According to findings published in the journal, Neurology, pediatric patients and adults with migraines may experience less quality, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep time than those who do not have migraines.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis to determine whether there are differences between adult and pediatric patients and healthy controls in subjective sleep quality, measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and objective sleep architecture, measured with polysomnography. The meta-analysis included 32 studies involving 10,243 individuals. Participants completed a questionnaire to rate their own sleep quality. The questionnaire inquired about sleep habits, including how long it takes to fall asleep, total sleep time, and the use of sleep aids. Higher scores indicate worse sleep quality.

For many of the studies, patients were sent to an overnight sleep laboratory to diagnose sleep disorders by recording brain waves and measuring blood oxygen level, heart rate, and eye movement. The scientists found that adults with migraines had higher average questionnaire scores than individuals without migraines, with a moderate amount of the difference due to the migraines. The difference was even greater in patients with chronic migraines. When researchers examined sleep studies, they discovered that adults and pediatric patients with migraines had less REM sleep as a percentage of their total sleep time than their healthy counterparts.

When assessing pediatric patients with migraines, the researchers found that they had less total sleep time, more wake time, and shorter time for sleep onset than pediatric patients without migraines. The researchers indicated that it is possible that pediatric patients with migraines may fall asleep more quickly than their peers because they may be sleep deprived.

The researchers noted that a limitation of the meta-analysis is that medications that affect sleep cycles were not taken into account. The researchers concluded that individuals with migraine have significantly poorer subjective sleep quality and altered sleep architecture compared with healthy individuals. They also noted that further longitudinal empirical studies are required to enhance the understanding of this relationship.

The lead author of the meta-analysis, Jan Hoffmann, MD, PhD, of King's College London in the United Kingdom and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, stated, "Do migraines cause poor sleep quality or does poor sleep quality cause migraines? We wanted to analyze 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."

Dr. Hoffmann also noted, "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."

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