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Open Access Research

Does sleep aggravate tension-type headache?: An investigation using computerized ecological momentary assessment and actigraphy

Hiroe Kikuchi12*, Kazuhiro Yoshiuchi2, Yoshiharu Yamamoto3, Gen Komaki1 and Akira Akabayashi2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychosomatic Research, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, 4-1-1 Ogawa-Higashi, Kodaira, Tokyo, 187-8553, Japan

2 Department of Stress Sciences and Psychosomatic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8655, Japan

3 Educational Physiology Laboratory, Graduate School of Education, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033, Japan

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BioPsychoSocial Medicine 2011, 5:10  doi:10.1186/1751-0759-5-10

Published: 12 August 2011

Abstract

Background

Both insufficient sleep and oversleeping have been reported as precipitating and aggravating factors of tension-type headache (TTH). However, previous studies relied on recalled self-reports, and the relationship has not been confirmed prospectively and objectively in a daily life situation. Recently, ecological momentary assessment (EMA) using electronic diaries, i.e., computerized EMA, is used to record subjective symptoms with the advantages of avoiding recall bias and faked compliance in daily settings. In addition, actigraphy has become an established method to assess sleep outside laboratories. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the within-individual effect of sleep on the following momentary headache intensity in TTH patients during their daily lives utilizing EMA and actigraphy.

Methods

Twenty-seven patients with TTH wore watch-type computers as electronic diaries for seven consecutive days and recorded their momentary headache intensity using a visual analog scale of 0-100 approximately every six hours, on waking up, when going to bed, and at the time of headache exacerbations. They also recorded their self-report of sleep quality, hours of sleep and number of awakenings with the computers when they woke up. Physical activity was continuously recorded by an actigraph inside the watch-type computers. Activity data were analyzed by Cole's algorithm to obtain total sleep time, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, wake time after sleep onset and number of awakenings for each night. Multilevel modeling was used to test the effect of each subjective and objective sleep-related variable on momentary headache intensity on the following day.

Results

Objectively measured total sleep time was significantly positively associated with momentary headache intensity on the following day, while self-reported sleep quality was significantly negatively associated with momentary headache intensity on the following day.

Conclusions

Using computerized EMA and actigraphy, longer sleep and worse sleep quality were shown to be related to more intense headache intensity on within-individual basis and they may be precipitating or aggravating factors of TTH.