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Insomnia as Much a Genetic Disorder as Psychological Condition, says Study

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Published on : Jun 30, 2017

A team of researchers at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam has detected seven genes that cause insomnia. This first of its kind study marks an important step towards unveiling the biological mechanisms of insomnia, which so far has been considered purely a psychological condition.

Rated as the most common health complain among the urban populations, the quality of sleep seldom improves even after treatment in many people. The researchers believe that the new findings will pave the way of communication within and between neurons, and lead to effective treatment in the near future. The study involved samples taken from 113,006 individuals, and noted seven genes that cause insomnia.

MEIS1 Related to RLS and PLMS

These particular genes, one of whom is identified as MEIS1, affects the regulation of transcription, and release molecules by cells, which them communicates with their environment. These genes have already been known to be related to sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS). Most importantly, RLS and PLMS are signified by sensation and restlessness, while insomnia is primarily characterized by restless stream of consciousness.

Another key finding of this study is the strong genetic overlap of these seven genes with other traits such as depression, anxiety disorders, low subjective wellbeing, and neuroticism. The research has emphasized that there is significant different between the prevalence of these insomnia-causing genes in women and men. Out of the sample that was studied, only 24% men were reported to be suffering from insomnia, while 33% women were affected by it.