. A tactile aura, on the other hand, is.


Auditory Hallucinations

“People have reported hearing music, distant conversations, the sound of footsteps and more.”19 less often discussed migraine aura symptoms

Auditory hallucinations (paracusias) can occur with migraine with aura. Most common though in children. One study found the prevalence was high with depression. “We encountered 12 patients (our center = 5, literature = 7), 58% were female, and 75% had typical migraine aura. Hallucinations most commonly featured voices (58%), 75% experienced them during headache, and the duration was most often <1 hour (67%). No patients described visual aura evolving to paracusias. Most patients (50%) had either a current or previous psychiatric disorder, most commonly depression (67%). The course of headache and paracusias were universally congruent, including improvement with headache prophylaxis (58%).PubMed

I have in my life had some bizarre auditory phenomena all of which occurs in twilight sleep. So hypnagogic state sleep phenomena like hearing my name called, hearing people talking in the background, sleep paralysis and all its weird hallucinations. These all test our sense of the real vs not real because we don’t Feel asleep. And a lot of ghost stories I have heard start with I couldn’t move and there was something staring at me… and to me what jumps out was that they had sleep paralysis.

Well what if you have migraines? Well I have what seemed like a great ghost story last night and it was freaky. All I can think is that it was an auditory hallucination. Being I fit the criteria of also having depression I suppose that fits as well, and it was voices I heard.

What happened was I was on the computer writing. Then my computer speakers started going in and out. Click, crackle, click, crackle. Or I assumed it was them since nothing else around to make such a noise. Then in-between the crackles came the sound of two children laughing. I put my face closer to the speaker to see if that is where the sound was in fact coming from but it just stopped. And that was Really Trippy.

Was that a ghost you saw_Or a migraine aura_You'll never know.....png

I do believe in the Possibility of ghosts, but I believe a lot of experiences can be attributed to sleep phenomena. When my brother passed my mother and I received phone calls. My mom got calls saying they were from him with no one on the line. I received calls with no number at all, phone just rang, with no one on the line. For a couple of days. So that sort of thing, I couldn’t explain and it was comforting to be honest.

So yes I believe in the possibility. But I have migraines. And migraines mess with our perception of reality all the time. All the time. For the last three weeks I have been smelling cooking in the house before I have cooked a thing… so olfactory auras can mess with us too. I once looked all over the house for a foul smell one.

So was it a ghost? An aura? Who knows. I can say this. I said ‘If you are here, flicker that light right there’ and pointed to the lamp in the room. And that damn lamp when bzzt and flickered really strongly. Coincidence? I rather hope so.

It was a weird night. And when you look at it from a migraine perspective auditory migraine hallucinations themselves are one of the weird ones anyway. No matter what happened… it was weird.




Oh the bells! Tinnitus hells bells that is


Tinnitus is a migraine thing. It is an insane horrible migraine thing. I have intractable daily chronic migraines with aura. Which means tinnitus is in that aura section of the experience I can have. Also I have vestibular migraines (used to be called migraine associated vertigo) which also has tinnitus. You can read about it here from However, I also have TMJ and fibromyalgia… so tinnitus is a constant thing for me.

It is constant. But it also gets louder and changes pitch with a migraine. Insanely loud. And my hearing can get muffled or I can lose my hearing. All of which can and does occur with migraines in the aura phase. Lost my hearing for a week recently on one side and the tinnitus was so loud it was driving me batty. That sound can drive anyone insane. The pain. The noise. It is like a way to torture someone.

I listen to the radio at night, all night, because I have profound insomnia and I cannot stand listening to the tinnitus in the silence. Even when it is at its mildest, in silence it drives me mad.

Here is the thing, nothing seems to help with it. By the way, I have a treatment I read in a study for noise induced tinnitus. So if you worked in a loud job for a long time and it gave you tinnitus. The research looked into melatonin for it. I recommended my step-father try it for his noise induced tinnitus and it indeed does work.

For ours though the one thing I have found suggested is Gingko biloba due to blood flow and circulation issues. I tried it and it seemed to have a dimming effect on my permanent tinnitus but not so much the migraine aura tinnitus. Another recommended one is zinc and B12, I have not tried that route. I take a lot of B12 but have slacked on it recently because supplements are expensive to be honest. However I have some now so many I can tame this beast with that.

It is like adding insult to injury having that with a migraine and all the damn other symptoms we have to deal with. Pain, in your head, that you cannot ignore or function through. And a sound you cannot stop hearing… and the most annoying sound in the world.

I had a friend with horrible tinnitus ask me once what migraines were like after we complained about the ears for a bit. And I said imagine that tinnitus ringing noise louder and filling your whole brain, my imagine every time it pulsed it hurt instead, pulsing with the sound there would be this immense pain. Throbbing, pulsing, stabbing. I don’t know if it helped her imagine the pain part but it made sense to me at the time.

All I know is that lately I cannot escape the high pain levels, the persistent damn nausea and this all consuming fatigue. The tinnitus is the cherry on top of this craptastic two weeks.

Migraine: Aura stage 2


I see I have a type it is Stage 2, not 1.

The aura is the flashy portion of the migraine. Often people without migraines think we all get but in fact only about 25% do. Of those who actually do experience migraines with aura, they themselves do not necessarily get a migraine with every attack… it is around 20%. Some of us get only the aura for an attack and this is a silent migraine. I have had a few of these myself.

Tactile auras- like numbness, tingling


Allodynia: is one of the worst symptoms that can occur in this stage. It is hypersensitivity to touch in a fiery nerve pain sense. Very common for people with migraines to get it in the scalp but can in fact occur anywhere. I get it severely on the back and clothes touching my skin is hellish pain.

Visual hallucinations, auditory hallucinations, olfactory hallucinations- all the weirdness of migraines.


Dizziness and vertigo- both of these can get pretty nasty. And vertigo can make you feel very disorientated. Not to mention cause drop attacks; where you think the ground is there but you brain says ‘nope’ so you feel you are falling and do, or over compensate and fall the other way to recover.


Tinnitus is a EeeEeeeeEeeeing nightmare. It gets pretty high pitched with a migraine. Then your hearing goes out or goes muffled in one ear and All you hear is that ringing.


HM migraines have their paralysis symptoms and stroke like effects.

Here is a short visual representation of an aura that typically lasts 60 minutes


Visual auras can be:

  • Scotoma; the area of decreased or lost vision.
  • Phosphenes; brief flashes of light.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Wavy lines: like seen through a heat wave
  • Scintillations
  • Other visual symptoms


  • numbness or tingling
  • pins and needles
  • weakness on one side of the body
  • dizziness
  • Vertigo

What is the cause?

The scientific term cortical spreading depression (CSD) describes a local disturbance of the brain function that is characterised by a transient and local suppression (depression) of the spontaneous electrical activity in thecortex (cortical) that moves slowly across this brain region (spreading). Aristides A.P. Leão, a Brazilian studying for a PhD at Harvard University was the first to describe this phenomenon in 1944 (Figure 1). He made this discovery while studying epilepsy. One year later, a better characterisation of CSD, especially of its progression, allowed Leão and his colleague R.S. Morison to propose, for the first time, that the malfunction of cortical nerve cells suspected to cause the aura might well be CSD. Indeed, both the suspected nervous malfunction and CSD shared surprisingly many common properties.Migraine Trust

Criteria for migraine with aura:

  • A. At least 2 attacks fulfilling criteria B–D.
  • B. Aura consisting of at least one of the following, but no motor weakness*:
  • 1.Fully reversible visual symptoms including positive features (e.g., flickering lights, spots or lines) and/or negative features (i.e., loss of vision).
  • 2. Fully reversible sensory symptoms including positive features (i.e., pins and needles) and/or negative features (i.e., numbness).
  • 3. Fully reversible dysphasic speech disturbance.
  • C. At least two of the following:
  • 1. Homonymous visual symptoms1 and/or unilateral sensory symptoms.
  • 2. At least one aura symptom develops gradually over ≥5 minutes and/or different aura symptoms occur in succession over ≥5 minutes.
  • 3. Each symptom lasts ≥5 and D. Headache fulfilling criteria B–D for 1.1 Migraine without aura begins during the aura or follows aura within 60 minutes.
  • E. Not attributed to another disorder.

Persistent Migraine Aura Without Infarction (PAWOI)


Shortly after I began to get migraine auras in my early 20’s my auras became prolonged and diverse. My most common persistent migraine aura is a mass of scintillation, or multi-colored sparkles that arch over both sides of my vision in the upper field and sometimes pulsing down in a open and closing fist sort of motion. I say most common because this is daily. However  I get a varied amount of visual auras that are persistent. My other auras, tactile and such are prior to the migraine itself. I will get flashing lights, scintillation scotomas, vortex like effects, warping illusions of lines and patterns, that heat wave wave effect. Other things like halos, starbursts, ghosting and trailers I also have but I attribute to the fact I have a rare neurological condition called visual snow… that not so long ago was once considered a migraine persistent aura in itself but recent research has discovered it is a disease in itself as well as the location in the brain that is malfunctioning. But that is an aside, for those that may also have that (causing vision to be ‘staticy’). Now, I don’t believe that research is well spread because some neuros still refer to this as a persistent migraine aura. And in fact 50% of people with visual snow have migraines, so there may be some sort of link between the two. There simply isn’t that much know about PAWOI to know what is actually going on. If in fact they were looking at two distinct entities all along, that might explain some of the complications with research. Both being rare as is and subjects with VS being in the PAWOI study. But one can have both. I do wonder if VS makes one more sensitive to the aura phenomena or vice versa. However, I do know I developed VS around the age of 12 and PPAWOI around 25.

Generally speaking, typically, with PAWOI the research suggests it is the same aura on repeat. Like my multi-colored light show. Yet in my case and other people I have met we have variety in our mix up. Other auras are in there. Like the fellow who originally name PAWOI stated one ‘type’ was those who had oscillation, scotoma, and fortification in one hemifield persisting and the second ‘type’ was those that had intermittent scotoma or oscillating lights as as well as visual snow. Well I would be oscillating lights visual snow type with other auras tossed in the mix, so really there is no ‘type’ for this phenomena. I do know it is all visual. Any non-visual aura comes prior to a migraine and is my only migraine pending doom alert system. But it can be hard to say, since I have had numbness and tingling last for 4 to 5 hours. I believe I read one study that said that is in the realm of normal though.

Continue reading “Persistent Migraine Aura Without Infarction (PAWOI)”

Corona aura… the aura that looks like an aura

I have occasionally mentioned this aura and it is rare enough that it is an odd one but I suspect more people get it. “The visual illusion of a typical corona phenomenon was represented as a visual migraine aura symptom. The extra edges of the corona phenomenon are commonly seen around the perceptual images of objects. The corona phenomenon is strongly associated with visual loss and the presence of elementary geometric illusions. It is surrounding a person\’s head, shoulders, hands, or body. Illusory splitting can be differentiated from the fragmentation of visual images and from the geometric illusion or mosaic illusion.” Polish Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery I think what is particularly odd about my case, and perhaps what made it difficult to link to migraines at all until I was older, is that I began to get this at around the age of 12 but you’d have to confirm when I first mentioned it to family. It was there abouts. And it didn’t occur with headaches. Prior to them. Linked to them. It was… a phenomena that was very common. Like a persistent migraine aura.

So unlike most people it was pretty consistent. It was generally white, but not always. It surrounded people and animals and even the tips of leaves. It is moved with them as though attached to them, which is why it is often mistaken for a mystical sort of aura. It in fact has a history of speculation it is what created the idea of seeing mystical auras, halos and so forth. It extended about an inch or two out of the body of a person. At the head though there was this flame of white there and when they moved the flame sort of trailed after them and then settled back. When I got a bit older I had some visual distortions with more color lights over peoples face and so forth. No geometric designs though. As far as an aura went it remained the same up until the point I got migraines with aura and then the corona aura began to get distorted. I had afterimages. And trailers. Harder to perceive the aura with that crap. I noticed coronas on larger objects. For a time though it was the only aura I had, already persistent before my first diagnosed migraine. So I do suspect ocular and silent migraines. I also suspect menstrual migraines.

They are not generally seen all the time like that. It is generally like any aura phenomena… it precedes a migraine. It can be an outline of any color around objects or people and it can also be around other hallucinations… such as the bottom picture a man with corona phenomena paints his corona around people, a bird and around a scotoma. While mine never came with geometrical aura visuals that is not a surprise since I very rarely get geometric patterns in the persistent migraine auras I get now. It is rare for that to occur.

It is speculated it has to due with the perception of contrast and how it is perceived with the back ground and object within the brain.

“The term corona phenomenon is indebted to the Latin noun corona, which means crown. It was introduced in or shortly before 1966 by the Danish neuroscientists Axel Klee (1933-1982?) and Rolf Willanger to denote a *visual illusion consisting of an extra edge perceived around objects. The phenomenon itself has been described before, however, andreferredtobysuchtermsas* halo, border, and shiny ring. The German ophthalmologist Christian Georg Theodor Ruete (18101867) has been credited with providing the first written account of a corona phenomenon avant la lettre in 1845. Corona phenomena typically present in the form of a single or a double contour. They can surround objects in whole or in part, can be executed in any type of colour, including black and white, and may take on a shining, silvery, or shimmering quality. They may occur in isolation, or in association with an incomplete loss of vision (i.e. a *scotoma), a * scintillating scotoma, or a complete * hemianopia. In addition, they may be accompanied by * geometric hallucinations. Atypical corona phenomena have been described as well, presenting in the form of multiple coloured edges, multiple waves and zigzag lines, coronas surrounding illusory images, or combinations of corona phenomena and other illusory or hallucinatory phenomena such as *mosaic vision, *autoscopy, *polyopia, *teleopsia, and *micropsia. Etiologically, corona phenomena are associated primarily with * migraine aura and with * sensory deprivation. Their pathophysiology is basically unknown, but it has been suggested that they may be mediated by CNS structures involved in visual contrast perception.”Academic

A little humour

This made me chuckle when I saw it. Course it is just as elusive for neurological visual phenomenon… can’t imagine an eye exam for that either. 
Less snowy or more snowy? 
More sparkles or less sparkles? 
Oh you just had a religious experience? Wrong slide. 
Now you’re seeing dead people? Drat.

5 Basic things I tell people about migraines

People ask me about migraines all the time and the information they have is very limited. So here is my post about my migraines. 5 things about my migraines.

1) It is not just a headache: still get a lot of people thinking it is just a bad headache when in fact it is a neurological disease. When you have an attack, the headache might not even be a part of it as is the case with a Silent migraine.

2) They have stages. The migraine attack comes in four stages: the prodrome, aura, headache and postdrome. These stages are flexible since some stages last longer than other. They are variable, as in sometimes you have no headache. With the aura, only migraine with aura gets that stage and not with every migraine.

3)Auras are not all visual: Auras can be tactile like feeling numbness or tingling anywhere on the body. You can have aphasia, causing problems with communication; written or verbal. You can have vertigo. And yes, also the light show.

4) Migraines can be daily. Migraines over 15 a month are chronic and yes they can even be daily.

5) High Episodic migraines have the same impact on lives as Chronic migraines do.

And here is an image for a bonus:

The persistent migraine aura



Persistent Aura Without Infarction (PAWOI) is an elusive condition where the migraine aura with migraines persists for hours, days, weeks or even years in a small percentage of migraineurs.


“According to the International Headache Society, PAWOI is distinguished from normal migraines by having aura lasting longer than seven days [3]. Also, these symptoms must not be related to a stroke (an infarction), tumor, or any other structural alteration in brain tissue that can be seen from an MRI or CT scan. Furthermore, they should not be related to issues affecting the eyes themselves. Electroencephalogram (EEG) results, which directly measure cortical neural activity, should also be normal, which would suggest that the symptoms are not related to epilepsy [4]. Visual symptoms are often quite varied, and can include flashing lights, sensitivity to light, scintillating scotomas (depicted in the first image of this article), and geometric shapes [3, 5, 6]. Rarely, increased frequency and duration of afterimages, also known as palinopsia, and changes in the perception of the size of objects can occur [5]. Though these symptoms are distracting, they do not interfere significantly with the individual’s ability to see their environment. Some people with PAWOI experience non-visual symptoms as well, which include numbness, tingling, dizziness, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). These non-visual symptoms are also seen with regular migraine aura. PAWOI appears to affect men and women equally, and people of all different ages can experience these symptoms, from 11 year olds to 70 year olds [6, 7].” Triple Helix

My persistent migraine auras are quite varied, which is not always the case and was not the case in the beginning. I do get regular tinnitus, not sure if that is part of the deal. I get halos, starbursts, an array of pinprick colored lights warping in a field, pulsating lights, just pulsating air, trailers, more afterimages that stick around for longer durations, warping of the line of objects, perception of motion that is not there, photophobia and scintillating scotomas. A lot more varied visually that my before a migraine aura tends to be.

It is an interesting phenomena but not one that is well understood. At least not outside of the theory of what causes migraine auras as it is… so why they persist is not well understood at all. “the primary explanation for PAWOI is cortical spreading depression [3, 4, 7]. Cortical spreading depression involves a wave depolarization spreading across a region of the cortex, principally in the visual cortex of the occipital lobe, followed by an inhibitory wave. These waves are implicated in regular migraines with aura but it is believed that in people with PAWOI, these waves are sustained and repeated [7]. The brains of people with PAWOI may also be more susceptible to cortical spreading depression [4]. Furthermore, alterations in energy metabolism has been implicated, based on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans finding that blood flow changes often occur in the occipital lobe during migraine attacks that involve aura [4].  Generally, this involves a decrease in blood flow in the affected areas, like the occipital lobe of the brain [3]. Changes in magnesium levels, increased sensitivity of NMDA receptors to the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, and decreased activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA have also been suggested to be involved with the pathogenesis of PAWOI [4].” Triple Helix

Treatments tend to be along the lines of medications such as acetazolamide, valproate, lamotrigine, topiramate, and furosemide.

Visual snow has often been considered a form of persistent migraine aura. A “particular subtype of PAWOI, called visual snow, is a generally permanent form of PAWOI [9]. Those who suffer from this particular type of PAWOI have very specific and similar symptoms, which is why they are grouped together. Their main symptom, unsurprisingly, is visual snow, which involves flickering lights in their visual field that look like static on a television screen [8, 9]. Patients can also experience afterimages and trails, in which objects are “seen” even after the person is no longer focused on them, halos around lights especially at night, photosensitivity, and tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ears) [8, 9]. What distinguishes this subtype from other cases of PAWOI is that people who have not had migraines can develop this condition [8]. Even with these people, though, it is likely related to migraine, due to the presence of normal MRIs, CT scans, and ophthalmological exams, like in other PAWOI cases [9]” Triple Helix It is particularly difficult to treat with a low rate of success. Recent research has suggested it is in fact a separate condition called Visual Snow Syndrome, however, if so, 50% of sufferers have migraines which might have something to do with the are of the brain sited to be over-active or there might be another correlation. Either way, it has distinct features in that it remains constant. See ‘Visual snow’ – a disorder distinct from persistent migraine aura.

Some Cases history examples

Case of Luda et al. (1991): This 65-year-old woman developed “scintillating scotomas” in her right visual field without headache on May 3, 1990 and they were still present and unremitting when the authors reported her problem over 12 months later. The hallucination was described as “scintillating geometrical figures (in the shape of either rings or chains)…”

Patient 3 of Liu et al. (1995): On November 10, 1992, this 29-year-old woman “experienced sudden disorientation followed by stars filling the visual field of both eyes, followed by a diffuse, nonpulsating headache. When the headache ceased, she was left with “constant flashing lights and circles which were worse at night…” These visual symptoms resolved spontaneously in April 1993. Months later, she experienced “zig-zag” lines for 10 minutes followed by a pulsating headache. She also had brief attacks of unilateral paresthesias sometimes followed by headaches both before and after the persistent aura.

Patient 1 of Chen et al. (2001): This 45-year-old woman reported seeing an occasionally flickering coin-sized white spot in her left field of view for 3 months. It began “after” a migraine headache without aura. It prevented reading.

Patient 2 of Chen et al. (2001):This 24-year-old woman complained of seeing numerous stars persistently flickering in her right visual field for 3 years. At times they formed a single light. This phenomenon developed during a migraine attack. She had suffered migraines from childhood. A visual aura of of bright yellow flickering stars lasting 30-60 seconds had occurred during most of her migraine headaches.

Patient of Spierings (2002): This 41-year-old man with migraine with typical visual aura from childhood developed his typical aura while upset in October 1996. It was unusually vivid and was accompanied this time by tingling in his left upper limb for 30 minutes. This was followed by severe headache with photophobia, generalized weakness, and confusion. The visual disturbance never disappeared, but has persisted to the time of Spiering’s report. The patient sees things as though looking through a veil, and “bright-white, flickering, zigzag lines in the periphery of both visual fields” (his typical aura) come and go.

Continuous, strongly fluctuating variety
Patient 1 of Rothrock (1997): Two months before she was seen by the author, this 61-year-old woman experienced a particularly severe prolonged migraine with “jagged zigzags like crushed broken glass” to the left of a scotoma in her left visual field. This hallucination persisted after the headache ceased. It had been fluctuating in size, without disappearing entirely. In addition, she had developed similarly fluctuating but persistent numbness and tingling in the left face and lips