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Sleep Disorders, Particularly Insomnia, Impact Migraine Prevalence

Jaime Rosenberg
Researchers have found that sleep disorders, especially insomnia, can impact the prevalence of migraine.
Research continues to indicate that, in addition to genetic factors, daily behaviors can impact migraine prevalence. At the same time, there has been growing attention by providers on the impact of sleep, which is a risk factor for both physical and psychiatric health problems. Studying the relationship between the 2, researchers have found that sleep disorders, especially insomnia, can impact the prevalence of migraine.

As the burden of migraine continues to increase, understanding the impact of sleep disorders and other daily behaviors, as well as the reason behind them, can help providers try and mitigate these risk factors to improve outcomes for their patients.

According to the researchers of the study, the report of the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) has shown that that the prevalence of migraine has gradually increased from 488,733 in 2010 to 535,305 in 2016. Concurrently, its financial burden has increased from $23 million to $37 million.

“It is expected that various health problems will increase with these trends, and that proper management and methods to prevent migraines are needed,” they explained.

Using the NHIS National Sample Cohort 2002-2015, the researchers pulled data on 1,000,000 individuals randomly selected from the South Korean population in 2006. They identified 66,631 patients with sleep disorders and also included a matched cohort of patients without sleep disorders, resulting in 133,262 patients.

The researchers observed that 11.72% of patients were diagnosed with migraine during the study period and patients with sleep disorders were more frequently diagnosed with migraine compared with patients without sleep disorders (12.04% vs 11.39%). A survival analysis showed that sleep disorders positively correlated with diagnosis of migraine (HR 1.59; 95% CI, 1.54-1.64).

A sub-group analysis showed that the increasing risks of migraine for each type of sleeping disorder were greater in males than females, and higher age groups, as well as patients at a lower economic level, had greater effects from sleep disorders on the incidence of migraine.

“It seemed that patients with less access to healthcare were more greatly exposed to the risk of migraines after sleep disorders,” wrote the researchers.

Among subtypes of sleep disorders, insomnia was more closely associated with migraine compared with other types of sleep disorder or sleep apnea (insomnia HR 1.79; sleep apnea HR 1.25; other sleep disorders HR 1.66). According to the researchers, the lack of sleep duration could result in the loss of physical condition, not just the quality of sleep, and optimal alternatives are thus needed to ensure substantial sleep duration.


Kim S, Han K, Jang S, Yoo K, Kim S. The association between migraine and types of sleep disorder [published online November 26, 2018]. Int J Environ Res Public Health. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15122648.

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