For the 30% of children who have difficulty falling or staying asleep, their genes could be the cause.
That’s according to a 15-year study recently published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, which found that certain genetic variants can impact quality and quantity of children’s sleep.
Researchers from the Department of Sleep and Cognition at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam analyzed the sleep habits of 2,458 children, as reported by their mothers.
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Those who were “genetically predisposed” to insomnia – based on polygenic risk scores previously used for adults – were more likely to suffer from it. sleep problems between 1½ and 15 years old.
These problems included difficulty falling asleep, sleeping less frequently than most children during the day and/or night, and waking up frequently during the night.
“Our study shows that genetic susceptibility to poor sleep is transmitted from adults to children,” corresponding author Desana Kocevska, PhD, of the Netherlands Institute of Neuroscience and Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, said in a statement Press.
“This finding highlights the importance of early recognition and prevention.”
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Other studies have shown that insomnia is hereditary in about 40% of cases, sleep quality is hereditary in 44%, and sleep duration is hereditary in 46%, according to the researchers’ summary.
One of the main potential limitations of the study is that sleep behaviors were self-reported. mothers of children and may be influenced by “maternal perceptions and expectations,” the study authors wrote.
For future studies, reports from fathers or other caregivers could help eliminate some potential bias, they noted.
Fox News Digital has contacted the study authors for comment.
“Our study shows that genetic susceptibility to poor sleep is transmitted from adults to children.”
Dr. Christopher Winter, Sleep Medicine Physician, Mattress Firm Sleep Consultant and Neurologist at Charlottesville, Virginiasaid he wrote the book “The Rested Child” in an effort to break the stereotype that poor sleep quality is only an adult problem.
He was not involved in the study, but shared his views on the findings.
“There are many factors that could predispose (people) to poor sleep quality,” he told Fox News Digital. “Underlying virtually all of these factors are genes that we inherit.”
Genes can determine many factors influencing the quality and quantity of sleep, Winters noted, including sleep timing, airway size and structure, predisposition to anxiety, and even how much sleep a person gets. requires.
“I think this study provides insight into the idea that young people may be predisposed to poor sleep, even at an early age,” he said.
Tips for improving children’s sleep
Although genetics play a roleWinter noted that many other environmental factors can disrupt sleep.
These may include electronics/technology, schoolwork, extracurricular activities, medications, employment, and social factors.
For children who have adequate opportunities for rest but still have poor sleep quality, Winter suggested seeking early intervention from a sleep specialist.
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“This is the key to not only solving the sleep problem, but also preventing a relatively benign and acute sleep problem from slowly turning into a more chronic and more difficult to treat disorder.”
He added: “Sleep disorders can be resolved. While there are many resources for children and parents when it comes to sleep, be sure to seek professional help. behavioral sleep specialist early – and not just by throwing melatonin candies at the problem. “
“For most of these children, sleeping pills and/or sedatives are not the right long-term solution,” he also said.
Funke Afolabi-Brown, MD, a Pennsylvania-based sleep pediatrician and member of BabyCenter’s medical advisory board, who was not involved in the study, also provided her suggestions for improving children’s sleep.
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“I recommend establishing a consistent bedtime routine, limiting screen time before bed, ensuring a comfortable sleep environment free of devices and other distractions, and engaging in regular physical activity,” she said. she told Fox News Digital.
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It’s also important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, to regulate a child’s sleep patterns, the expert added.
“Finally, if problems persist, consult a pediatrician or sleep expert.”
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