Insomnia may be in the genes – study

Insomnia may be hereditary, and lack of sleep is linked to a host of health problems, particularly heart disease and depression, according to recent research.

A US study of the genes of over 450 000 people found 57 gene regions that could be linked insomnia, indicating the sleep disorder is inherited. The genetic regions also shared connections with various conditions, particularly coronary artery disease and depression.

“Our findings confirm a role for genetics in insomnia symptoms and expand upon the four previously found [genetic regions] for this condition,” said researcher Dr Jacqueline M. Lane.

The study found that insomnia may result in a 78% risk of coronary artery disease, a 22% risk of depression, 18% risk of type 2 diabetes and 50% risk of developing colorectal cancer.

“…our findings suggest that depression and heart disease are actually a result of persistent insomnia,” said another researcher, Dr Samuel Jones, from the University of Exeter.

Insomnia affects about one in three South Africans and previous research indicates that insomnia increases the risk of anxiety disorders, alcoholism, major depression and heart disease.

Nutritional expert, Vanessa Ascencao, says lack of sleep also affects the body’s ability to defend against infections and disease, adding that research shows sleep deprivation is costing South Africa billions of rand in lost productivity.

To counter insomnia, Ascencao advocates a balanced diet, limited caffeine, exercising daily and taking quality sleep-supporting supplements such as Felix, a highly effective saffron extract proven to help enhance mood and counter unhealthy food cravings, and BetterYou Magnesium Oil transdermal spray which helps relax the body and aids natural sleep.

Additionally, Ascencao suggests:

  • Develop a healthy sleep routine of eight hours of good quality sleep a night.
  • Avoid screens for two hours before bed, darken the room and listen to soothing music or read a book.
  • Avoid processed, starchy and sugary foods and alcohol, and stop eating at least two hours before bed.
  • Eat whole, natural foods such as fruits and vegetables and stay hydrated with water.


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