Clinical

How do migraines affect the sleep cycle?

It’s possible that migraine sufferers, including adults and children, receive poorer quality REM sleep. On September 22, 2021, an American Academy of Neurology (AAN) publication released a meta-analysis in Neurology® that found this. Children who suffer from migraines not only slept less overall, but also took them longer to fall asleep than their healthy classmates. Sleep in which the eyes move rapidly back and forth is known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. It’s critical for things like learning and remembering. “Do migraines lead to bad sleep or do migraines lead to poor sleep?” author of the meta-analysis and member of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Jan Hoffmann of King’s College London. “We wanted to look at current studies to gain a better idea of how migraines influence sleep and headache intensity. Clinicians will be able to better assist migraine sufferers and provide better sleep solutions as a result of this.”

Researchers collected data from 32 trials involving a total of 10,243 individuals for the meta-analysis. To gauge how well they slept, participants filled out a questionnaire. The survey inquired about people’s sleep patterns, such as how long it takes them to fall asleep, how much time they spend sleeping overall, and whether or not they use sleep aids. Poor sleep quality is associated with higher scores. Many of the research studies required participants to spend the night in a sleep lab to help identify sleep-related health issues. Sleep studies track a variety of physiological data, such as brain waves, oxygen levels in the blood, heart rate, and even eye movements.

There was a modest difference in scores between individuals with migraines and those without migraines, according to the research, with those with migraines on average scoring higher. People experiencing migraines suffered a larger disparity. Researchers discovered that adults and children with migraines spent less time in REM sleep, as a proportion of total sleep duration, than healthy peers when looking at sleep studies. Researchers discovered that children with migraines slept less, woke up more, and had shorter sleep start times than children without migraines when looking at total sleep time. It’s conceivable, according to Hoffmann, that children with migraines sleep faster than their classmates because they aren’t getting enough sleep. For the first time, researchers have a better knowledge of migraines and how they influence sleep patterns, as well as the potential effect that this pattern may have on a person’s ability to sleep well. The meta-analysis found no link between sleep deprivation and migraines. Another shortcoming is that no consideration was given to sleep-related medicines in the meta-analysis. The Medical Research Council and the Migraine Trust in the United Kingdom funded the meta-analysis.

Journal Reference: Emily Charlotte Stanyer, Hannah Creeney, Alexander David Nesbitt, Philip Robert Robert Holland, Jan Hoffmann. Subjective Sleep Quality and Sleep Architecture in Patients With Migraine: A Meta-analysisNeurology, 2021; 10.1212/WNL.0000000000012701 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000012701

Categories: Clinical