Summary: New research reveals that genetic variants influencing sleep patterns in adults also affect children’s sleep quality and duration.
Analyzing data from 2,458 children, the study found that those with a genetic predisposition for insomnia experienced more sleep disturbances, while those inclined towards longer sleep faced frequent night awakenings.
These insights suggest that sleep issues may be a lifelong trait, stressing the need for early identification and intervention in children at risk of poor sleep.
The study utilized a polygenic risk score originally developed for adults to assess sleep issues in children.
Findings indicate that genetics play a consistent role in sleep patterns from toddlerhood through adolescence.
Researchers emphasize the potential benefits of early detection and preventive measures for children genetically inclined towards sleep disturbances.
Previous research has identified genetic variants associated with insomnia and sleep duration in adults.
Now a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry has found that these variants also likely affect sleep quality and quantity in children.
In the study of 2,458 children of European ancestry, children who were genetically predisposed to insomnia (based on a polygenic risk score developed for adults) had more insomnia-like sleep problems such as frequent awakenings or difficulty initiating sleep, as reported by their mothers, whereas those who were genetically predisposed to longer sleep had longer sleep duration but were also more awake during the night in adolescence.
The authors noted that by showing that genes predisposing adults to insomnia also play a role in poor sleep from toddlerhood to adolescence, they provide indirect evidence for a ‘poor sleeper’ trait across the lifetime.
“Our study shows that genetic susceptibility for poor sleep translates from adults to children. This finding emphasizes the importance of early recognition and prevention,” said corresponding author Desana Kocevska, PhD, of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and the Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam.
About this genetics and sleep research news
Author: Sara Henning-Stout Source: Wiley Contact: Sara Henning-Stout – Wiley Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News
Original Research: The findings will appear in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry