In patients with episodic migraines, the occurrence of a migraine headache does not appear to shorten sleep duration, increase sleep disruption, or degrade sleep quality consistently, a study in Sleep suggests.

A total of 98 patients with episodic migraine (mean age, 35.1 ± 12.1 years old) from 3 academic centers in Boston were included in this prospective cohort study. The participants completed the Consensus Sleep diary every morning which assessed sleep timing, quality, awakenings, and medications use. Actigraphy was also used to measure sleep duration objectively. Questionnaires were used to collect data on sleep quality, depression, stress, and migraine-related quality of life. The sleep portion of the study was performed over a 6-week period.

The cohort reported a mean of 5 migraine headaches per month. Over a 4406-day period, there were 1077 headache days in these patients, which represented 823 individual headaches. On average, the nightly objective sleep duration was 7.3 ± 1.2 hours, whereas sleep efficiency was 89.5 ± 3.3% and wake after sleep onset (WASO) was 44.8 ± 17.0 minutes.

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Objective sleep duration based on actigraphy was 7.3 minutes longer (95% CI, 1.5-13.0) during nights immediately following a headache day vs a night on a headache-free day. There was no difference between headache days vs headache-free days in terms of objective sleep efficiency (-0.06%; 95% CI -0.3-0.2), WASO (1.5 min; 95% CI, 0.0-3.0), and reported sleep quality (1.0; 95% CI, 0.8-1.3).

A limitation of the study includes the potential lack of generalizability, since the population consisted mostly of white premenopausal women with normal sleep habits and a modest number of reported sleep disturbances.

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These findings suggest “that among patients with episodic migraine, evaluation and treatment of insomnia symptoms should be approached independently of their migraine status,” the investigators wrote.

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Vgontzas A, Li W, Mostofsky E, et al. Associations between migraine attacks and nightly sleep characteristics among adults with episodic migraine: a prospective cohort study [published online January 13, 2020]. Sleep. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsaa001

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor