Insomnia is generally dismissed as a minor issue caused by either stress or bad habits like all-night-long Netflix binges. A pair of recently published studies argue that insomniacs are more susceptible to heart and mental health issues. The studies analyzed specific traits encountered in the human genome, but further research is needed until the information can be used to develop concrete therapies that could help patients in the long run.
Some sources claim that insomnia leads to approximately $63 billion in productivity loss per year. Other statistics note that insomnia may be more severe than most people believe, with up to 33% percent of the population being affected by it at any given time. While the long term damage seems to be dire, insomnia wasn’t a topic of interest until recently.
One of the studies focused on the links between specific sequences of DNA and observable behaviors or clinical symptoms caused by insomnia. The genome of over one million people was analyzed in what is deemed to be the largest genome-wide association study (or GWAS) to date. Data was provided by a private genetics firm and a well-known UK genetics study. According to the data providers, 30% of the participants had insomnia.
New human genome studies revealed that insomnia negatively impacts heart and mental health
The study showed that 956 genes could infer or predict a high-risk level associated with insomnia. A large number of these genes have been previously linked to depression, diabetes, and heart disease but they exert a minor influence on sleep-related features like being an early riser or overall sleep quality.
A different study also surveyed more than 450,000 genomes and discovered 57 chromosomal locations which contain 236 genes linked to insomnia symptoms. MEIS1, a gene related to the restless leg syndrome has surfaced in both studies, as well as a large number of genes which are associated with mental health issues, such as depression, low quality of life, and heart disorders.
The second study notes that a clear line can be drawn between insomnia and the development and the appearance of symptoms linked to the before-mentioned heart and mental health conditions. Further research will be conducted in the future to verify and eventually confirm the findings of the new studies.