What is Insomnia?
Insomnia (also known as sleeplessness) is a common sleep disorder that is characterized by the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, resulting in tired or unrefreshing sleep.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), insomnia is the most common sleeping disorder.
Approximately 30% to 40% of adults in the United States report symptoms of insomnia.
A diagnosis of insomnia needs to meet the following two categories:
- Difficulties in sleep for at least three nights a week for a minimum of three months
- Difficulties in sleep that results in functional distress in the individual’s life
This can be caused by variations in biological, psychological, and social factors, which most often result in a reduced amount of sleep.
How Does Genetics Influence Insomnia Risk?
A research study published in 2019 found an association between certain variants in genes like DLG4, LRRK2, DNM1, CRH, GRIN1, DRD1, DRD2, SNCA, DRD4, NTSR1, CNTN2, and CALB1, and insomnia. DNM1 gene codes for the synaptic neuronal protein dynamin 1, which is associated with pre-sleep arousal, a characteristic feature among people with insomnia.
According to a research study, the heritability of insomnia is between 38 to 59%. This suggests a role of genetic factors in insomnia.
Tissue-specific gene-set analyses showed that insomnia might have higher genetic signals among genes that are usually expressed in the brain. The functions of these regions of the brain are of relevance to insomnia.
The genetic correlations between insomnia and psychiatric traits were stronger than the genetic correlations between insomnia and other sleep-based characteristics. According to the study, this suggests that genetically, insomnia resembles neuropsychiatric traits more closely than other sleep-related characteristics.
MEIS1 Gene and Insomnia
The MEIS1 gene is a transcription factor that plays a key role in hematopoiesis, endothelial cell development, and vascular patterning.
It also plays a role in neurodevelopment.
Research studies have shown that the reduced MEIS1 levels and function of the gene may contribute to the pathogenesis of sleep-related disorders.
rs113851554 And Insomnia Risk
The rs113851554 is a G>T polymorphism located in the MEIS1 gene, which is found to be correlated with multiple sleep disorders.
A study found that the T allele of rs113851554 is associated with [an increased risk of developing insomnia symptoms] (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27992416/). Also, functional study analysis suggested that the rs113851554 in the MEIS1 locus is most strongly associated with insomnia disorder.
Non-genetic Influences On Insomnia Risk
Insomnia is more common in women than in men. In fact, women are twice as likely to fall asleep than men. One in four women has some insomnia symptoms.
Insomnia is more common in older people more than men and younger ones. As many as 50% of older adults complain about difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep.
Effects Of Insomnia On Health
- Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, inflammation, obesity, seizures, diabetes, and asthma.
- Increased risk of anxiety and depression.
- A negative impact on your memory.
- You find it harder to concentrate and be productive during the day.
- Lack of sleep can make you more prone to falling and accidents by affecting your balance.
- Insomnia can lower your life expectancy as reported by a study.
TipsTo Prevent And Manage Insomnia
- Try to wake up at the same time every day and follow a routine to control your sleep cycle.
- Avoid napping during the day for a long time.
- Don’t eat right before going to bed and reduce alcohol consumption.
- Do some physical activity every day. It helps improve sleep quality and duration.
- Reduce your stress before sleeping and set up a comfortable environment.
- Massage therapy is known to help people with insomnia sleep better. Meditation can also be helpful.
- If lifestyle changes don’t work out for you, consult a doctor to understand the underlying health condition, and take the right medication.
- Insomnia, the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, is the most common sleeping disorder.
- This can be caused by variations in biological, psychological, and social factors, resulting in a reduced amount of sleep.
- There are genetic correlations between insomnia and psychiatric traits. The MEIS1 gene, known to play a role in neurodevelopment, may contribute to the pathogenesis of sleep-related disorders. The T allele of the rs113851554 SNP is associated with an increased risk of developing insomnia symptoms.
- Insomnia is found to be more common in women than in men.
- Sticking to a proper routine, exercising, less frequent napping, reducing stress, massage therapy, and reducing alcohol consumption and smoking can help prevent and manage insomnia.