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Gene links migraine and sleep disturbance

Most people with migraines know that migraines run in families. If you have migraines, chances are you have a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousins, or children who also have migraines:

  • When one parent has migraines, about half of their children will get migraines
  • If both parents have migraines, about three of every four children will get migraines

Because of this strong family link, researchers have investigated genes that might be shared between those with migraines that might offer clues about what causes migraine.

Dr. Brennan from the University of California–Los Angeles and colleagues recently released some fascinating new research revealing new genetic mutations in people with migraines and a sleep disorder, published this month in the journal Science Translational Medicine1. Two families with a strong history of migraines were studied. In addition to migraines running in their families, they also shared a sleep disorder called, advanced sleep phase syndrome. This syndrome causes people to be “early to bed, early to rise,” often going to bed by 8 PM and getting up around 5 AM. The researchers identified a common mutation linked with both the occurrence of migraine and the sleep disturbance in these families. The mutation involved the casein kinase I δ gene. This gene is important for adding phosphorus to a number of proteins and helps regulate cell growth and survival. To see if this gene might indeed be linked with migraine symptoms, experiments were conducted on mice. When mice were bred with this same mutation, they were found to have changes in their brain, like cortical spreading depression, that are also seen in humans with migraine.

This research offers new insights into both the mechanisms of migraine, links between migraine and sleep disturbance, and possible targets for future migraine therapies.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

1. Brennan, KC, et al. Casein kinase iδ mutations in familial migraine and advanced sleep phase. Science Translational Medicine. 2013 May 1;5(183):183ra56. Available at:


  • taralane
    6 years ago

    Very interesting. I have always been an early riser – sometimes well before 5 and go to bed early. No idea this may be something to do with my migraines which I have had for 44 years, and are chronic, leaving me incapacitated for 4-5 days/week. I am adopted so have no medical history, but at this point in my life it does not matter so much.

  • casrak
    6 years ago

    This is a great article. i have come to find out that my Mother, sister, grandmother and several cousins suffer from Migraines

  • caradrouin
    6 years ago

    That’s me: early to bed, early to rise. My father is like that. My mother and her family have migraines. My sister has neither.

  • mrsbrimtown
    6 years ago

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard of advanced sleep phase syndrome, but this sounds just like Grandma, Dad, and myself.

    Very interesting!

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