Tags: sleepwalk | genetic | family | hereditary

Sleepwalking May Run in the Family

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2015 04:28 PM

Sleepwalking may be genetic, according to new research showing kids are more likely to take nocturnal strolls if their parents do.

In fact, six in 10 children of parents who are both sleepwalkers tend to engage in the behavior themselves, according to researcher published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

"These findings point to a strong genetic influence on sleepwalking and, to a lesser degree, sleep terrors. This effect may occur through polymorphisms in the genes involved in slow-wave sleep generation or sleep depth. Parents who have been sleepwalkers in the past, particularly in cases where both parents have been sleepwalkers, can expect their children to sleepwalk and thus should prepare adequately," the study concludes.

Sleepwalking is a common childhood sleep disorder that usually disappears during adolescence, although it can persist or appear in adulthood. Sleep terrors are another early childhood sleep disorder often characterized by a scream, intense fear and a prolonged period of inconsolability. The two disorders (also known as parasomnias) share many of the same characteristics and arise mainly from slow-wave sleep, according to background information in the study.

The findings — by Jacques Montplaisir, M.D., of the Hospital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal — are based on analysis of sleepwalking and sleep terrors during childhood and later in 1,940 Canadian children born in 1997 and 1998 and studied in 1999 to 2011.

The researchers found 56 percent of the children reported sleep terrors and 29 percent were sleepwalkers.

The results indicated children who had sleep terrors were more likely to develop sleepwalking later in childhood, especially if one or both parents engaged in the behavior.

Children with one parent who was a sleepwalker had three times the odds of becoming one themselves, compared with children whose parents did not take nighttime strolls. Children whose parents both had a history of sleepwalking had seven times the odds of becoming a sleepwalker.

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Sleepwalking may be hereditary, according to new research showing kids are more likely to take nocturnal strolls if their parents do.
sleepwalk, genetic, family, hereditary
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 04:28 PM
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