Rolf Fronczek, PhD, MD: Cluster Headaches and Sleep

November 9, 2018

Recent work demonstrates that the anterior part of the hypothalamus is enlarged in cluster headache.

“It's very interesting that there's a relationship between severe headache attacks, really severe headache attacks and sleep."

The exact connection between cluster headache and (REM)-sleep has never been fully clarified, however, recent work has demonstrated that the anterior part of the hypothalamus, the location of the biological clock, is enlarged during cluster headache.

To provide more insight into the association between cluster headaches and sleep, NeurologyLive spoke with Rolf Fronczek, PhD, MD, Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Sleep-Wake Centre SEIN, 24th Congress of the European Sleep Research Society in Basel, Switzerland.

Fronczek emphasized that clinicians need to be aware that sleep problems can be associated with cluster headaches and to follow-up with patients, and if necessary, refer them to a sleep specialist. A majority of patients with cluster headache, Fronczek added, suffer from insomnia.

The episodic and circadian nature of cluster headache, the association with sleep as well as neuroimaging data suggest a role between the hypothalamus and its biological clock, which still needs to be explored further.