Young Women With Migraine Have More Sleep Issues, Study Says

August 27, 2020

In young college-age women, migraine was associated with several sleep issues, although no differences in sleep quality were reported between migraineurs and controls, according to a recent study.

In young college-age women, migraine was associated with several sleep alterations, although no differences in sleep quality were reported between migraineurs and controls, a study published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found.

The exact underlying cause of migraine is unknown; however, sleep disturbances are one of the most frequently reported potential triggers of the condition. Specifically, research has suggested “that both severe stress exposure and sleep disturbances might trigger the glial overactivation responsible for chronic pain processes.”

“Not only have a higher prevalence of insufficient sleep and severe sleep disturbances been observed among migraine patients,” authors wrote, “but also a higher frequency of migraine attacks has been reported in those who present short sleep duration and poor sleep quality due to sleep disorders such as snoring or sleep apnea.”

As both sleep disorders and migraine affect more women than men, researchers sought to analyze the quality of sleep in young adult women with migraine and compare findings with sleep quality in healthy young women. Investigators also analyzed the presence of sleep alterations in this population, and how they are related to the presence, frequency, intensity, and disability of migraine.

The cross-sectional study, conducted in Spain, included 51 female university students with physician-diagnosed migraine and 55 healthy controls. All participants completed a survey assessing demographic information and frequency, intensity, and disability of migraine and sleep quality variables. To assess sleep quality, participants completed the Spanish version of the Medical Outcomes Study Sleep Scale (MOS-SS), while the Spanish version of the Migraine Disability Assessment questionnaire was used to assess migraine frequency and intensity.

Analyses revealed:

  • 79.2% of the study population were classified as poor sleepers, while 80.4% of women migraineurs and 78.2% of healthy controls were considered poor sleepers
  • No differences in sleep quality were found between migraine subjects and healthy women (χ 2 = 0.079; P = .815)
  • Young women with migraines presented higher daytime somnolence, greater sleep disruptions, and decreased sleep adequacy compared with controls
  • Only sleep disruptions were related to migraine intensity, explaining 13.9% of the variance of the dependent variable (R2 adjusted = 0.139; P = .004)
  • Predictor variables related to the presence of migraine were daytime somnolence and sleep disruptions due to shortness of breath or a headache (19% of the variance of the dependent variable [R2 = 0.190; P < .001])
  • Predictor variables related to migraine-related disability were sleep disruptions due to shortness of breath or headache, snoring, and quantity of sleep (32.3% of the variance of the dependent variable [R2 adjusted = 0.323; P = .040])

Due to the subjective nature of the survey responses and the limited demographic and geographic characteristics of the population, results may not be generalizable, marking a limitation to the study. The cross-sectional nature of the study also precludes causal relationships from being drawn.

“In future studies, it will be interesting explore the possible sleep alterations in young women with migraines through an objective method such as polysomnography,” researchers concluded. “In addition, exploring the influence of other structures involved in migraine development, such as cervical or vestibular disfunction, on sleep disorders could help clinicians in the management of sleep alterations.”

Reference

Rodríguez-Almagro D, Achalandabaso-Ochoa A, Obrero-Gaitán E, et al. Sleep alterations in female college students with migraines. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Published online July 29, 2020. doi:10.3390/ijerph17155456