New Daily Persistent Headache Associated With Sleep Disturbances in Children

Pediatric patients with new daily persistent-headache experience more sleep disturbances than patients with migraine or tension-type headaches.

Pediatric patients with new daily persistent headache (NDPH) experience more sleep disturbances than children with migraine or tension-type headaches (TTHs), according to a study published in Headache.

Researchers examined the different rates of sleep disturbances in 527 pediatric patients (ages 7-17) with migraine (n=278), TTH (n=157), and NDPH (n=92). Patients in this study completed measures of anxiety, depression, and disability, and parents provided measures of their child’s sleep disturbance(s).

The investigators observed more sleep disturbances in patients diagnosed with NDPH (11.52±6.40, P <.001) or TTH (10.34±5.94, P =.002) vs migraine (8.31±5.89). Higher levels of pain were associated with more sleep disturbances in patients with TTH (correlation coefficient, r =0.23); however, the difference between groups was not significant.

A greater rate of sleep disturbances correlated with higher functional disability (rs ≥.16), depression (rs ≥.32), and anxiety (rs ≥.30). Investigators found that an NDPH diagnosis, higher disability, depression levels, and older age were predictors for sleep disturbances across the population (r2 =.25).

Considering that sleep disorders were reported by parents, this study may have potential inaccuracies with regard to patients’ actual rate of sleep-related disturbances. Most of the patients in this study were on medication, which the researchers suggest may have influenced the quality of sleep.

The investigators suggest that children with headache-related disorders and sleep disturbances should be educated “on nonpharmacologic lifestyle changes to improve sleep.”

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Rabner J, Kaczynski KJ, Simons LE, LeBel A. Pediatric headache and sleep disturbance: a comparison of diagnostic groups [published online October 17, 2017]. Headache. doi: 10.1111/head.13207