Insomnia linked to neuropsychiatric disorders rather than ‘sleep regulation’, genetic studies show

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Image credit: WebMD

[T]wo studies published [March 11] in Nature Genetics provide first peeks at the biological basis of insomnia, implicating specific brain regions and biological processes, and revealing links with heart disease and psychiatric disorders like depression. Both are genome-wide association studies (GWASs), which examine DNA from many thousands of individuals.

The two studies [here and here]found significant overlap between genes implicated in insomnia and those related to psychiatric and metabolic traits. Genes for traits, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes were sometimes the same. The findings suggest insomnia is more strongly related to neuropsychiatric disorders than to other sleep-related traits such as whether someone is a morning person. “That was a big surprise,” [geneticist Richa] Saxena says. “Implying that at the genetic level it’s a disorder that’s likely linked to psychiatric disease and mood regulation, and it’s not necessarily just about sleep regulation.”

Related article:  Viewpoint: AI may boost our diagnostic abilities, but it's not ready to replace human doctors

“Identifying new variants that contribute to risk helps pinpoint new biological targets,” [statistical geneticist Mackenzie] Lind says. This search, she adds, is “a step toward the eventual goal of using genetic information to predict risk and treatment outcomes, although we’re not at this point yet.”

Read full, original post: A Genetic Basis for Insomnia Emerges from the Twilight

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