A new study has linked migraines to a form of sleep disorder known as ‘advanced sleep phase’, a condition leading to a tendency to sleep and rise earlier than normal, with both conditions sharing a genetic link.
The study, performed by researchers in California, revealed that mice with a specific genetic mutation related to advanced sleep phase were more susceptible to the physiological effects of migraine triggers leading to pain and other symptoms including visual disturbances known as ‘aura’.
Lack of sleep or disrupted sleep patterns are a well-known trigger of migraines in those who are susceptible. Many migraine sufferers report that their sleep patterns can have a big impact on their likelihood of developing a migraine.
Many also report that sleep is the only way to get rid of a migraine attack.
Other known migraine triggers include stress and anxiety, tiredness, bad posture, travelling, skipping meals, eating certain food, drinks containing caffeine or alcohol, environmental triggers such as weather, temperature, bright lights or strong smells, and taking certain medications.
The findings of this study contribute to the wealth of research now surfacing that supports the classification of migraine as a brain disorder, which is reassuring for patients who can often experience difficulties in explaining their condition to family, friends and employers, who may find it difficult to understand their symptoms and the impact that recurrent migraines can have on their lives.
Further, uncovering more about a possible genetic basis for migraine may be a step towards more effective diagnosis and treatments.