Genetics + Sleep Disturbance

Genetic Connections Discovered Between Sleep and Some Medical Disorders A recent study in December 2016 by a team of American and Bri...


Genetic Connections Discovered Between Sleep and Some Medical Disorders

A recent study in December 2016 by a team of American and British researchers unearthed genetic connections between sleep disturbance and a range of medical disorders.

For the very first time, areas of the genome that are associated with sleep disturbance (like insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness and restless legs syndrome ) were identified, while also discovering new genetic links with several medical conditions, including RLS, schizophrenia and obesity.

How did they do it? Researchers studied the health and life history of more than 112,000 individuals taking part in the UK Biobank study. Participants reported their sleep duration, the degree of insomnia/daytime sleepiness, and then had their genes mapped. Health information including weight and disease diagnoses was also included. Researchers then compared the biological controllers of sleep duration, insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness, and how these linked to the surveyed individuals.

These researchers discovered eight genes that may contribute to sleep issues - the first to be specifically linked to insomnia. Their findings revealed that a portion of the genes that are most strongly linked to sleep disturbances were also linked to RLS, insulin resistance, depression, schizophrenia and obesity.

This marks the first time that sleep disorders and these conditions have been connected at a molecular level, increasing our understanding of the relationship between biology and sleep.

The paper that resulted from the study, "Genome-wide association analyses of sleep disturbance traits identify new loci and highlight shared genetics with neuropsychiatric and metabolic traits," was published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics. The article is available for purchase.

Read the HealthCanal article to learn more about this groundbreaking discovery!

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