Is Insomnia Hereditary?
Is Insomnia Hereditary?
If you have problems getting to sleep or sleeping fitfully, you may have wondered if insomnia is hereditary. Did the physiological makeup of your great-grandfather lead to your insomnia? Are your mother and father responsible for the fact that you are always tired at work? Let us take a closer look at the mysteries of insomnia, and whether it is due or not to your genetic makeup.
To some level, we all have tendencies to either be a “morning person” or a “night owl”. And that may very well be because of your family tree. There is a genetic tendency to inherit the circadian rhythm of your sleep, causing you to prefer day or night time waking activities. And high energy individuals generally experience insomnia more than those of us who are naturally calm.
While the average person drops off to sleep within 15 minutes of bedtime, some people are actually born lacking the genetic makeup to let them drift off to sleep quickly. Instead, short bursts of sleep occur several times throughout the night. This never lets you experience the deep REM stages of sleep which are required by all human beings for proper rest and recharging.
Professor Eus van Someren heads up the sleep research team at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. He is considered one of the leading “sleep doctors” in the world. Multiple studies conducted by Dr. Someren show that as many as 33% of the world’s population could suffer from a genetic disposition which leads to poor sleep cycles.
But most doctors are in agreement that to a large degree, insomnia is the byproduct of learned behavior. Yes, your natural makeup might mean that you are more inclined to be an insomnia sufferer. But many insomniacs have a hard time going to sleep and staying asleep for reasons they can control.
Whether you have inherited the “insomnia gene” or not, there are a few things you can do to combat your learned or genetic sleeplessness. Do not drink caffeine closer than 8 hours before bedtime. Chocolate and other sweet treats can also give you an energy boost, so if you must feed your sweet tooth, do so during the day.
Drink plenty of water, but cut back in the evening hours to keep from having to make night time trips to the bathroom. And if you exercise later in the evening, the stress you put on your muscles tends to promote better sleep.
There is nothing you can do about your genetic makeup. But when you consciously attempt to eliminate activities which cause sleeplessness, you give yourself a much better chance at grabbing a healthy 40 winks every night.