Sleep in Headaches

  • Oliviero BruniEmail author


Headache and sleep have close relationships witnessed by the numerous comorbidities that are mediated by the structural co-alteration of the serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways. However, the link between sleep and headache or migraine is complex and cannot simply be explained by the common alterations of neurotransmitters. The precise nature and magnitude of the headache/sleep association and underlying mechanisms still remain poorly understood.

Sleep represents the behavioral state related to the occurrence of some headache syndromes, and sleep disorders are observed among all headache subgroups. On the other hand, headache may cause various degrees of sleep disruption.

Sleep deprivation and sleep schedule changes are common headache triggers: an excess or lack of sleep or a bad quality or inadequate duration of sleep may cause headache. Many chronic headache patients may complain of insufficient sleep, lack of restoration in the morning, and severe snoring.

Several sleep disorders such as insomnia, parasomnia (sleepwalking, sleep terror, enuresis), restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movements, and narcolepsy have frequently been reported in patients with headache.

Finally, it is known that the treatment of a sleep disorder can resolve or improve the headache and on the other hand the drugs used for the prophylaxis of migraine or headache could improve sleep.


Sleep Insomnia Restless legs syndrome Parasomnias Narcolepsy Migraine Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome Circadian rhythm disorders 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Social PsychologyS. Andrea Hospital – Sapienza UniversityRomeItaly

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