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HeadWay Issue #207 Migraine and Sleep: New Meta-Study
November 22, 2021

In this issue:

Migraine and Sleep: A New Meta-Study

Recent Articles at Headache and Migraine News

Say what?! REM Sleep

Migraine and Sleep: A New Meta-Study

Does migraine affect your sleep patterns? Or do sleep patterns affect migraine? Well, it's probably a mix of both.

This study didn't show cause-and-effect, but it did confirm yet again that migraine patients do sleep differently. Here are the basic results (we'll talk more about study methods in a moment):
  • People with migraine tended to have lower quality sleep than others.
  • People with chronic migraine had even worse sleep patterns than those with episodic migraine.
  • Migraine patients had less REM sleep than controls.
  • Children with migraine had less sleep time than non-migraine children, but they did tend to fall asleep faster (possibly because they were generally sleep-deprived).
Basic REM sleep and sleep patterns were measured by a polysomnography (PSG) (a general sleep study). General sleep quality was measured using a questionnaire called the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). (Remember, this was a study of various other studies, so methods varied.)

Let's Talk About It.

If migraine is taking away your sleep, we need to help you get more sleep. If interrupted sleep is triggering migraine attacks - well, you need better sleep. So either way, improving sleep is important.

The PSQI test is actually an interesting way to start thinking through your own sleep patterns. How many nights over the past week have you had to get up in the night? How long does it take you to fall asleep? Do you experience pain? Are you too hot?

You can see the PSQI questionnaire here - take a look, and discuss it with your doctor.

Time to Focus on Sleep?

Lack of sleep can lead to a lot of headaches, literally. If you're not waking up feeling "refreshed", this is certainly something you should investigate with your doctor.

But a lack of sleep can also affect your immune system, and even cause heart problems (there is some fascinating information on this from the CDC directed to nurses who are doing shift work).

You know some of the basics - make sure you're getting exercise during the day (check out A Sleep Apnea Mystery Solved?) , you're avoiding alcohol before bed, and that you're not staring at screens too late at night (this might help too). And for more general tips on sleep, go to Getting to Sleep with Migraine.

Recent Articles at Headache and Migraine News

First, a special thanks to those who donated to the Migraine Research Foundation last month! There's still time before year-end - just click here.

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