Are Sleeping Disorders Genetic? Unraveling The Mysteries

Are Sleeping Disorders Genetic?
Sleep Disorders Affected By Genetics
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Yes, sleeping disorders can have a genetic component. Some sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, have been linked to specific genetic mutations.

While genetics may play a role in the development of sleep disorders, it's important to note that not everyone with a genetic predisposition will develop a sleep disorder. Other disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, may be more complex and involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

- Narcolepsy
- Familial advanced sleep phase syndrome (FASPS)
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
- Sleep apnea
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS)
- Fatal Familial Insomnia

Everyone needs to sleep several hours daily to stay healthy, process information, and to re-energize. For some people, unfortunately, sleep is elusive. Approximately one-third of people around the world suffer from some kind of sleeping disorder[1]. Are these conditions genetic? Can you blame your parents for your sleep troubles? 

What Are Sleeping Disorders?

Sleeping disorders are medically defined as conditions that disrupt the quality or quantity of sleep. Over 80 different sleeping disorders have been identified, including insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy[2]. Insomnia disorder is the most common type of sleeping disorder, affecting about 30% of adults worldwide[3]. `

Helpful Tip

Struggling with sleep? Remember, Hypersomnia and Insomnia require different approaches. Quality sleep hygiene practices are key for both.
A man sleeping

Understanding the Sleep Cycle: The Interplay of REM and Non-REM Sleep

Sleep isn't a single, uniform state of rest that descends upon us each night. Rather, it's a dynamic process involving different stages that cycle several times throughout the night. These stages include both Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep, each with its own distinctive characteristics and roles in maintaining our health and well-being.

Non-REM Sleep: The Foundation of Rest

Non-REM sleep, also known as NREM sleep, is divided into three stages:

Stage 1 (N1): This is the transition period between wakefulness and sleep, lasting only about 5-10 minutes. It's characterized by slow eye movement and a reduction in heart rate, breathing, and brain activity.

Stage 2 (N2): This stage represents the onset of sleep as we become unaware of our surroundings. Our heart rate and body temperature decrease further, and brain waves slow with only occasional bursts of rapid activity.

Stage 3 (N3): Also known as deep sleep or slow-wave sleep, this stage is vital for physical renewal and rejuvenation. During N3, growth hormone is released, aiding in cellular repair and growth. Additionally, this is the stage that helps boost immune function and manage stress and anxiety.

REM Sleep: The Dream Centre

Following the three stages of non-REM sleep, we enter REM sleep, typically about 90 minutes after falling asleep. REM sleep is when most dreaming occurs, and our brains become more active, almost akin to when we're awake.

During REM sleep, our eyes move rapidly behind our eyelids (hence the name), and our bodies become temporarily paralyzed to prevent us from acting out our dreams. This stage is crucial for memory consolidation, learning, and mood regulation.

The Sleep Cycle: A Nightly Journey

Throughout the night, we cycle through all these stages of non-REM and REM sleep several times, with each complete cycle lasting about 90 to 110 minutes. It's important to note that the duration of each stage changes throughout the night. Non-REM sleep, especially the restorative N3 stage, dominates the early cycles. As the night progresses, REM sleep periods become longer, peaking in the hours close to waking.

The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Health

Insufficient sleep or disruptions to the sleep cycle can lead to sleep deprivation, which affects both our physical and mental health.

Physical Health Consequences

Impaired Immune Function: Chronic sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections.

Increased Risk of Chronic Conditions: Lack of adequate sleep has been associated with a higher risk of various health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Negatively Impacts Growth and Development: During deep sleep (N3 stage of non-REM sleep), the body releases growth hormone. Sleep deprivation can impact this process, particularly in children and adolescents.

Mental Health Consequences

Cognitive Impairment: Sleep deprivation can affect various cognitive functions, including attention, decision-making, creativity, and memory.

Emotional and Mood Disorders: Lack of sleep can lead to mood swings, increased irritability, anxiety, and a higher risk of depression.

Reduced Quality of Life: Chronic sleep deprivation can affect one's overall well-being and life satisfaction.

Achieving a better understanding of our sleep cycle and the importance of both REM and non-REM sleep stages can be the first step in improving our sleep quality and, by extension, our health. If you're struggling with sleep, it might be beneficial to consult with a sleep specialist or a healthcare professional who can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and needs. [5]

Did you know? Certain hormones that cause anxiety can disrupt your sleep. Balanced nutrition and relaxation techniques can help manage them.

A man sleeping restlessly

Common Misconceptions About Sleep

There's a wealth of misinformation circulating about sleep. Here are some common misconceptions that you should be aware of:

Are Sleeping Disorders Genetic?

An image of an individual sleeping

According to studies, sleep is a genetically controlled behavior. Studies have shown that certain genetic variations are linked to individual sleep needs and preferences. Some of these variations are associated with the regulation of circadian rhythms, while others are associated with sleep architecture or the structure of sleep[4].

The same studies have also pointed out that certain sleeping disorders – like narcolepsy and insomnia – are linked to specific genetic abnormalities. However, the same sleeping disorder can have other non-generic factors that influence its onset and progression, which are explained below.

Genetic Sleeping Disorders

Genetic Sleeping Disorders

There are several sleeping disorders identified to have genetic factors as the cause of their development.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders - Generic conditions like Smith-Magenis syndrome and familial advanced sleep-phase syndrome (FASPS) are linked to genetic factors. These disorders often affect the sleep-wake cycle, causing people to either have difficulty sleeping or feel sleepy during the day.

Narcolepsy - People with narcolepsy experience daytime sleepiness, hallucinations at sleep onset, cataplexy (or sudden paralysis), and disturbed nighttime sleep. Genetic research has found that narcolepsy is caused by a combination of several genes, including HLA-DQB1, T-cell receptor alpha (TCRA), and P2RY11.[4]

Restless Leg Syndrome - RLS is a disorder that causes an urge to move the legs, especially when lying down or sitting for long periods of time, that will affect sleep quality and duration. Recent studies have identified a number of genetic markers associated with the disorder, including ones located on chromosomes 12 and 14.[4]

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome - OSAS occurs when the throat muscles relax and block your airway while you are asleep. This sleep disorder can cause trouble sleeping and are linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and excess weight. The most commonly identified genetic causes of ASAS are mutations in the PHOX2B gene and the TSHZ3 gene.

Chronic Insomnia - This is a condition that involves difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for an extended period of time. According to sleep research, chronic insomnia is common in individuals with Morvan's syndrome and in monozygotic twins. [4]

Fatal Familial Insomnia - This is an incredibly rare condition that runs in families and is caused by mutations in a prion protein gene known as the PRNP gene. Fatal Familial Insomnia symptoms include sleep problems, weight loss, dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, hallucinations, and eventually death. Treatment options for this disorder are limited.

Hypersomnia- Certain genetic conditions, such as Kleine-Levin syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome, can cause Hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness). People with this condition experience excessive fatigue, sleep issues, and difficulty concentrating during the day.

Parasomnia - Parasomnia conditions such as sleepwalking, talking in your sleep, bed-wetting, teeth grinding, and night terrors are all associated with genetic factors. These conditions are prevalent in children and can cause poor sleep quality and disrupted sleep patterns, leading to daytime fatigue.

Other Contributing Factors

According to MedlinePlus, there are several other contributing factors to sleep disorders besides genetics. These include[2], 

Can You Blame Your Parents for Your Sleep Troubles?

As you can see, there are other causes that can lead to sleep disorders. This means that genetics isn't the only factor to blame. While it's true that family history may contribute, you can not put all the blame on your parents.

So, if you experience any sleep problems, it is better to consult with a doctor before jumping to any conclusions.

Interesting tip

Caring for mentally ill parents can be taxing. Prioritize good sleep to maintain your own mental health and resilience in challenging times.

Diagnosis and Treatment

An image of a man sleeping

Diagnosis of sleeping disorders is made after a thorough physical and psychological evaluation. The doctor would also review your medical history, how much sleep you get, and your lifestyle habits, as well as any medications that you might be taking.

A sleep study or polysomnogram may also be performed to determine the frequency, duration, and quality of your sleep.

Treatments for sleeping disorders include therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, practicing good sleep hygiene, sleep medicine, and lifestyle changes.

How To Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

The quality of our sleep is often directly connected to our physical environment and our lifestyle habits. For those who are struggling with sleep disorders or simply want to enhance their nightly rest, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, crafting a relaxing bedtime routine, and designing a sleep-friendly bedroom environment can be significantly beneficial. Let's delve into these areas more deeply.

Maintaining a Regular Sleep Schedule

Our bodies thrive on regularity. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule—going to bed and waking up at the same time each day—can greatly improve the quality of our sleep. This regularity helps to set our body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, leading to more restful and restorative sleep.

Key tips for maintaining a regular sleep schedule include:

Helpful tip: Embrace the benefits of therapy for better sleep. Discussing your anxieties can lower stress levels, leading to more peaceful and restful nights.

Crafting a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

A soothing pre-sleep routine can signal your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Consider these activities for your bedtime routine:

A couple sleeping peacefully

Designing a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom Environment

Your bedroom should be a sanctuary dedicated to sleep. The environment can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep.

Below are a few suggestions for designing a sleep-friendly bedroom:

Triumph Over Sleep: Personal Journeys to Restful Nights

Frida Rångtell

In the past, she didn't prioritize her sleep, often staying up late for work or leisure. However, her perspective on sleep underwent a significant shift upon becoming a mother. Her sleep became more fragmented due to her newborn's frequent wake-up calls, leading to increased fatigue. However, as her daughter grew older and began sleeping through the night, she managed to establish a better sleep routine. Her previous habit of sleeping late on weekends transformed into early mornings spent engaging with her child.

She was aware that newborns have an unstable circadian rhythm and wake up frequently for feeding and security, yet she didn't anticipate her own irritability when being awakened during the night. The experience of parenthood has taught her to adapt and make changes, particularly in regards to sleep. Now, she prioritizes sleep over personal time when her child is asleep.

She emphasizes the importance of exposure to daylight for both her and her child to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, and avoids electronic devices during the night to ensure better sleep quality. Parenthood has not only transformed her sleep habits but also led to a newfound appreciation for the importance of a good night's sleep. [9]

Read Frida's Story.

Delphine Sherwood

In 2006, her life took a drastic turn as her first marriage ended, sparking a series of sleepless nights filled with intense questioning and self-doubt. She found herself waking up at 3 a.m. consistently, her sleep disturbed by vivid dreams and racing thoughts. Living in Sri Lanka at the time as a humanitarian worker, her life became a whirlwind of changes as she relocated to different states and countries over the next 13 years.

She encountered numerous personal losses, including the death of her father, her mother's cancer diagnosis, failed relationships, and unsuccessful pregnancies. All these events seemed to affirm her belief that she would forever be deprived of restful sleep, and she resigned to the impact it had on her energy levels, concentration, mood, and physical health.

However, in 2019, a surprising shift occurred. Despite enduring another challenging year marked by depression, weight gain, surgery, job loss, a divorce, and yet another relocation, she found that deep sleep had returned to her. The previously dreaded 3 a.m. mark was either bypassed or, if woken, she could quickly return to sleep. Now in a new city, with a new job, single, financially strapped, and solely responsible for her three dogs, it was as if sleep had re-emerged as a peace offering amid the uncertainty.

Now, she cherishes the restful nights spent with her dogs, confident that sleep would heal the day's mishaps and quiet the endless inner chatter. Awaking refreshed and filled with a renewed sense of hope, she believes that everything will eventually be alright. [10]

Read Delphine's Story.


Certain sleeping disorders can be generic or can develop over time due to one's lifestyle and environment. If one of your family members has a sleeping disorder, there is an increased chance that you might get it as well. Therefore, get screened periodically and practice good sleep hygiene to prevent the development of a sleeping disorder.

If you're struggling to sleep - Experience the transformative power of online therapy, your gateway to more peaceful nights and better sleep, all from the comfort of home.


At what age do sleeping disorders start?

Sleeping disorders may start at any age, but they are more common in adults and the elderly.

Is insomnia inherited from the mother?

Insomnia can be inherited from either parent, but genetic predisposition is more likely to be passed on from the mother. But genetics isn't the only factor that can influence the development of insomnia. It also depends on various factors, such as environmental factors and one's lifestyle.


  1. A Review on Genetics of Sleep Disorders - PMC
  2. Sleep Disorders | MedlinePlus
  3. Sleep epidemiology—a rapidly growing field | International Journal of Epidemiology | Oxford Academic
  4. Genetics of Sleep and Sleep Disorders - ScienceDirect
  5. Molecular Autism: Sleep disorders in rare genetic syndromes
  6. NLM: Sleep myths: An expert-led study to identify false beliefs about sleep that impinge upon population sleep health practices
  7. Choc's Children: Sleep Hygiene for Teens
  8. Pubmed: YOUR GUIDE TO Healthy Sleep
  9. Sleepy Cycle: Motherhood & sleep
  10. Sleepy Cycle: Sleeper, interrupted

Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia: A Comprehensive Comparison

Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia
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Hypersomnia is characterized by excessive sleepiness, where individuals may sleep for longer periods than usual, have trouble staying awake during the day, or take frequent naps.

Insomnia, on the other hand, is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. People with insomnia may struggle to fall asleep at night, wake up frequently during the night, or wake up too early in the morning, leading to insufficient sleep.

Hypersomnia Causes
- Certain medical conditions
- Drug or alcohol misuse
- Disruption to the normal functioning of a part of the nervous system
- Physical problems

Hypersomnia Symptoms
-Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Need to sleep despite having adequate sleep
- Sleep inertia
- Hallucinations
- Sleep paralysis
- Sleep attacks

Hypersomnia Treatment
- Medication
- Sleep hygiene
- Lifestyle changes
- Limit naps
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

Insomnia Causes
- Age
- Sex
- Family history and genetics
- Stress and anxiety
- Environment
- Occupation changes
- Caffeine
- Alcohol
- Nicotine
- Lifestyle changes
- Medical conditions

Insomnia Symptoms
- Inability to fall asleep
- Inability to stay asleep
- Fragmented sleep
- Early wake-time with difficulty in going back to sleep

Insomnia Treatment
- Sleep hygiene
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
- Relaxation techniques
- Lifestyle changes
- Over-the-counter sleep aids
- Prescription medication
- Address underlying conditions

Hypersomnia and insomnia are both about sleep. They both end in the same way. But they are different sleep problems. They have things that are the same and things that are different. Let's see how they compare.

Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia

Statistics of Hypersomnia and. Insomnia in a post about Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia


Hypersomnia makes people very sleepy during the day. People with it want to nap a lot. There are two types: primary and secondary Hypersomnia. [1][3].

Insomnia makes it hard for people to sleep. They can't fall asleep or stay asleep easily. This makes them tired during the day. There are two types: acute and chronic insomnia.[4]


Curious about the genetic factors that may contribute to sleep disorders? Our latest article, "Are Sleeping Disorders Genetic? Unraveling The Mysteries," delves into the fascinating world of sleep science to explore the potential hereditary links.
Prevalence of Hypersomnia and Insomnia table in a post about Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia

Prevalence of Hypersomnia and Insomnia

Hypersomnia and Insomnia Causes


These two sleep problems are related. Insomnia's causes are simpler, while Hypersomnia's are more complex. But, causes of insomnia can also lead to Hypersomnia. This is because problems like insomnia or sleep apnea can make someone have Hypersomnia[1].


The causes of insomnia include[2];

On the other hand, Hypersomnia is caused by[1];

Verdict: The causes of insomnia are more straightforward than the causes of Hypersomnia. Nevertheless, the underlying cause of Hypersomnia can be insomnia itself. It's also important to understand that the root cause of sleep disorders can be genetic, sometimes.

Insomnia and Hypersomnia Symptoms

A tired woman struggling to sleep in a post about Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia



Insomnia Symptoms

Hypersomnia Symptoms

Hypersomnia and Insomnia Diagnosis




Hypersomnia and Insomnia treatment graph in a post about Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia


Hypersomnia Treatment

Lifestyle Changes


Behavioral Therapies

Insomnia Treatment

Lifestyle Changes


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies

Alternative Treatments

Effects of Hypersomnia and Insomnia on Health and Daily Life

Hypersomnia and insomnia are sleep problems that can really affect someone's life. Both can harm the mind and body, causing many problems.

Effects of Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia can have a debilitating impact on a person's life. Some of the effects of hypersomnia include:



Effects of Insomnia

Insomnia can make daily life hard and handling tasks tough. Here are its effects:



Effects of hypersomnia and insomnia table in a post about Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia

Types Of Insomnia To Be Aware Of

Insomnia has different types based on how long it lasts, its causes, and signs. Knowing the types helps find the right treatment for each one.

Acute Insomnia (Short-term Insomnia)

Acute insomnia is short-term sleep trouble. It means having a hard time sleeping for a few days or weeks.



Chronic Insomnia (Long-term Insomnia)

Chronic insomnia is long-term sleep trouble. It lasts more than a month and makes it hard to sleep or stay asleep.



Onset Insomnia

Onset insomnia refers to the difficulty in falling asleep at the beginning of the night.



Maintenance Insomnia

Maintenance insomnia means you wake up a lot at night and find it hard to stay asleep.



Comorbid Insomnia

Comorbid insomnia happens with other health or mind problems. The sleep issues are linked to these other problems.



A man struggling with hypersomnia and drinking coffee in a post about Hypersomnia vs. Insomnia

Types of Hypersomnia That You Should Know

Hypersomnia has different types based on causes and signs. Knowing the types helps find the right treatment for each one.

Primary Hypersomnia (Idiopathic Hypersomnia)

Primary Hypersomnia means you're very sleepy during the day even if you sleep well at night. We don't know why it happens.



Secondary Hypersomnia

Secondary Hypersomnia occurs when excessive sleepiness is caused by an underlying medical condition, medication side effects, or another sleep disorder.




Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep attacks, and other symptoms. There are two types of narcolepsy: Type 1 and Type 2.



Kleine-Levin Syndrome

Levin Syndrome, also called Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, is a rare type of Hypersomnia. It makes you sleep too much for days or even weeks, over and over again.




Hypersomnia and insomnia are common sleep problems that can affect your daily life. Knowing how they're alike and different can help you figure out which one you might have. If you or someone you know has signs of these sleep issues, it's important to get help from a seek professional assistance for the right diagnosis and treatment plan.

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with hypersomnia or insomnia in the comments below. Your words might help others going through the same things.


How many hours of sleep is Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia is typically defined as excessive sleep beyond the normal range or sleeping more than 10 hours a day. However, some people may experience episodes of Hypersomnia that may last up to 16 hours.

Can I have both insomnia and Hypersomnia?

Yes, it is possible to experience both insomnia and Hypersomnia. This condition is observed in some individuals. However, those individuals often had other psychiatric disorders, such as depression. Therefore, seeking professional help for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan is important.


  1. Hypersomnia
  2. INSOMNIA Causes and Risk Factors
  3. Disorders of Excessive Somnolence
  4. Insomnia What is Insomnia
  5. Symptoms of Insomnia
  6. Hypersomnia Tests and Diagnosis
  7. Insomnia Diagnosis
  8. Hypersomnia Treatments
  9. Insomnia Treatments
  10. Prevalence of Chronic Insomnia
  11. Hypersomnia
  12. American Academy of Sleep Medicine Review: Treatment of Narcolepsy and other Hypersomnias of Central Origin
  13. Research Gate: Management of insomnia: Update and new Approaches
  14. National Academy Of Medical Science: Causes of Hypersomnia
  15. Sleep Health Foundation: Insomnia
  16. Veterans Affairs: Insomnia
  17. NLM: Hypersomnia

⚠️ Disclaimer: The content of this video is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Consult a qualified health professional for any medical concerns.