Epidemiology of concurrent headache and sleep problems in Denmark

Cephalalgia. 2014 Sep;34(10):833-45. doi: 10.1177/0333102414543332. Epub 2014 Jul 30.


Aims: There are no previous epidemiologic studies on concurrent headache and sleep problems (HSP). This cross-sectional study aimed to determine the prevalence of HSP in Denmark, broadly characterize those with HSP, and examine associations between HSP and socioeconomic/lifestyle factors.

Methods: A total of 129,150 randomly selected individuals were invited to participate in the Danish National Health Survey 2010. Respondents were asked about headache, sleep problems, depression and anxiety in the last two weeks, health-related lifestyle and quality of life (SF-12). Socioeconomic data were retrieved from national registers. Prevalence proportions were adjusted for stratified sampling and non-response. Regression analyses examined associations between HSP and socioeconomic/lifestyle factors.

Results: Of 68,518 respondents, 16.3% reported only headache, 21.1% only sleep problems, and 18.1% HSP with 2.6% being severely affected. Prevalence was higher among women and the middle-aged. Severe HSP was associated with low socioeconomic position, non-Western ethnicity, unhealthy lifestyle, high stress and anxiety/depression. Those with HSP had substantially reduced quality of life; more so than those having only headache or only sleep problems.

Conclusions: HSP is a highly prevalent condition. Lifestyle modification, stress reduction, and screening for concurrent depression and anxiety may play important roles in management. The high prevalence of HSP suggests a common pathophysiological mechanism.

Keywords: Headache; epidemiology; lifestyle; prevalence; quality of life; sleep.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Headache / psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult