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Headache, sleep problems connected in children

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that frequent headaches in children appear to be associated with sleep problems. More than two-thirds of children studied who suffer from chronic daily headache also experience sleep disturbance, especially delay in sleep onset. For children with episodic headaches, one-fifth had sleep problems. The findings will be presented this week at the 24th Annual Conference on Sleep Disorders in Infancy and Childhood in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

"What's novel in our study is the finding that a high percentage of patients with headache have sleep disturbance," says Kenneth Mack, M.D., Ph.D., pediatric neurologist specializing in headache and the senior study investigator. "The number of patients who have headaches and also sleep disturbance surprised us. They also have the same sleep disturbance: a delay in sleep onset."

The researchers undertook this study to scientifically study their observation in the clinic that many children suffer from both headaches and sleep problems.

"We've continually seen that children with headaches are poor sleepers and that they're fatigued because they have poor sleep," says Dr. Mack. "We've known that when people don't get enough sleep they get more headaches, but we'd not appreciated the frequency of sleep disturbance with chronic daily headache."

The study involved a retrospective chart review of 100 children ages 6 to 17 with chronic daily headache -- headache present 15 or more days a month for three months or more -- and 100 children in the same age category with episodic headache -- headache that occurs with less frequency than chronic daily headache. In addition to sleep onset delay, sleep problems found in children studied included awakening during the night or too early in the morning, or not feeling refreshed after sleep.

The investigators do not yet know which problem comes first -- sleep problems or headache. In some children sleep problems come first,
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Contact: Lisa Lucier or Traci Klein
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
26-Jan-2006


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