Pain coping strategies for tension-type headache: Possible implication for insomnia?

Jason C. Ong*, Edward J. Stepanski, Sandra E. Gramling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: Insomnia has been identified as a risk factor for tension-type headache, although the pathogenesis of sleep disturbance in this population is unclear. The present study examined pain-related self-management strategies in a nonclinical, young-adult sample for preliminary evidence to support a novel hypothesis for the development of insomnia in this population. Methods: Self-report data on triggers of headache, pain interference with sleep, and pain-related self-management strategies were analyzed for 32 women with tension-type headache and 33 women with minimal pain who served as controls. Results: The results revealed that a significantly greater proportion of the headache group relative to the control group reported sleep problems as a trigger of headaches, stress as a trigger of headache, and going to sleep as a coping strategy for pain. The headache group also reported significantly higher ratings of pain interference with sleep. Going to sleep was the most commonly used self-management strategy (81 %) by headache sufferers and also rated as the most effective strategy (5.5 out of 7.0). Conclusions: These findings suggest that a bidirectional relationship between sleep disturbance and headache is present in this young-adult sample. Furthermore, the frequent use of sleep as a self-management strategy for pain is consistent with the hypothesis that sleep-seeking behavior might be a mediating factor in the development of insomnia among people with tension-type headache. This hypothesis fits within the most widely accepted conceptual model of chronic insomnia and should be further investigated in individuals with both tension-type headache and insomnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-56
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 15 2009


  • Behavioral risk factor
  • Insomnia
  • Tension headache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Pain coping strategies for tension-type headache: Possible implication for insomnia?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this