The relationship between chronic migraines, headaches and sleep disorders has been puzzling scientists for a very long time. Now another study suggests that a drug free migraine therapy might be found in sleep management treatments. Britain’s Migraine Trust suggests that sleep cycles are very sensitive, and that if something goes awry with your routines, such as staying up late or excessive sleep during the weekends, the body reacts to correct this interruption.
For example, a migraine attack might ensure that a sleep-deprived person takes the time to rest and even sleep off the migraine. Similarly, someone who oversleeps on certain days may develop migraines that disrupt sleep on the following nights. The theories attempting to explain this link are varied indeed.
This recent study was presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Headache Society, by researchers from the University of Mississippi. They assigned 16 chronic migraine and insomnia patients to behavioral sleep management sessions. These subjects were taught various techniques to restrict sleep and control stimuli. A second group of 15 subjects were administered a sham treatment of non-migraine related lifestyle modifications.
After patients received the sleep education sessions, the number of headache occurrences fell by 28 per cent on average, and by the follow-up 6 weeks later, that number fell an additional 21 per cent. The sham group outcome seemed to be more positive at first, with a 38 per cent decline in the frequency of headaches. But at the 6-week follow-up, a reversal in results yielded a 9 per cent rise in the average number of headaches. While the results were somewhat mixed and not entirely conclusive, the lead scientist indicated that the patients with the worst sleep issues actually benefited the most from these drug free migraine and sleep treatments.
He suggested that additional studies involving larger subject groups could provide more significant evidence that treating insomnia can also yield a drug free migraine benefit as well.