How does migraine affect the sleep cycle?


Sleep Health | Sleep Review

Adults and children with migraines may have less good rapid eye movement (REM) sleep time than people who do not have migraines. That emerges from a meta-analysis published in the online edition of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, on September 22, 2021. It was also found that children with migraines had less total sleep time than their healthy peers, but took less time to fall asleep.

“Does migraine cause poor quality sleep or does poor sleep cause migraines?” Asks meta-analysis author Jan Hoffmann, MD, PhD, of King’s College London in the UK and a member of the American Academy of Neurology in a press release. “We wanted to analyze current research to get a clearer picture of how migraines affect people’s sleep patterns and the severity of their headaches. In this way, clinicians can better support people with migraines and perform more effective sleep treatments. “

For the meta-analysis, the researchers included 32 studies with 10,243 people. Participants completed a questionnaire to rate their own sleep quality. It asked about sleeping habits, including how long it took to fall asleep, total time asleep, and sleeping pill use. Higher values ​​indicate poorer sleep quality.

In many studies, people took part in a night sleep laboratory, which was used to diagnose sleep disorders. This sleep study records brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and eye movements.

The researchers found that adults with migraines had higher overall mean scores on the questionnaire than people without migraines, with the difference being only moderately due to the migraines. The difference was even greater in people with chronic migraines.

When researchers examined sleep studies, they found that adults and children with migraines had less REM sleep than their healthy counterparts.

When examining children with migraines, the researchers found that they had shorter total sleep time, more awake time, and a shorter time to sleep than children without migraines. Hoffmann says it is possible for children with migraines to fall asleep faster than their peers because of a lack of sleep.

“Our analysis provides a clearer understanding of migraines and how they affect sleep patterns and shows how these patterns can affect a person’s ability to sleep well,” says Hoffmann.

The meta-analysis shows no causal relationship between sleep and migraines.

One limitation of the meta-analysis is that drugs that affect the sleep cycle were not taken into account.

The meta-analysis was supported by the Medical Research Council and the Migraine Trust in the UK.

Photo 127549732 © Antonio Guillem |

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