A flurry of articles recently announced the discovery of seven new risk genes for insomnia. In an era when new genes are being identified for everything from infertility to schizophrenia, you might regard this discovery as simply the soup du jour.
Not me. Growing up when trouble sleeping was attributed to psychological factors, coffee, and alcohol, I was elated by this news. We stand to gain so much from knowing the genetic underpinnings of insomnia.
If you suspect there’s a biological component to your insomnia, you’re probably right. Although talk about insomnia is mostly confined to situational triggers as well as habits and attitudes that keep insomnia alive, all models of chronic insomnia assume the existence of predisposing factors. Some of these factors may be inherited at birth.
What evidence is there for genetic involvement in insomnia, and where might it lead? A review published recently in Brain Sciences brings us up to date.