Can’t Sleep? Blame Your Parents.

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. 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-percent 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-percent more likely to snore themselves.

Previous studies have found people who suffer from extreme sleeping disorders, such as narcolepsy and clinical insomnia, are influenced by their genetics.

“It is common for patients with sleep problems to describe family members having similar problems,” said Professor Eva Lindberg, first author of the study from the Department of Medical Sciences at Uppsala University in Sweden.  ‘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.”

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.