Subjective Sleep Quality and Sleep Architecture in Patients With Migraine: A Meta-analysis

Neurology. 2021 Oct 19;97(16):e1620-e1631. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000012701. Epub 2021 Sep 22.


Background and objectives: Sleep disturbance is often associated with migraine. However, there is a paucity of research investigating objective and subjective measures of sleep in patients with migraine. This meta-analysis aims to determine whether there are differences in subjective sleep quality measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and objective sleep architecture measured using polysomnography (PSG) between adult and pediatric patients and healthy controls.

Methods: This review was preregistered on PROSPERO (CRD42020209325). A systematic search of 5 databases (Embase, MEDLINE, Global Health, APA PsycINFO, and APA PsycArticles, last searched on December 17, 2020) was conducted to find case-control studies that measured PSG or PSQI in patients with migraine. Pregnant participants and those with other headache disorders were excluded. Effect sizes (Hedges g) were entered into a random effects model meta-analysis. Study quality was evaluated with the Newcastle Ottawa Scale and publication bias with the Egger regression test.

Results: Thirty-two studies were eligible, of which 21 measured PSQI or Migraine Disability Assessment Test in adults, 6 measured PSG in adults, and 5 measured PSG in children. The overall mean study quality score was 5/9; this did not moderate any of the results and there was no risk of publication bias. Overall, adults with migraine had higher PSQI scores than healthy controls (g = 0.75, p < 0.001, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.54-0.96). This effect was larger in those with a chronic rather than episodic condition (g = 1.03, p < 0.001, 95% CI 0.37-1.01; g = 0.63, p < 0.001, 95% CI 0.38-0.88, respectively). For polysomnographic studies, adults and children with migraine displayed a lower percentage of rapid eye movement sleep (g = -0.22, p = 0.017, 95% CI -0.41 to -0.04; g = -0.71, p = 0.025, 95% CI -1.34 to -0.10, respectively) than controls. Pediatric patients displayed less total sleep time (g = -1.37, p = 0.039, 95% CI -2.66 to -0.10), more wake (g = 0.52, p < 0.001, 95% CI 0.08-0.79), and shorter sleep onset latency (g = -0.37, p < 0.001, 95% CI -0.54 to -0.21) than controls.

Discussion: People with migraine have significantly poorer subjective sleep quality and altered sleep architecture compared to healthy individuals. Further longitudinal empirical studies are required to enhance our understanding of this relationship.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology*