Genetic study of insomnia shows link with depression and heart disease

Insomnia is a common disorder linked with adverse long-term medical and psychiatric outcomes, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Researchers recently identified 57 loci for self-reported insomnia symptoms in the UK Biobank (453,379 individuals) and confirmed their impact on self-reported insomnia symptoms in the HUNT study (14,923 cases, 47,610 controls), physician-diagnosed insomnia in Partners Biobank (2,217 cases, 14,240 controls), and measures of sleep efficiency and sleep duration in the UK Biobank (n=83,726). They found evidence of shared genetic factors between frequent insomnia symptoms and restless legs syndrome, aging, cardio-metabolic, behavioral, psychiatric and reproductive traits. The results also suggest a possible causal link between insomnia symptoms and coronary heart disease, depressive symptoms and subjective well-being. According to the authors, this research provides a comprehensive description of the genetic architecture of frequent or persistent insomnia symptoms. The study, which was partly funded by the NHLBI, was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

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University of Exeter
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