In addition to its role as a chronic pain reliever, Lyrica (pregabalin) may also be an effective sleep aid for people with chronic pain. In turn, better sleep may also help relieve chronic pain. These findings were presented at the American Association of Neurologists’ annual meeting.
The results of the study, which was actually a review of findings from 14 previous Lyrica clinical trials, indicated that “pregabalin treatment significantly decreased pain and pain-related sleep disturbances by week 1 in patients with all except those with osteoarthritis. These improvements persisted throughout the trial.”
In my notes from a visit to the headache specialist last spring, I wrote that Lyrica is the first drug that mimics natural sleep patterns. This study is the only place I’ve found support for this claim. The article says that healthy trial participants had significant increases in stages III & IV sleep and woke up less in the night while taking Lyrica vs. a placebo. Have any of you heard anything like this elsewhere?
As part of keeping my body and mind on some sort of routine, I try to wake up when Hart does. When a particularly bad headache strikes when I’m asleep, continuing to sleep until my body says I should wake up usually alleviates the pain.
Occasionally, a morning will come where waking up is the last thing on my to do list. Assuming that I have a bad headache, Hart won’t push me to get out of bed and I, knowing that I’m tired, stay in the land of nod.
Then I wake up at noon, with a sort of hangover headache. It doesn’t become migraine-like pain, but its a heavy pain that rates between a 4 and 6. I feel like there’s a weight sitting on my head.
Why is it that so many people, with headache disorders or not, can tell similar stories? One theory is that serotonin and other brain neurotransmitters fluctuate during sleep. These variations can trigger the onset or worsening of headache pain.
So I can blame my brain for the impending implosion in my head. I will also fault it for my sheer lack of motivation. It’s 2:30 and I’m just beginning to post. I have given e-mail a cursory check, but haven’t looked at Bloglines for relevant headache news and information.
I’m physically and mentally tired. Lying on the couch reading chick lit is now my plan for the day, not sorting papers in the office or cleaning the disgustingly dirty kitchen. I don’t even want to return friends’ phone calls.
If your headaches cause you to lose sleep, a sleep aid may be an invaluable med to add to your arsenal. Not only will you sleep better, your better sleep might reduce the frequency or duration of your headaches.
The Mayo Clinic provides an excellent summary of the available sleep aids, including their side effects, precautions and warnings.
Two-thirds of kids with CDH also have sleep disturbances, reported a study presented at last week’s Annual Conference on Sleep Disorders. Although the study is about kids, the findings seem to be applicable to adults.
Researchers were surprised by their findings. Kenneth Mack, one of the researchers, said: “The number of patients who have headaches and also sleep disturbance surprised us. They also have the same sleep disturbance: a delay in sleep onset.”
Even though people with CDH and migraine are probably not astonished by this news, it’s still significant. Until someone identifies something as a problem, it’s not considered a issue, particularly in medicine. Once a topic is studied and the results are meaningful, some doctors and nurses will start treating those symptoms. Of course, the research has to be replicated to establish the connection, but it still raises awareness of the issue.
It also encourages headache sufferers to consider whether their sleep is disturbed, which, again, is the first step in treatment. Since lack of sleep is a big headache trigger, treating it may reduce the frequency and intensity of one’s headaches.
Whether or not melatonin is an effective to fight insomnia is still under debate. A recent study indicates that when you take the medicine affects how it works in the body. Researchers report that it was most effective when taken in sync with an individual patient’s sleep cycle.
They warn that people shouldn’t self-medicate with melatonin. The lead researcher says, “This is all very complicated. If you give melatonin at the right time of day it can be effective. But if you give it at the wrong time it can make sleep problems worse.”
Melatonin may or may not be an effective migraine treatment. A small study published last year shows that taking the supplement 30 minutes before bedtime can help reduce migraines. But headaches can also be a side effect of melatonin. I took it for a while, but stopped because it increased my headaches and made me drowsy. I was told that in my previous headache specialist’s practice, some patients didn’t have side effects at first, but developed them after a few months.
Obviously there’s no conclusive evidence or prescribing guidelines here. If you’re interested, you should definitely talk to your doctor about it. Supplements don’t have to meet ingredient requirements, so one kind can vary dramatically from another. It may also interact with other common headache meds.
An article in UC Berkeley’s Wellness Letter issues these warnings about the supplement:
- Having your levels measured won’t tell you anything, since levels vary from person to person and from hour to hour.
- Chronic use of melatonin supplements may suppress the body’s own production of the hormone.
- Nobody knows what might happen if you have high natural levels and take a supplement on top of that.
- Melatonin can interact with other hormones, which is why, in part, pregnant women and children should never take it.
- Such drugs as aspirin, beta blockers, and tranquilizers can affect melatonin levels.