Study Reveals Poor Sleep Linked to Genetics

They also found that Restless Leg Syndrome is linked to poorer sleep from the genetic variants associated with sleep measures derived from the accelerometer data

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Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

Suffering from sleep disorder? Blame genetics. A new study has found several parts of our genetic code that could be responsible for poor sleep.

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Exeter identified as many as 47 links between our genetic code and the quality and quantity of sleep.

Among the genomic regions discovered is a gene called PDE11A. The team found that an uncommon variant of this gene affects not only how long one sleeps but also the quality of sleep.

“This study identifies genetic variants influencing sleep traits, and will provide new insights into the molecular role of sleep in humans,” said lead author Samuel Jones from the University of Exeter.

Sleep deprivation can hurt performance and health. Wikimedia commons

“Changes in sleep quality, quantity and timing are linked to several human diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and psychiatric disorders,” added Andrew Wood from the varsity.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers looked at data from 85,670 participants of UK Biobank and 5,819 individuals from three other studies, who wore accelerometers-wrist-worn devices, which record activity levels continuously.

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They found that collectively, the genetic regions linked to sleep quality are also linked to the production of serotonin-a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Serotonin is known to play a key role in sleep cycles and is theorised to help promote deeper and more restful sleep.

They also found that Restless Leg Syndrome is linked to poorer sleep from the genetic variants associated with sleep measures derived from the accelerometer data. (IANS)

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Poor Sleep In Women Increases Risk of Heart Disease and Obesity

Poor sleep can increase cardiovascular disease risk in women

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Heart sleep
Women who sleep poorly are at a risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. Pixabay

Women who sleep poorly tend to overeat and consume a lower-quality diet, say health and lifestyle researchers, adding that poor sleep quality can increase the risk of heart disease and obesity.

Previous studies have shown that people who get less sleep are more likely to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease–and that the relationship may be partially explained by diet.

The current study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, was designed to get a more comprehensive picture in women by examining associations between overall diet quality and multiple aspects of sleep quality.

Heart sleep
Previous studies have shown that people who get less sleep are more likely to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Pixabay

“Women are particularly prone to sleep disturbances across the life span, because they often shoulder the responsibilities of caring for children and family and, later, because of menopausal hormones,” said Indian-origin researcher and study senior author Brooke Aggarwal from Columbia University Vagelos.

For the findings, the researchers analysed the sleep and eating habits of an ethnically diverse group of 495 women, ages 20 to 76. The study looked at sleep quality, the time it took to fall asleep, and insomnia.

The women also reported on the types and amounts of foods they typically eat throughout the year, allowing researchers to measure their typical dietary patterns.

Similar to previous studies of sleep and diet, the study found that those with worse overall sleep quality consumed more of the added sugars associated with obesity and diabetes.

Women who took longer to fall asleep had higher caloric intake and ate more food by weight, the researchers said.

Heart sleep
Women are particularly prone to sleep disturbances across the life span. Pixabay

And women with more severe insomnia symptoms consumed more food by weight and fewer unsaturated fats than women with milder insomnia.

“Our interpretation is that women with poor-quality sleep could be overeating during subsequent meals and making more unhealthy food choices,” said Aggarwal. “Poor sleep quality may lead to excessive food and calorie intake by stimulating hunger signals or suppressing signals of fullness,” said study lead author Faris Zuraikat.

“Fullness is largely affected by the weight or volume of food consumed, and it could be that women with insomnia consume a greater amount of food in an effort to feel full,” Zuraikat added.

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“However, it’s also possible that poor diet has a negative impact on women’s sleep quality, eating more could also cause gastrointestinal discomfort, for instance, making it harder to fall asleep or remain asleep,” Zuraikat concluded. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Genes Are Linked to Autism Risk

Research tested the ability of a low dose of the drug Ketamine, which is used clinically at higher doses as an anesthetic, to normalise the alterations in brain function induced by genetic deletion

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Autism
Importantly, the researchers found that the ability of the brain regions to communicate with other brain areas is impaired by the genetic deletion leading to Autism. Pxabay

Researchers have discovered how a genetic alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism and Tourette’s impairs brain communication.

People with a genetic deletion known as chromosome 2p16.3 deletion often experience developmental delay and have learning difficulties.

They are also around 15 times more likely to develop Autism and 20 times more likely to develop Tourette’s Syndrome, but the mechanisms involved are not completely understood.

Using brain imaging studies, neuroscientists showed that deletion of the gene impacted by 2p16.3 deletion (Neurexin1) have impacts on the function of brain regions involved in both conditions.

This genetic deletion disrupts a brain area known as the Thalamus, compromising its ability to communicate with other brain areas, said the study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

“We currently have a very poor understanding of how the 2p16.3 deletion dramatically increases the risk of developing these disorders,” said lead researcher Neil Dawson of Lancaster University in Britain.

“However, we know that the 2p16.3 deletion involves deletion of the Neurexin1 gene, a gene that makes a protein responsible for allowing neurons to communicate effectively,” Dawson said.

Deletion of the Neurexin1 gene affects brain areas involved in Autism and Tourette’s including the Thalamus, a collection of brain regions that play a key role in helping other brain areas communicate with each other.

Changes were also found in brain regions involved in processing sensory information and in learning and memory.

Importantly, the researchers also found that the ability of the Thalamic brain regions to communicate with other brain areas was impaired by the genetic deletion.

Autism
Researchers have discovered how a genetic alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism and Tourette’s impairs brain communication. Pixabay

They then tested the ability of a low dose of the drug Ketamine, which is used clinically at higher doses as an anesthetic, to normalise the alterations in brain function induced by genetic deletion.

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“Intriguingly our data suggest that Ketamine can restore some aspects of the brain dysfunction that results from 2p16.3 deletion and suggests that ketamine, or other related drugs, may be useful in treating some of the symptoms seen in autism and Tourette’s,” Dawson said. (IANS)

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Severity of Autism Spectrum Disorder Varies Among Twins: Study

Autism symptoms' severity varies greatly among twins

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Autism
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that affects how a person behaves, interacts with others and learns. Pixabay

Identical twins with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience large differences in symptom severity even though they share the same DNA, researchers from Washington University have found.

The findings, published in the journal Behaviour Genetics, suggest that identifying the causes of this variability may inform the treatment of ASD-related symptoms.

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that affects how a person behaves, interacts with others and learns.

Previous studies have found that when one identical twin has autism spectrum disorder, spectrum disorder chances are extremely likely that the other twin has it, too.

For the findings, the researchers analysed data from three previous studies comprising a total of 366 identical twin pairs with and without ASD.

Twins autism
Previous studies have found that when one identical twin has autism spectrum disorder, spectrum disorder chances are extremely likely that the other twin has it, too. Pixabay

The severity of autism traits and symptoms in the twins was measured by a clinician’s assessment or by parents’ ratings on a standardised questionnaire.

Some cases were diagnosed by both methods. The researchers determined a 96 per cent chance that if one twin has ASD, the other has it, too.

However, symptom scores varied greatly between twins diagnosed with ASD.

The researchers estimated that genetic factors contributed to only nine per cent of the cause of trait variation among these twins.

In contrast, among pairs of identical twins without ASD, the scores for traits were very similar.

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According to the study, the authors do not know the reasons for differences in symptom severity, but they rule out genetic and most environmental causes because the twins share the same DNA and were raised in the same environment.

Additional studies are needed to determine the cause, the researchers said. (IANS)