Chronic headaches and insomnia: Working toward a biobehavioral model

Jason C. Ong*, Margaret Park

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Background: Sleep disturbances are consistently associated with chronic headaches, yet the mechanisms underlying this relationship remain unclear. One potential barrier to generating new hypotheses is the lack of synthesis between models of headache and models of sleep. The goal of this paper is to present a perspective on the chronification of migraine and tension-type headaches based upon conceptual models used in sleep research.Methods: We provide a critical review of the literature on sleep and headache, highlighting the limitations in sleep methodology. Models of sleep physiology and insomnia are discussed, along with the potential implications for the chronification of migraine and tension-type headache. In addition, we propose a biobehavioral model that describes the interaction between behaviors related to coping with headache, the impact of these behaviors on insomnia and sleep physiology and the downstream propensity for future headache attacks.Conclusions: We hope that this perspective will stimulate interdisciplinary activity toward uncovering the pathway for more effective interventions for chronic headache patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1059-1070
Number of pages12
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Chronic headache
  • coping behaviors
  • insomnia
  • migraine
  • sleep regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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