Sleep problems linked to migraines

In a study of approximately 90 children, Temple researchers found that children who suffer from migraines are more likely to suffer from a sleeping disorder than children who do not experience migraines.

“Clinically, children with migraines are more likely to take daily naps, disrupting their night time sleep,” said Dr. Martina Vandrame of Temple’s neurology department. “Sometimes they take a nap during the day to improve their headaches.”

All of the children within the study had sleep complaints, including snoring, trouble sleeping throughout the night and daytime sleepiness. Vandrame said these are the signs that parents should be aware of to see if their child suffers from a sleeping disorder.

According to U.S. News & World Report, 60 of the children studied experienced migraines, 11 suffered chronic daily headaches, six had tension headaches and 13 had non-specific headaches. Researchers used a polysomnogram to monitor the participants’ brain, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rhythm and breathing.

The study’s results showed that children with migraines are twice as likely to suffer from sleep apnea, a disorder that is caused by an obstruction of the upper airways, preventing a person from sleeping well. Upper airway resistance syndrome, a sleep disorder characterized by a resistance to breathing throughout sleep, was also found to be more common within children suffering from migraines.

The most important prevention from furthering a child’s suffering from migraines, researchers said, is for parents to be aware of their child’s sleep issues. Children are then typically sent to a neurologist, where multiple parameters are measured in order to study the child’s different sleep stages.

Dr. Vendrame said studying children over time would produce more effective results within the sleep study.

“Our next step will be to repeat the study in a sample of the general population,” Vendrame said. “It would be interesting to perform the study when the child has the headache.”

Children would need to be kept in the laboratory for five to six days, as researchers are unable to predict when the headaches will occur.

“This will also help to minimize the first night factor, meaning, children do not always sleep well in the first night of a new environment,” Vendrame said. “You can see how they sleep over multiple nights.”

Kylee Messner can be reached at


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