Struggling to sleep at night? Your parents might be the ones to blame as new research suggests insomnia may be hereditary.
A US study has found that having difficulty in getting shut eye is linked to specific genetic mutations.
The researchers also found a genetic link between insomnia and type 2 diabetes as well as depression.
Lead author Dr Murray Stein, from the University of California, San Diego, said: “A better understanding of the molecular bases for insomnia will be critical for the development of new treatments.”
Dr Stein’s team conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) – an approach that involves scanning markers across complete sets of DNA of a large group of people to find genetic variations associated with a specific disease.
They analysed DNA samples collected from 33,000 soldiers and compared their results with those of two recent studies that used data from the UK Biobank.
They concluded that insomnia has “a partially heritable basis” and found “a strong genetic link between insomnia and type 2 diabetes”.
Additionally, sleeplessness was found to be associated with major depression among participants of European descent.
Insomnia was linked to the occurrence of specific variants on chromosome 7, while among participants of European descent, there were also differences on chromosome 9.
Dr Stein said: “The genetic correlation between insomnia disorder and other psychiatric disorders, such as major depression, and physical disorders such as type 2 diabetes suggests a shared genetic diathesis for these commonly co-occurring phenotypes.”
“Several of these variants rest comfortably among locations and pathways already known to be related to sleep and circadian rhythms.
“Such insomnia associated loci may contribute to the genetic risk underlying a range of health conditions including psychiatric disorders and metabolic disease.”
The study is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.