Iowa Sleep Blog

Are Sleep Problems Familial?

Monday, April 18, 2016

There’s probably at least one person in your family, be it your dad, a grandparent or even an aunt, that everyone makes fun of for snoring, sleep talking, or being an insomniac. But did you know that some of those sleep disorders could be familial? Researchers are conducting more studies to find links between the sleep disorders and patterns of parents and their children, as well as connections to other family members. We’ve explored three areas of familial or hereditary sleep disorders:

From parents

If you have a parent who suffers from insomnia, you may be more prone to experience it as well. Studies have shown that some forms of insomnia can be hereditary. Some people’s genes increase their stress-reactivity, which can increase the likelihood of poor sleep quality and the chance of developing insomnia. Talk to your doctor to learn more, and see if genetic testing should be done to assess a genetic link to your inability to sleep.

Twin sleep disorders

Twins bring double the sleep, and double the routines, making it hard to keep both on the same schedules. It is also very common for twins to be born early, which means their lungs might not be as developed as babies that are carried to term. This could lead to respiratory problems, making it hard for them to breathe, especially at night. If not closely watched and monitored by a doctor, twins could develop sleep apnea symptoms later in life.

From other family members

If you have other family members that suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you might also be more likely to develop OSA. In a study that evaluating participants who have OSA and their undiagnosed relatives, more than 20 percent of the relatives were diagnosed with a sleep apnea, compared to only five percent of participants in the control group.

While there might be some sleep connection between family members, each person has unique sleep habits, therefore unique disposition to sleep disorders. Just because your dad has sleep apnea, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have OSA. If you do notice you are having trouble falling and staying asleep, we encourage you check out some of the resources on our site to learn more about what might be keeping you up at night. If they persist, set up an appointment with one of our doctors at 855.346.8899 or send us a question through our easy, online form.