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Headaches – did you sleep well?
  1. K Palanivelu,
  2. E Wassmer
  1. Neurology, Birmingham Children's Hospital, Birmingham, UK


Headache is a common manifestation of pain in children. Headaches can be an indicator for a sleep disorders and sleep disturbance may trigger or exacerbate headache.1 2

Objective To evaluate the need for assessment of sleep disorders in management of headache in children.

Methods We have conducted survey on 55 children presenting with headache at tertiary neurology centre. We analysed sleep disturbances by using standard scoring tool, composite sleep index score for children and the epworth scale in parents.

Results The mean age of children studied was 12.6 years (range 6–16). 12 children had special educational needs. 30 children had symptoms for 2 to 5 years at the time of consultation. 16 children had headache at least once every day. 34 children were taking medicines for relief of headache. 24 children (43%) with headache had co-existent sleep disturbances. Sleep disorders included difficulty in falling asleep (n=21) and waking frequently (n=26). 8 children had a composite sleep index greater than 5 suggesting significantly disturbed sleep patterns. Four parents scored borderline on Epworth sleepiness score.

Conclusions Headache in children is associated with sleep disturbances (43%). Assessment of sleep in evaluating headache may contribute to headache management.

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