Migraine affects more than 1 billion people globally every year. Despite its widespread prevalence, it is underdiagnosed and undertreated. However, being able to predict when a migraine attack could come can help treat them preemptively. A new study has found patterns in sleep, energy, emotions, and stress that could be used to predict when a migraine could occur.
The study, conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health, US, found that poor perceived sleep quality and a lower than usual quality of sleep on the prior night can lead to a 22% and 18% increased risk of having a migraine the next morning, respectively. Furthermore, lower than usual energy level the previous day was also associated with a 17% increased chance of headache the next morning, a press statement explained.
Notably, the researchers found that greater average levels of stress and significantly higher energy than usual the day before were associated with a 17% increased chance of headache in the following afternoon or evening.
The study involved 477 participants who were asked to rate their mood, energy, stress, and headaches four times a day for two weeks using a mobile app. They also rated their sleep quality once a day and wore sleep and physical activity monitors, the statement revealed.
The findings, published in the journal American Academy of Neurology, showed headaches were associated with self-rated sleep quality rather than actual measures of sleep patterns. According to researchers, this highlights the importance of perceived physical and emotional states in the underlying causes of migraine. However, they found that neither anxious nor depressed moods were associated with headache attacks.
“These different patterns of predictors of morning and later-day headaches highlight the role of the circadian rhythms in headache,” said study author Kathleen R. Merikangas in the statement. “The findings may give us insight into the processes underlying migraine and help us improve treatment and prevention.”
A way to predict migraines could make it easier for people to have more control over the quality of their lives and avoid triggers.