Fatigue and Sleep in Chronic Headache Sufferers: An Age- and Sex-Controlled Questionnaire Study


Dr. E.L.H. Spierings, 25 Walnut Street, Suite 102, Wellesley Hills, MA 02181.


We studied fatigue and sleep in chronic headache sufferers in comparison to age- and sex-matched controls. We determined the prevalence and intensity of fatigue as well as several sleep features. The study was conducted in a headache center through the use of a questionnaire. One hundred thirteen headache sufferers (59 men and 54 women) and 110 controls (56 men and 54 women) were included in the analysis. Fatigue was found to be equally common in the headache sufferers (70.3%) and in the controls (60.0%). However, the headache sufferers rated the intensity of their fatigue significantly higher (4.1 versus 2.8 cm on a 10-cm visual analog scale). When the sexes were considered separately, the difference in intensity of the fatigue between the two groups was significant only for the women (5.1 versus 3.0 cm). With regard to sleep, the headache sufferers slept significantly shorter (6.7 hours) than the controls (7.0 hours). It also took them longer to fall asleep (31.4 versus 21.1 minutes) and longer to fall back asleep after waking up at night (28.5 versus 14.6 minutes). When the sexes were considered separately, the differences in sleep features between the two groups were significant only for the men.

On the basis of these results, we conclude that chronic headache sufferers feel more tired, especially the women, and do not sleep as well at night, especially the men. Further study is necessary to determine the significance of these findings in relation to chronic headache suffering.