PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Sleep and cluster headache (CH) are believed to be interconnected but the precise relation to the other trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias (TACs) is uncertain and complex. A better understanding of these relations may eventually lead to a clarification of the underlying mechanisms and eventually to more effective therapeutic regimens. This review aims to evaluate the existing literature on the subject of TACs and sleep. An association between episodic CH and distinct macrostructural sleep phases, especially the relation to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, has been described in some older studies but could not be confirmed in other, more recent studies. Investigations into the microstructure of sleep in these patients are lacking. Only a few case reports exist on the relation between sleep and other TACs. SUMMARY: Recent studies do not find an association between CH and REM sleep. One older study suggests chronic paroxysmal hemicranias may be locked to REM sleep but otherwise the relation is unknown. Reports indicate that CH and obstructive sleep apnoea are associated in some individuals but results are diverging. Single cases show improvement of CH upon treatment of sleep apnoea, but the causal relationship remains in question. Other TACs are probably not connected to sleep and strictly nocturnal attacks should prompt investigations for secondary causes. The relation between CH and sleep is, however, fascinating and detailed sleep studies in carefully diagnosed patients are warranted.
Cephalalgia : an International Journal of Headache, 2014, Vol 34, Issue 10, p. 813-822