The research stems from experts wondering whether migraines cause poor sleep quality, or if subpar sleep leads to migraines.
“That way, clinicians can better support people with migraines and deliver more effective sleep treatments,” added Hoffman, a member of the American Academy of Neurology. Hoffman consults for, serves on advisory boards of and has received honoraria from multiple pharmaceutical companies, but these activities aren’t related to the submitted work, according to the authors.
Previously observed associations between sleep disturbances and migraines have been difficult for researchers to untangle, since alterations in sleep can be a trigger, treatment or symptom of migraines, the authors wrote.
“This study was an association study. It wasn’t a causative study, which is always going to have limitations,” said Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It would be nice to know what do they see in regards to the other sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea and other things.”
The studies included in the meta-analysis didn’t report whether migraine patients had experienced migraines during sleep itself, and six studies didn’t include an extra night for participants to adapt to the sleep lab, which can affect REM sleep. And the authors couldn’t totally account for potential mental health diagnoses or use of medications, both of which could influence sleep, according to the study.
But their research begins to provide “a clearer understanding of migraines and how they affect sleep patterns,” Hoffman said.
Underlying factors and tips for sleep and pain
Children with migraines who fell asleep faster than children without migraines might have done so because they might be sleep deprived, the authors said.
There are ways both adults and children can try to alleviate sleep-related migraine problems, or migraine-related sleep issues.
Advice for adults is similar. “Sleep may improve headaches,” Dasgupta said, so it’s “important to have the right quantity and quality of sleep. Remember that sleeping too much can also trigger headaches such as migraines.”