Sleep Disorders and Headaches Connected – Children that
suffer Headaches might have Sleep Problems
January 29th 2006
headaches and sleep
Many children that suffer from daily chronic headaches also suffer from
sleep disturbances, especially a delay in sleep onset. Researchers at
the Mayo Clinic believe there may be an association. The findings will
be presented at the 24th Annual Conference on Sleep Disorders in Infancy
and Childhood in Rancho Mirage, California.
Kenneth Mack, MD, PhD, pediatric neurologist specializing in headache
and the senior study investigator said "What's novel in our study is the
finding that a high percentage of patients with headache have sleep
disturbance." One-fifth of the children with episodic headaches also
had sleep problems. The children “also have the same sleep disturbances:
a delay in sleep onset."
The study involved 100 children, ages 6 to 17 with chronic daily
headaches. The researchers consider a child with 15 or more headaches
per month as having chronic daily headaches. The study also included
100 children in the same age category with episodic headaches. These
headaches are less frequent. They found that teenagers had the highest
level of risk. Dr. Mack says that teenagers typically need about 9.5
hours of sleep per night.
The time of year and stress level also appear to impact headache risk.
A family history of headaches will also raise the risk in children.
Children that awaken during the night or too early in the morning are at
a higher risk. Many of these children do not feel refreshed after
It is not know whether the headaches cause the sleep disorder of vice
versa. They could also have a common cause, or one problem could be an
early sign of the other. According to Dr. Mack "They feed on each
other: sleep problems make the headaches worse, and the headaches make
the sleep problems worse."
The researchers believe the treatment must be simultaneous for both
conditions. The use of medicine and non-medicine approaches may be
needed. Key to the treatment is “attention to maintaining routine in
the child's schedule and developing good sleep hygiene. Dr. Lenora
Lehwald, M.D. says "Educating the patient and family on things like good
sleep habits may in and of itself help to improve the sleep quality and
thus the headaches in the long run."
Good sleep hygiene involves “basic and simple practices” in the evening
routine. "A child should use his bedroom for just the types of
activities that would be sedating and relaxing," she says. "TVs, video
games -- things that are exciting and get the child interested,
motivated and activated -- should not be in the bedroom. Also, it's
important for children to have a routine for calming down and preparing
for sleep the last hour they plan to be awake. They should choose
activities that make them drowsy, like reading."
Girls are more likely to have to have chronic daily headaches. Chronic
daily headaches occur in up to 4% of girls and 2% of boys. Episodic
headaches are believed to affect between 10 to 20% of all children. The
preferred medication is migraine medicine that also helps with sleep,
according to Dr. Mack.
Best Syndication Staff Writer
help you Sleep
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