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Migraines in Children Linked to Poor Sleep

written by / September 29, 2021
Migraines in Children Linked to Poor Sleep

A new study shows that migraines and headaches are more likely to occur in children who suffer from sleep disorders than those who enjoy regular and undisturbed sleep.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, showed clear comorbidity between migraines and poor sleep in 143 participants aged 3–18 years with a median age of 12.4 years.

The results were based on the parents’ answers to two standardized questionnaires about their children’s sleep habits. Results detected sleep disorders (SD) in a staggering 72.9% of the children.

Not only were children with disordered sleep more likely to experience headaches and migraines than those without an SD, but the severity of their headaches was also more significant.

Even in adults, stats show that migraine sufferers are up to eight times more likely to develop an SD. Researchers explain this strong bi-directional correlation through three mechanisms:

  • Changes in serotonin production (regulates both pain tolerance and sleep)
  • Common risk factors
  • Matching neurological pathways

Young patients with sleep disturbances were shown to have a poorer response to acute migraine therapy, with only 54.9% reporting an effective symptomatic treatment in the study.

Early diagnosis is crucial for the treatment of most disorders, but this study confirmed that SDs are severely underdiagnosed in adolescent and pediatric populations. Even though 73% of the participants fulfilled the criteria for SD, only seven (5%) had a previous SD diagnosis. Most of these were sleep-onset delay and midnight waking.

If your child is frequently tired, irritated, and often sick, this should raise your SD alarm and make you seek professional help before migraines ensue.

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”

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