Background: Early observations by von Economo showed that the posterior part of the hypothalamus (PH) plays a prominent role in sleep-wake regulation. The PH is a candidate area involved in cluster headaches and other trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias (TACs) and is targeted for deep brain stimulation (DBS).
Case reports: Sleep studies in two men, 69- and 39-years-old, with pre-existing sleep disorders, before and after PH-DBS for pharamacoresistant cluster headache and SUNCT syndrome showed that PH-DBS led to a dramatic alteration of the patients' sleep patterns. This coincided with an improvement of the predominantly diurnal TACs, suggesting a PH-DBS-induced change in sleep patterns. Hypnograms after DBS demonstrated disrupted sleep and a prolonged period of wakefulness after midnight in both patients, which was reproduced the second night.
Conclusions: PH-DBS, a promising treatment for severe refractory TACs, affects sleep quality and pre-existing sleep disorders. This needs to be considered when treating patients with PH-DBS.
Keywords: DBS; Parasomnia; REM behavioural disorder; cluster headache; trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias.