Do you toss and turn all night unable to get enough restful sleep? Do you have a hard time waking up in the morning? Do you find yourself dozing off in business meetings?
You DNA may have something to do with it.
Recent scientific publications have shone some light into the role that DNA plays in predisposing you to certain sleep patterns.
For example, a study published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications, found DNA changes associated with the time people are likely to naturally fall asleep, that is their “chronotype”. Broadly speaking, people fall into two chronotypes, “morning people” and “night people”, commonly referred to as “morning larks” and “night owls” respectively. The scientists’ findings showed that people with the most morning chronotype DNA variants went to bed 25 minutes earlier than people with the fewest. However, the data showed that morning people did not sleep longer or better than night people.
What about sleep disorders like INSOMNIA?
Scientists have known that sleep disorders can be inherited. However, the root causes for these conditions were hard to find. Recently, the power of DNA technology has helped provide interesting insights. A large study out of the UK identified several genes associated with insomnia (MEIS1, HHEX, RHCG, IPO7 and TSNARE1). This study highlights the impact of a DNA variant is the MEIS1 gene which is also associated with restless leg syndrome (RLS). However, RLS did not on its own explained insomnia. The data also showed some DNA-related differences in sleep patterns between men and women, dozing, snoring, among others.
What else can my DNA tell me about my sleep?
Your DNA can also help explain your sensitivity to caffeine, and the levels of essential nutrients important for healthy sleep such as vitamins D and B12.
How can I learn what my DNA has to say about my sleep patterns?
Visit the MySleepInsights page if you would like to test your DNA for clues about your sleep quality.
Sleep quality is affected by many factors, not all of them genetic. Please check our blog post “WHY CAN’T I FALL ASLEEP” for a longer discussion.
Make sure to consult with your medical professional if you continue to experience poor sleep.
by Adrian Vilalta, PhD
- Jones, et al. “Genome-Genome-wide association analyses of chronotype in 697,828 individuals provides insights into circadian rhythms” Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 343 (2019)
- Christensen, et al. “Direct Measurements of Smartphone Screen-Time: Relationships with Demographics and Sleep” PLOS ONE; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165331 November 9, 2016
- Morin, et al. “Insomnia Disorder” Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2015 Sep 3;1:15026. doi: 10.1038/nrdp.2015.26.
- Hammerschlag, et al. “Genome-wide Association Analysis of Insomnia Complaints Identifies Risk Genes and Genetic Overlap with Psychiatric and Metabolic Traits” Nat Genet. 2017 Nov;49(11):1584-1592. doi: 10.1038/ng.3888. Epub 2017 Jun 12.