Sleeping problems could be ‘inherited’ from your parents, new research suggests
- Children whose parents have insomnia are more likely to suffer with poor sleep
- Being overweight, old or getting too little exercise also cause sleep problems
- A lack of sleep has been found to make people more anxious, impair memory and raise the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer
If you have trouble sleeping at night, you might want to blame your parents.
Problems sleeping, from struggling to doze off to waking up through the night, are more common in people whose parents have the same issue, a study suggests.
The evidence suggests loud snoring may be partly inherited too, along with sleepiness during the day.
Researchers asked almost 6,000 middle-aged people and their grown-up children how they slept during the average week.
File photo dated 01/04/16 of a person in bed in the early hours of the morning. Children of parents who suffered from insomnia were about a third more likely than others to be insomniacs too
They found the children of parents who suffered from insomnia were about a third more likely than others to be insomniacs too.
People whose parents found it difficult to fall asleep at night were about 50 per cent more likely to have the same problem.
And someone who had been kept awake by a parent’s ‘loud and disturbing’ snoring was about 45 per cent more likely to snore themselves.
It is well known that being overweight, older or getting too little exercise can cause problems with sleep, but the findings suggest part of the problem may be inherited.
Previous studies have found people who suffer from extreme sleeping disorders, such as narcolepsy and clinical insomnia, are influenced by their genetics.
Professor Eva Lindberg, first author of the study from the Department of Medical Sciences at Uppsala University in Sweden, said: ‘It is common for patients with sleep problems to describe family members having similar problems.
‘The findings indicate that if your parents have sleep disturbances, you are indeed at increased risk.
‘Where these problems run in the family, people might want to avoid situations likely to change their regular night-time habits, as we know that not getting enough sleep is bad for health.’
A lack of sleep has been found to make people more anxious, impair memory and raise the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
The study participants were asked how often in a week they suffered from difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, felt excessively tired during the daytime or woke up early in the morning.
They were also asked how often they suffered from loud and disturbing snoring, night sweats or acid reflux.
Sleepless woman awake and covering face in the middle of the night (file photo). A sleeping problem was defined by someone suffering it at least three to five days a week, and insomnia was classified as difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, as well as feeling tired during the day
A sleeping problem was defined by someone suffering it at least three to five days a week, and insomnia was classified as difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, as well as feeling tired during the day.
The results, published in the journal Sleep Medicine, found people whose parents struggled to fall asleep were 52 per cent more likely to struggle too.
The chances of snoring were 45 per cent higher for children whose parent snored, and the chances of insomnia were 39 per cent higher if a parent had it.
Among the 5,855 adult children in the study, with an average age of 30, just over five per cent slept for less than six hours a night. But they were two-and-a-half times more likely to do this if a parent slept for a similarly short amount of time.
The results held true even when people’s weight, physical activity, age and smoking habits were taken into account.
Daughters appeared most likely to inherit the problem of waking up at night and fathers were most likely to pass on the habit of sleeping for a short time.
Studies suggest some people need less than five hours of sleep, and this is genetic, but it is extremely rare.