Are Sleep Issues Genetic?

Is the thought of a good night’s rest more of a dream than a reality? Perhaps you’ve tried every possible sleep remedy, tip, and trick out there, with little or no success. Could your family history be the missing link to solving your sleep issues?

Recent studies have found a link between your genetic history and how well you sleep at night. Adopting positive sleep habits are still important, but it’s a good idea to understand the impact your genetics play on your ability to get a good night’s rest.

Here at ApneCare Sleep Lab, we want to help you understand what may be causing some of your nighttime blues, so that you can get the best night’s rest possible. Read on to learn a few things about sleep and how genetics may be at play.

Rested on little sleep

Are you one of those lucky people who can feel rested with less than eight hours of sleep? If so, your genes are probably made a bit differently than most people’s.

Studies have shown that one of the genes that control circadian rhythms -- your body’s clock -- might be different for some people. The gene is called ABCC9, and it’s only found in about one in seven people. If this is part of your genetic makeup, you can feel rested on about 30 minutes less sleep every night compared to the general population.

Morning people

Did you naturally wake up early to start your day? Your circadian rhythm is responsible for your natural sleep-wake patterns. One study reported that people who called themselves a morning person had genetic similarities. They found 15 genes that impact circadian rhythm that could be part of the reason you identify as an early riser or a night owl.

Since large sleep studies are relatively new, more research needs to be done. But this study gave researchers confidence that a better understanding of sleep needs will be found in the future.

Sleepwalking and sleep terrors

If you or a loved one suffers from sleep terrors or sleepwalking, you probably want to understand why it’s happening. Sleep terrors occur when you’re still asleep, but have episodes of intense fear, screaming, and flailing. They often occur together with sleepwalking, which like it sounds, means walking around while you’re still asleep.

You’re more likely to have sleep terrors if others in your family have struggled with them too, but genetics are not solely to blame. Other factors that can increase your risk of suffering from this disorder includes overtiredness, fever, stress, and sleep schedule disruptions.


Scientists from Vrije University in Amsterdam analyzed genetic data from UK Biobank and 23andMe to conduct the largest insomnia study ever. A total of 1.3 million people participated in the study to help scientists determine if genetics played a role in insomnia. Researchers found 956 different genes linked to this disorder, and they discovered that if your parents struggled with it, it’s more likely you will suffer from sleepless nights too.

The study didn’t provide any definitive answers about the cause of insomnia, but it made researchers hopeful that one day they’ll understand insomnia better and find new ways to treat it.

Sleep is one of the most important activities you do each day. Without it, nothing in your body functions well. If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s rest and you’re not sure why, call one of the offices in Mesa, Arizona or Bakersfield, California or schedule an appointment online. We can help you get to the bottom of your nighttime blues.

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