The studies will help scientists to prevent night waking problems
A new study shows that specific patterns in DNA may determine whether we develop insomnia, reports MailOnline.
Researchers in the Netherlands collected genetic information from 2,500 unborn babies and followed them up to age 15, measuring their sleep patterns.
They found that teenagers with genes known to affect sleep were more likely to wake up during the night than their peers without these DNA configurations.
A genetic predisposition to poor sleep patterns has already been demonstrated in adults. Scientists have identified mutations in genes such as NPSR1 and ADRB1 that can lead to sleepless nights.
However, the latest findings show that the gene for “bad sleep” is active throughout a person’s life, BTA informs
Researchers from Rotterdam University Medical Center and the Netherlands’ Erasmus University Medical Center are using their findings to highlight the importance of identifying poor sleep in early childhood – as early as infancy – to prevent lifelong insomnia.
DNA samples were collected from 2,458 European children born between April 2002 and January 2006, using cord blood and blood from the same children at age six.
In parallel with the DNA analysis, the mothers reported on their children’s sleep patterns at ages one and a half, three and six years, and then at ages 10 to 15. A subset of 975 teenagers wore sleep-tracking devices for about two weeks.
The researchers generated DNA risk markers for each teenager and found more insomnia-related sleep problems, such as night waking and trouble falling asleep during childhood, in those with high genetic predisposition markers. The scientists explained:
“We provide indirect evidence for the persistence of the poor sleep phenotype across the lifespan. This opens the door to further research into the genetically based early detection and prevention of sleep problems.” Their findings were published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
It has been established that solving sleep problems at an early age of the child leads to better conditions for his development and academic success.
Another 2022 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that nearly 93 percent of low-achieving students had sleep disorders, compared with 83 percent of average students and 36 percent of high-achieving students.
The importance of sleep should not be overstated, yet a study by the National Sleep Foundation in the US found that over 87 percent of American high school students sleep less than the recommended eight to ten hours a night.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has described the problem of poor sleep quality among teenagers as an “epidemic” driven by “electronic media use, caffeine consumption and early school starts.”
That data helped fuel a movement of parents and sleep experts lobbying state legislatures to introduce later school start times.
California and Florida are the only two states that have adopted later start time rules, requiring classes in public high schools to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.