Sleep disorders and chronic craniofacial pain: Characteristics and management possibilities

Sleep Med Rev. 2017 Jun;33:39-50. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2016.04.005. Epub 2016 May 11.


Chronic craniofacial pain involves the head, face and oral cavity and is associated with significant morbidity and high levels of health care utilization. A bidirectional relationship is suggested in the literature for poor sleep and pain, and craniofacial pain and sleep are reciprocally related. We review this relationship and discuss management options. Part I reviews the relationship between pain and sleep disorders in the context of four diagnostic categories of chronic craniofacial pain: 1) primary headaches: migraines, tension-type headache (TTH), trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias (TACs) and hypnic headache, 2) secondary headaches: sleep apnea headache, 3) temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and 4) painful cranial neuropathies: trigeminal neuralgia, post-herpetic trigeminal neuropathy, painful post-traumatic trigeminal neuropathy (PTTN) and burning mouth syndrome (BMS). Part II discusses the management of patients with chronic craniofacial pain and sleep disorders addressing the factors that modulate the pain experience as well as sleep disorders and including both non-pharmacological and pharmacological modalities.

Keywords: Craniofacial pain; Headache; Pain; Sleep; Sleep disorders; Sleep medicine; Sleep quality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain
  • Disease Management
  • Facial Pain / physiopathology*
  • Facial Pain / therapy*
  • Headache Disorders, Primary / physiopathology
  • Headache Disorders, Primary / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy