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Sleepless Genes

Dutch researchers have tied variants in half a dozen genes to insomnia, Live Science reports.

"Insomnia is all too often dismissed as being 'all in your head,'" co-senior author Eus Van Someren from Vrije Universiteit Medical Center in Amsterdam says in a statement. "Our research brings a new perspective. Insomnia is also in the genes."

In a genome-wide association study and a genome-wide gene-based association study encompassing 113,006 individuals, Van Someren and colleagues uncovered seven genes linked to insomnia, five of which hadn't previously been connected to the condition, as they report in Nature Genetics. The most significantly linked gene, they report, was MEIS1, which has been associated with restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movements of sleep.

Live Science notes that the genes the researchers homed in on have also been linked to other mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, and neuroticism. "This is an interesting finding, because these characteristics tend to go hand in hand with insomnia," says study co-author Anke Hammerschlag, a doctoral student at Vrije Universiteit, in a statement. "We now know that this is partly due to the shared genetic basis."