Hereditary Sleep Patterns: Genetics & Sleep Habits

Sleep is essential to our general health and well-being. Research indicates that sleep habits and patterns may be inherited, suggesting that your genetic makeup may impact your sleep patterns. By better understanding the genetic factors associated with advanced, delayed, and short sleep periods, we can establish methods for enhancing them.

Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder 

Advanced Sleep Phase (ASPD) is a consistent tendency to fall asleep earlier than the typical bedtime. Individuals with ASPD are often referred to as “early birds.” Scientific studies have revealed a strong hereditary component to ASPD, with specific genes influencing the timing of our internal body clocks. This genetic predisposition means that if your parents or grandparents were early birds, it is more likely that you may also experience a similar sleep pattern.

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD). People with DSPD are naturally inclined to stay up late and struggle with waking up early in the morning. During adolescence, many individuals experience a delay in their sleep phase. If one or both of your parents are night owls, it increases the likelihood that you may inherit their genetic disposition toward delayed sleep patterns. Those with DSPD often struggle to wake up in the morning and may rely on multiple alarms to rouse themselves.

Short Sleep Duration

Some individuals function optimally on fewer hours of sleep than the general population, qualifying them as short-sleepers. Short sleepers consistently thrive on less than six hours of sleep, often averaging around four to five hours. Recent studies have identified specific gene variants associated with short sleep duration, further emphasizing the hereditary nature of this sleep pattern. While short sleepers may require less sleep, it is essential to acknowledge and accept their natural sleep needs to avoid unnecessary anxiety and pressure to conform to societal norms.

Managing Hereditary Sleep Patterns

While inherited sleep patterns can influence your natural tendencies, it is important to recognize that it is possible to change your sleep habits. Here are a few strategies to consider.

1. Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder and Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder:

  • Light exposure: Utilizing exposure to light, particularly bright light in the evening for ASPD and light in the morning for DSPD, can help regulate the body’s internal clock.
  • Behavioral changes: Adopting consistent sleep schedules, practicing relaxation techniques, and establishing a calming bedtime routine can aid in adjusting sleep patterns.
  • Stimulus control: Implementing strategies such as limiting bedroom activities to sleep and sex can help reinforce healthy sleep habits.

2. Short Sleep Duration:

  • Acceptance and awareness: Recognize that short sleep duration is a natural characteristic for some individuals, and striving for more sleep may create unnecessary stress.
  • Optimize sleep environment: Create a sleep-friendly atmosphere that promotes relaxation and supports quality sleep, such as a consistent schedule, noise reduction, and a cool, dark room.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i): Seeking professional help from a sleep specialist can assist in improving thoughts and behaviors surrounding sleep and developing effective strategies for better sleep quality.

Professional Sleep Therapy Promotes Healthy Sleep Habits

Research indicates that sleep patterns and habits can be hereditary, influenced by specific genes and genetic variations. Understanding the genetic influence on sleep can empower you to embrace your natural sleep tendencies while implementing strategies to optimize sleep quality. You can improve your overall well-being by adopting healthy sleep habits and seeking professional guidance. Contact us today to learn more about our various sleep therapy treatments.