The genetic basis of sleep disorders

Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(32):3386-95. doi: 10.2174/138161208786549308.


The contribution of genes, environment and gene-environment interactions to sleep disorders is increasingly recognized. Well-documented familial and twin sleep disorder studies suggest an important influence of genetic factors. However, only few sleep disorders have an established genetic basis including four rare diseases that may result from a single gene mutation: fatal familial insomnia, familial advanced sleep-phase syndrome, chronic primary insomnia, and narcolepsy with cataplexy. However, most sleep disorders are complex in terms of their genetic susceptibility together with the variable expressivity of the phenotype even within a same family. Recent linkage, genome-wide and candidate gene association studies resulted in the identification of gene mutations, gene localizations, or evidence for susceptibility genes and/or loci in several sleep disorders. Molecular techniques including mainly genome-wide linkage and association studies are further required to identify the contribution of new genes. These identified susceptibility genetic determinants will provide clues to better understand pathogenesis of sleep disorders, to assess the risk for diseases and also to find new drug targets to treat and to prevent the underlying conditions. We reviewed here the role of genetic basis in most of key sleep disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genes / physiology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / genetics*