Is Insomnia Inherited These Genes May Control Your Sleep
The military recently conducted a study to look at genes, lifestyle factors and the ways that these affect the health of soldiers. More than 33,000 members of the Army submitted DNA samples as well as questionnaires about their health and habits. The connections made between certain genes and specific conditions were then cross-referenced with other studies.
Researchers found that people with a specific mutation on the seventh chromosome were much more likely to have insomnia. This gene, called RFX3, appears to contribute to sleep habits in several ways. When it is mutated, people understandably struggle to get the sleep that they need.
However, mutations in the RFX3 gene are not linked solely to sleep disorders. People with disorders in this gene also have a significantly higher risk of diabetes and major depression. Both of these diseases have been linked to insomnia in the past, although this is the first gene discovered that contributes to both factors.
Is Insomnia Genetic Understanding Genetic Sleep Disorders
Is insomnia genetic?
Studies are beginning to indicate the answer may be yes. One report on the human genome from 2018 confirmed insomnia is at least partially genetic. Various other pieces of research into sleep genes and hereditary conditions share this conclusion.
So, what does this mean for insomniacs? If genetic sleep disorders are a real problem, you might be wondering how you could possibly overcome your recent bout of sleep deprivation.
The good news is that although genetic insomnia does appear to be a real issue, this doesnt mean you cant move past your problems with sleep.
Many of the studies into hereditary sleep disorders indicate that people with bad sleep genes can still adjust their lifestyles to improve their sleep pattern.
Heres what you need to know about hereditary insomnia.
Whats Causing Your Insomnia
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Are you depressed? Do you feel emotionally flat or hopeless?
- Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry?
- Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?
- Are you taking any medications that might be affecting your sleep?
- Do you have any health problems that may be interfering with sleep?
- Is your bedroom quiet and comfortable?
- Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?
Don’t Miss: How Does Garmin Vivofit Track Sleep
Stress Also Affects Our Genes
When asked which other factors might contribute to a persons risk of insomnia, Lind explained that environmental factors particularly stress are to blame.
While we generally accept the connection between stress and insomnia, what actually happens in the brain is less clear.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that our environment particularly stressful life events can change which genes are expressed in our cells without directly altering our genetic code. This phenomenon is called epigenetics.
Importantly, epigenetic changes can be passed from parents to children, but they are also thought to be reversible. Researchers have begun to uncover epigenetic influences on how our bodies regulate sleep and respond to stress.
The bottom line is that insomnia has a significant genetic component. Scientists have now identified hundreds of genetic locations that may each contribute a little bit to a persons overall risk of developing insomnia. Environmental influences can further shape how these genes are expressed, linking life events to insomnia before and after we are born.
Do You Have Problems Sleeping Do You Think Insomnia Runs In The Family Our Sleep Doctors At Koala Center For Sleep & Tmj Disorders Can Provide You With Treatment Options To Help You Sleep Better Call Us For More Information Or Schedule Your Appointment With Us Online
Perhaps youre noticing problems in your sleep and are wondering whether genetics could be a factor. Wed like to help you figure this out here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders. Our sleep doctors can take a look at your medical history and even your familys medical history to help us understand your sleep problems better. And once weve determined what the underlying issue is, we can provide a lasting treatment to help you get better sleep. Read on to learn more about sleeping problems and how we can help.
Also Check: Cfr 38 Sleep Apnea
University Of Helsinki Found That Insomnia May Be Hereditary
In this study, around 12,500 adult twins were observed over a 19 year period. It was found that, compared with fraternal twins identical twins were more likely to suffer from insomnia issues. According to the researchers, this finding indicates that the insomnia problems are due to genetic factors. In addition, the researchers also found that insomniacs may have a shorter lifespan compared to those who get adequate amounts of sleep.
Most physiological parameters are, at some level, heritable. When looking at sleep in particular, there are a number of factors worth considering. There is evidence, for example, that the circadian timing of your sleep could be inherited, i.e. the tendency to be a morning lark, a night owl, or even a short-sleeper, may run in families.
Another potentially influential factor, comprising both physiological and mental aspects, is your arousability, i.e. the level at which you are naturally physiologically activated. If you struggle to regulate your levels of arousal towards bedtime, you may find it more difficult to initiate sleep once in bed. Indeed, the principle of arousability may also apply during the night, impacting on your ability to return to sleep after what would otherwise be a normal, brief awakening.
Natural Remedies To Beat Insomnia
Certain lifestyle factors may precipitate insomnia in susceptible individuals. Some of the considerations may include:
Caffeine: If consumed too late in the day, caffeine may contribute to difficulty sleeping. It is found in coffee, tea, soda pop, energy drinks, and chocolate. It may take 4 to 6 hours for half a serving to be metabolized. If you are sensitive to caffeine, it may be best to avoid it after noonor altogether.
Alcohol: Alcohol contributes to sleepiness due to its interaction with adenosine. It is metabolized fairly quickly, however, and this may fragment sleep. It suppresses deeper sleep stages. It may also contribute to snoring and sleep apnea. Therefore, it is best to avoid alcohol at least several hours before bedtime.
Nicotine: Smoking may lead to serious sleep disturbances. Nicotine may prolong wakefulness. Nicotine withdrawal can fragment sleep. Smoking may also contribute to irritation of the airway and risks for snoring and sleep apnea.
Recreational drugs: Though sometimes used as a sleep aid due to the effects of cannabinoids to promote relaxation, marijuana also suppresses REM sleep. It may lose its efficacy with time, ultimately failing to improve sleep. Cocaine, methamphetamine, and other illicit drugs are uppers that contribute to insomnia. As these drugs are not well-studied, it is probably best to abstain from all of them, including those like marijuana that purport to serve as sleep aids.
Don’t Miss: Dc Rainmaker Clever Training Coupon
Is Insomnia Genetic Yes And No
While genes have been associated with insomnia, several physiological and psychological factors can contribute to a persons lack of sleep. For example, some people suffer from insomnia simply because they habitually drink caffeine or energy drinks before bed. Its a habit they perform for so long that they may never realize that a simple lifestyle changecutting back on caffeinemay be the cure for sleepless nights.
However, many others may develop insomnia as a result of their own biology, by inheriting a set of genes from their parents that predisposes them to insomnia. This can happen because their genes tell their brains to go into hyperdrive at nighttime, or sometimes their genes simply make it hard to enter REM sleep.
Even if the problem is genetic, insomnia is still something that can be treated, and the treatment is the same regardless of whether you have a genetic predisposition. Consulting with a sleep specialist about the treatment plan that is right for you can help you to manage your insomnia and get a good nights rest.
Other Factors That Affect Genes And Gene Expression
With stress keeping millions of people up at night, its no surprise that stress is also one of the main triggers of genetically predisposed insomnia. While this connection between stress and lack of sleep is pretty easy to see, the biology behind it isnt quite so clear.
Traumatic or particularly stressful events can directly impact gene expression, altering your genetic code. This process is known as epigenetics. Some evidence shows that this process is hereditary but is also reversible. Studies are ongoing as scientists uncover the effect of epigenetics on how the body responds to stress and regulates sleep patterns.
The truth remains that whether discussing acute or chronic insomnia, or even gene expression, the cause is often something else. Primary insomnia, which generally presents itself on its own, is very rare. Most forms of insomnia are considered secondary, which means theyre the result of something else. The same can be said for hereditary insomnia. While you may be predisposed to sleep trouble, a bigger underlying problem must present itself and trigger the gene expression that causes sleepless nights.
Other than stress, here are a few of the main triggers for hereditary insomnia.
Recommended Reading: Gear S2 Sleep Tracking
Sleep Is An Important Part Of Your Health
Aside from your genes, many behaviors and lifestyle choices will influence how well you sleep. As mentioned earlier, we can help by providing a specific treatment plan to help you manage your sleep issues. If you feel like youve tried everything, and youre still struggling to sleep at night, please contact us. We can work with you to determine the underlying cause of your insomnia and come up with a customized plan to address your needs.
Despite any questions you may be asking yourself about whether your issues with insomnia have a genetic component, the path to properly address your insomnia is the same. Our team has the expertise to address your issues with insomnia and help you get the sleep you deserve. and discover how we can help.
Accumulation Of Prion Protein
Fatal insomnia is considered a prion disease, and thus also involves the accumulation of abnormally-folded forms of prion protein in the brain. These misfolded proteins have a tendency to accumulate into clusters that are resistant to being broken down by brain enzymes. The implications of these protein clusters forming in the brain is unclear, although they are often linked to pathological changes in the brain.
Prion proteins also are capable of passing their misfolded state on to other healthy proteins. Thus, they can spread within the brain of an infected patient, gradually increasing the number of misfolded prion proteins. Interestingly, their “infectious” quality also allows prions to cause disease if transmitted from one host to another. While it isn’t thought that fatal insomnia is spread among people in this way, the disease has been transmitted to mice by injecting them with a liquefied piece of brain tissue from a human patient who had the disease.
In fatal insomnia, however, there are relatively few clusters of prion protein in the brain as compared to other prion diseases. And, while deposits in some areas of the brain increase in number as the disease progresses, this isn’t true for the areas that experience the most neurodegeneration—like the thalamus. Thus, it’s still unclear what exactly causes the neurodegeneration that produces the symptoms of fatal insomnia.
Read Also: Garmin Vs Fitbit Sleep Tracking
Genes Vs Gene Expression
To understand how your genes affect your likelihood of insomnia, its helpful to know the difference between your genes and gene expression. Genes are located in chromosomes, which are found in the nucleus of nearly every cell in the body. Each person has over 20,000 genes, which help define the traits that make you who you are. Genes are made up of DNA, which gives your body instructions to make proteins and dictates what those proteins should do to help you function.
Your gene expression, on the other hand, determines whether or not each set of instructions is carried out. For example, in healthy sleep, the arousal system is inhibited via gene expression, allowing you to relax into sleep. In people who have a genetic risk of insomnia, however, the genes involved in this process may not be expressed. They may fail to send a message to the right neurons. As a result, the arousal system stays in overdrive, and your brain may not calm down as needed to initiate sleep.
You can think of the genetic risk of insomnia as being similar to that of diabetes . People with a family history of diabetes need to be more careful about their diet, sugar intake, and other variables that may increase their risk of diabetes. Similarly, people with a family history of insomnia may need to be more careful about practicing good sleep hygiene and taking preventative measures to prevent insomnia.
Is Insomnia Genetic Genetic Sleep Disorders
Sleep disorders affect people all over the world. Around 20% of people in America alone say they suffer from insomnia.
Throughout the globe, people are constantly searching for ways to overcome restless nights, and fitful dreams. For most of these individuals, it can seem as though insomnia has no rhyme or reason. Thats part of what makes the experience so frustrating.
However, according to recent research, insomnia could have something to do with your genes.
Although genetic sleep disorders have been proven by numerous studies, its worth noting insomnia isnt caused by genetics alone.
Several psychological and physiological factors can contribute to issues with sleep. Some people struggle to get enough sleep due to stress, others have an issue with drinking too much caffeine.
Genetic insomnia is just one reason you could be having those sleepless nights.
Hereditary insomnia is what happens when the genes passed down to you from your ancestors predispose your brain and body to sleepless nights.
Essentially, you end up with a certain instruction in your genome which stops your brain from shutting down properly at night.
You May Like: How Do Anti Snoring Nose Clips Work
Think Your Dna Could Be Messing With Your Sleep
Genetic testing is the only way to know for certain whether your genes are scaring away the sandman. But a chat with family members could help you determine if youre genetically predisposed to insomnia. Talk to as many relatives as possible: the more information you can gather, the better-equipped youll be to tackle the problem, Cralle said. And if you encounter any family members who have trouble sleeping, ask them what remedies they rely on to get a good nights sleep.
Brain Activity During Sleep
One way to verify the sleep disturbances occurring in fatal insomnia is to measure sleep activity over the course of a night using a technique known as polysomnography. Polysomnography measures the electrical activity in the brain along with a number of other physiological changes that occur during sleep like eye movement, muscle activity, and the electrical activity of the heart.
Polysomnography is often used to verify a case of fatal insomnia because patients may appear to spend periods of the night sleeping, as they have their eyes closed and aren’t moving. Polysomnography reveals, however, that their brain activity doesn’t resemble a pattern of normal sleep.
In a healthy person, during sleep the brain cycles from relatively light sleep into a period of deep sleep into a period a rapid eye movement sleep. A full cycle takes about 90-120 minutes and is repeated 4-6 times per night. These different stages of sleep have characteristic electrical activity that can be measured with an EEG.
The thalami are the orange, oval-shaped structures in the image. They are the site of the most significant neurodegeneration in fatal insomnia.
Recommended Reading: Candida Die Off Insomnia
What Sleep Disorders Are Genetic
Scientists have focused on families and the connection with sleep disorders, even focusing on twins with similar sleep problems. It is believed that environment, physical condition, and genetics all play a part in a variety of sleep disorders, including snoring and sleep apnea. Recent research has gone as far as finding gene mutations in family members that share a particular sleep disorder.Most causes of sleep disorders are environmental, however, several have a strong genetic link, including:
So Are Sleeping Problems Hereditary
Some sleeping problems certainly can be hereditary, yes. In fact, there are some well-documented familial and twin sleep disorder studies which say that genetics is a factor. Currently, a few sleep disorders have an established genetic basis. These are fatal familial insomnia, familial advanced sleep-phase syndrome, chronic primary insomnia, and narcolepsy with cataplexy.
Insomnia is quite common, and yes, it can be hereditary. Also, poor sleep can actually interrupt the normal function of your genes, so this can complicate matters further.
Many sleeping problems arent hereditary, so before you blame your parents, you should have your sleeping problems assessed by a proper professional!
From Genes To Brain Regions
In the largest GWAS of insomnia to date, the researchers analyzed data from 1,331,010 people and found 956 genes across 202 locations in the genome with a link to insomnia.
Some of these genes were enriched in cortical areas and the striatum in the brain, particularly in a type of cell called medium spiny neurons, which are implicated in reward processing. There was also a link to pyramidal neurons in the claustrum, which is important for the processing of incoming stimuli.
The second study identified 57 genetic locations with links to insomnia.
The results point to increased expression of 135 genes in the cerebellum, frontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, amygdala, and hippocampus.
The researchers also found an association with a type of cellular process called ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. This is a mechanism that targets proteins for destruction within cells, and scientists have previously linked it to insomnia.
Research is clearly making headway in identifying those genes that contribute to the genetic risk of developing insomnia but the heritability is not 100 percent. What else is involved?