Disrupted sleep is more common in those who regularly suffer with migraines compared to those who do not, a new study suggests.

Children who frequently get migraines were also shown to have more interrupted sleep, but they were found to fall asleep faster.

Academics from the American Academy of Neurology examined whether “migraines cause poor sleep quality or whether poor sleep quality cause migraines”.

Main author Dr Jan Hoffman said: “We wanted to analyse recent research to get a clearer picture of how migraines affect people’s sleep patterns and the severity of their headaches.

“That way, clinicians can better support people with migraines and deliver more effective sleep treatments.”

More than 10,000 individuals took part in 32 different assessments, with each participant filling in a survey about their sleeping patterns.

Questions on the average time it takes to fall asleep, average sleep time per night and whether or not sleep aids are used were included in the survey.

According to the findings, people who are accustomed to experiencing migraines scored more points on the questionnaire, with higher results indicating poorer sleep quality. It also revealed that those who suffer with severe migraines experienced worse sleep.

The majority of the participants were also examined in a sleep laboratory during the night, which is mainly used to detect sleeping disorders. This analysis measured brain waves, oxygen rates in the blood, heart rate and eye activity.

Prior analysis has identified that those who suffer with migraines were found to have a lower amount of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep compared to those without migraines.
Sleeping during the REM stage is crucial for cognitive ability as it contains the most brain stimulation and increases the number of realistic dreams.

During the trial, the academics found that children who get regular migraines sleep for less but tend to fall asleep faster than children who do not get migraines.

“It’s possible children with migraines may fall asleep more quickly than their peers because they may be sleep deprived,” said Dr Hoffman.

She added: “Our analysis provides a clearer understanding of migraines and how they affect sleep patterns and illustrates the impact these patterns might have on a person’s ability to get a good night’s sleep.”

The Medical Research Council and the Migraine Trust in the UK assisted this study.
The study has been published in the online issue of the medical journal ‘Neurology’.

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