Study links excessive daytime sleepiness to group of genes

Feeling sleepy during the day? You might blame it on your genes: Researchers have linked excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) to 42 genetic loci, or gene locations.

EDS is a condition that affects 10-20% of the population. It is associated with several sleep disorders including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and circadian rhythm disorders. The condition contributes to motor vehicle crashes, work-related accidents, and loss of productivity. Researchers have also associated EDS with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Studies suggest that genetic factors may contribute to this disorder, but the exact genes involved are unclear.

In the current study, researchers studied self-reported daytime sleepiness data from more than 450,000 participants of European genetic ancestry using the UK Biobank. They then compared this data to a genetic analysis from this group. The researchers identified 42 genetic loci associated with EDS, including genes expressed in brain areas that are implicated in sleep-wake control and genes influencing metabolism.

The study, funded in part by NHLBI, appeared in Nature Communications. NIDDK and NHGRI also provided support for this study.