Scientists Say Genes, Mental And Physical Health Problems Could Be Behind Sleep Disorders

A genetic link that binds insomnia with psychiatric disorders have been found by scientists along with the identification of genes that could be responsible for triggering the development of sleep problems. The psychiatric problems include ones like depression.

The scientists have also claimed that insomnia can also be linked physical problems like type 2 diabetes.

A new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry says that the impact of insomnia on an individual and his/her health can be crippling and thereby also result in severe pressures on the general healthcare system.

In addition to mental illness such as suicidal tendencies and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide, insomnia has also been linked to a number of long-term health ailments that include prolonged heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers further said that two studies in the past have established that heredity can be a cause of several types of sleep-related traits, including insomnia.

“A better understanding of the molecular bases for insomnia will be critical for the development of new treatments,” said Murray Stein from the University of California, San Diego in the US.

The study conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to arrive at the conclusion. In this method, the researchers took DNA samples from more than 33,000 soldiers and analyzed them. in order to identify the link of the outcome of the study with specific ancestral lineages the researchers separately grouped data from soldiers of European, African and Latino descent.

The results from the most recent study were also compared with the results from two previous but recent studies on the same issue. Following the analysis, the researchers came to the conclusion that there is partial hereditary issue associated with insomnia. They also confirmed a genetic link between type 2 diabetes and insomnia.

A genetic relation between sleeplessness and major depression was also noted among the respondents of European origin.

“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,” said Stein.

The research further claimed that sleep disorder is prevalent in at least 20 per cent of Americans while for others it is still worse. As much as half of the population of veteran U.S. soldiers suffered from sleep disorders.

The gene that the researchers identified to have a possible link to insomnia is a mutation on chromosome 7 and mutation of chromosome 9 among people of European descent.

“Several of these variants rest comfortably among locations and pathways already known to be related to sleep and circadian rhythms,” says Stein.

“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,” Stein added..

“Such insomnia-associated loci may contribute to the genetic risk underlying a range of health conditions including psychiatric disorders and metabolic disease.”

(Adapted from Livemint.com & Sciencealert.com)

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