Study Suggests Genetic Link for Insomnia

If you're not getting enough sleep, call the sleep specialists at Bon Secours Hospital for an appointment in our Sleep LabA new study on insomnia suggests there may be a genetic connection to the sleep disorder.

In fact, the risk of having insomnia is 67 percent higher for people who have a blood relative who has the sleep disorder, according to the study presented at the 4th World Congress on Sleep Medicine in Quebec City.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Université Laval, included 3,485 people who were interviewed and followed for one year.

The data showed that 40 percent of the survey participants came from a family with at least one member who had insomnia.

“Most of them had one insomniac in the family (76 percent), but some had two (21 percent), or even three (3 percent). The risk of suffering from insomnia increased according to the number of family members with insomnia, i.e., 37 percent, 250 percent and 314 percent for one, two, or three family members with insomnia, respectively,” according to a news release from the Université Laval.

“There is very probably a genetic factor behind the family aggregation we observed,” said Charles M. Morin, who directed the research team. “However, we don’t know if the mechanism is a physiological process that interferes with sleep or a predisposition to anxiety.”

Federal health authorities say insomnia, left untreated, is linked to increased illness or morbidity. It is the most common sleep problem for Americans. About 40 percent of adults experience symptoms of insomnia at some point during the year, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research.

The National Sleep Foundation lists the following symptoms for insomnia:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • waking up several times
  • having a hard time going back to sleep
  • waking up too early in the morning
  • feeling tired in the morning
  • daytime sleepiness
  • concentration problems
  • irritability

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