Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sleepy and Headache Relationship

Pay attention to your sleeping habits and you'll lessen the odds and intensity of migraineheadaches, say researchers.

The idea sounds almost too simple, and headache specialists have long advised their patients to heed what they term "good sleep hygiene." But a study by a University of North Carolina sleep specialist provides some scientific evidence that good sleep habits can reduce the number of headaches and their severity.

Migraine sufferers who cleaned up their act reduced their headache frequency by 29% and their headache intensity by 40% compared with those who didn't change their sleep habits, Anne Calhoun, MD, reported at the 48th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society in Los Angeles.

Sleep complaints were common and associated with headache in a sizeable proportion of patients. Over half of migraineurs reported difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep at least occasionally. Many in this sample reported chronically shortened sleep patterns similar to that observed in persons with insomnia, with 38% of patients sleeping on average 6 hours per night.

Migraines were triggered by sleep disturbance in 50% of patients. "Awakening headaches" or headaches awakening them from sleep were reported by 71% of patients. Interestingly, sleep was also a common palliative agent for headache; 85% of migraineurs indicated that they chose to sleep or rest because of headache and 75% were forced to sleep or rest because of headache.

Patients with chronic migraine reported shorter nightly sleep times than those with episodic migraine, and were more likely to exhibit trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, sleep triggering headache, and choosing to sleep because of headache. Short sleepers (ie, average sleep period 6 hours) exhibited significantly more frequent and more severe headaches than individuals who slept longer and were more likely to exhibit morning headaches on awakening.

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