Insomniac? This study has a major revelation for you
"Exercise more", "meditate", "stop over thinking things", "you're not going to sleep if you think you're not going to sleep", "drink green tea not coffee", "stop eating sugar", "drink less alcohol", "paint your room blue", "put down your phone", "don't watch TV before you go to bed", "listen to binaural beats", "learn how to stop worrying" - these are just a sampling of the advice that people (often who have never experienced insomnia) will hand out to insomniacs in order to help them get more sleep. But if you are an insomniac, you will also know that most of this is a load of rubbish.
Thanks to a new international study, insomniacs might be able to sleep easy, as a team of researchers from around the world has found that your genes might play a larger part in your sleeplessness than your lifestyle, showing, for the first time, that contrary to popular belief, insomnia is not a purely psychological condition.
Looking at a sample of 113,006 people, researchers have uncovered seven risk genes for insomnia, one of which has already been linked to other sleep disorders, including Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS), which is interesting because, as the findings point out, PLMS and RLS are characterised by restless movement and sensation, whereas insomnia is characterised by a restless stream of consciousness.
The findings, which were the result of a collaboration between Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Institute of Neurogenomics at the Helmholtz Zentrum, München, Germany, UK Biobank and the Dutch Sleep Registry, aalso found a "strong genetic overlap" with anxiety disorders, depression and neuroticism, and low subjective wellbeing. . "This is an interesting finding, because these characteristics tend to go hand in hand with insomnia," said neuroscientist Anke Hammerschlag (VU), PhD student and first author of the study. "We now know that this is partly due to the shared genetic basis."
Researchers hope that the findings will lead the way to better treatment and understanding of the common condition. "As compared to the severity, prevalence and risks of insomnia, only few studies targeted its causes," says lead researcher Eus Van Someren. "Insomnia is all too often dismissed as being 'all in your head'. Our research brings a new perspective. Insomnia is also in the genes."
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