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Migraine Headaches and Sleep Disturbances in Children

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Objective.—The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of sleep disturbances in children with migraine headaches and to describe individual differences in sleep behaviors based on headache features (eg, frequency, duration, intensity).

Background.—A relationship between migraine headaches and sleep disturbances has been suggested in both children and adults, but there is a lack of research examining the relationship between specific headache features and the range of sleep behaviors in children.

Methods.—One hundred eighteen children, aged 2 to 12 years (mean, 9.1; standard deviation, 2.3) were evaluated for headaches at two pediatric neurology departments. Parents completed the Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire and a standardized questionnaire regarding headache characteristics.

Results.—Parents reported a high rate of sleep disturbances in children, including sleeping too little (42%), bruxism (29%), child co-sleeping with parents (25%), and snoring (23%). Children with migraine headaches experienced more sleep disturbances compared to published healthy control norms. After controlling for child demographics, we found that the frequency and duration of migraine headaches predicted specific sleep disturbances, including sleep anxiety, parasomnias, and bedtime resistance.

Conclusions.—Children with migraine headaches have a high prevalence of sleep disturbances. The direction of the relationship between headaches and sleep is unknown. Regardless, interventions targeting sleep habits may improve headache symptoms, and effective treatment of headaches in children may positively impact sleep.
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Keywords: children; headache; migraine; sleep

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Case Western Reserve University, Ohio. 2: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Ohio. 3: Cleveland and Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio.

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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