What Sleep Disorders Are Genetic?
Sleep disorders can be genetic but they are also treatable. So if you suffer from sleep disorders, come to Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders. For more information, call us or visit us online to book an appointment. We have convenient locations across the U.S. in Bloomington IL, Peoria/Dunlap IL, Lafayette IN, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX and Wausau WI.
Table of Contents:
Genetic sleep disorders are a group of disorders that can cause difficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep at night. Sleep disorders can affect people of all ages, but are most common in young adults and the elderly. Sleep disorders are more likely to occur in people who have experienced some type of trauma, such as when they were sleep deprived, suffered surgery, or were in a car accident. Sleep disorders can also be caused by sleep apnea, which is a disorder that affects the respiratory system. There is a genetic aspect to sleep disorders as it has been proven that certain sleep disorders, such as insomnia, can be passed down from parent to offspring.
Current thinking tells us that genetically inherited causes are responsible for many cases of sleep disorders. However, much more research must be conducted to determine the correlation between genetics and sleep disorders. The following are a few of the most commonly recognized sleep disorders that have a genetic aspect:
Insomnia, with symptoms such as:
– Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
– Difficulty sleeping at night
– Light sleeping/easy nightly awakening
– Difficulty staying awake during the day
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD), with symptoms of:
– Movement in response to dreams
– Noises, such as talking, laughing or shouting
Narcolepsy, which is characterized by:
– Excessive daytime sleepiness
– Sudden loss of muscle tone
– Sleep paralysis
– Changes in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
Sleep apnea, which causes symptoms like:
– Loud snoring
– Pauses in breathing during sleep
– Gasping for air during sleep
– Awakening with a dry mouth
– Morning headache
– Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
– Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
– Difficulty paying attention while awake
Restless legs syndrome (RLS), which can cause:
– Sensations that begin while resting
– Relief with movement
– Worsening of symptoms in the evening
– Nighttime leg twitching
Sleep deprivation is not inherently genetic as it is defined by getting less than 7 hours of quality and restful sleep each night. However, conditions that lead to sleep deprivation can be hereditary, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
Available research suggests narcolepsy may have a genetic basis, but since it also requires certain environmental conditions to develop in a person, there is no clear pattern for the inheritance of narcolepsy. More research must be conducted in this area in order to establish a clear-cut connection between narcolepsy and a genetic predisposition.
Genetic sleep disorders can be difficult to treat as the underlying cause is not always clearly defined. However, sleep disorders often respond well to treatment when provided by a qualified and experienced sleep specialist. The treatment for genetic sleep disorders depends on the type of disorder, its underlying cause, as well as its severity and chronicity (duration). For example, sleep apnea, for which risk factors can be passed down genetically, is often treated with oral appliance therapy or CPAP therapy. Insomnia, which has genetic aspects, may be treated with lifestyle modifications, dietary changes or other first-level treatments. Medications are typically not preferred for the treatment of sleep disorders as they do not address the underlying cause and can cause additional symptoms that can interfere with quality of life.
If you believe you have a genetic sleep disorder, come to Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders for quality care. Call us today to book an appointment with our dedicated sleep team, or visit one of our locations.