Habitual sleep disturbances and migraine: a Mendelian randomization study

Iyas Daghlas, Angeliki Vgontzas, Yanjun Guo, Daniel I Chasman, International Headache Genetics Consortium, Richa Saxena*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVE: Sleep disturbances are associated with increased risk of migraine, however the extent of shared underlying biology and the direction of causal relationships between these traits is unclear. Delineating causality between sleep patterns and migraine may offer new pathophysiologic insights and inform subsequent intervention studies. Here, we used genetic approaches to test for shared genetic influences between sleep patterns and migraine, and to test whether habitual sleep patterns may be causal risk factors for migraine and vice versa.

METHODS: To quantify genetic overlap, we performed genome-wide genetic correlation analyses using genome-wide association studies of nine sleep traits in the UK Biobank (n ≥ 237,627), and migraine from the International Headache Genetics Consortium (59,674 cases and 316,078 controls). We then tested for potential causal effects between sleep traits and migraine using bidirectional, two-sample Mendelian randomization.

RESULTS: Seven sleep traits demonstrated genetic overlap with migraine, including insomnia symptoms (rg = 0.29, P < 10-31 ) and difficulty awakening (rg = 0.11, P < 10-4 ). Mendelian randomization analyses provided evidence for potential causal effects of difficulty awakening on risk of migraine (OR [95% CI] = 1.37 [1.12-1.68], P = 0.002), and nominal evidence that liability to insomnia symptoms increased the risk of migraine (1.09 [1.02-1.16], P = 0.02). In contrast, there was minimal evidence for an effect of migraine liability on sleep patterns or disturbances.

INTERPRETATION: These data support a shared genetic basis between several sleep traits and migraine, and support potential causal effects of difficulty awakening and insomnia symptoms on migraine risk. Treatment of sleep disturbances may therefore be a promising clinical intervention in the management of migraine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2370-2380
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

This research has been conducted using the UK Biobank Resource (application 6818). We thank the staff and participants of the UK Biobank, and the members of the UK Biobank Sleep and Chronotype Genetics team. Although 23andMe provided the migraine GWAS summary statistics, they had no role in the design, conduct, or analysis of the study. We would like to thank the research participants and employees of 23andMe for making this work possible. Finally, we acknowledge the members of the International Headache Genetics Consortium

© 2020 The Authors. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Neurological Association.


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