Over the past 20 years, a large body of experimental and epidemiologic evidence has linked sleep duration and quality to glucose homeostasis, although the mechanistic pathways remain unclear. The aim of the current study was to determine whether genetic variation influencing both sleep and glucose regulation could underlie their functional relationship. We hypothesized that the genetic regulation of electroencephalographic (EEG) activity during non-rapid eye movement sleep, a highly heritable trait with fingerprint reproducibility, is correlated with the genetic control of metabolic traits including insulin sensitivity and β-cell function. We tested our hypotheses through univariate and bivariate heritability analyses in a three-generation pedigree with in-depth phenotyping of both sleep EEG and metabolic traits in 48 family members. Our analyses accounted for age, sex, adiposity, and the use of psychoactive medications. In univariate analyses, we found significant heritability for measures of fasting insulin sensitivity and β-cell function, for time spent in slow-wave sleep, and for EEG spectral power in the delta, theta, and sigma ranges. Bivariate heritability analyses provided the first evidence for a shared genetic control of brain activity during deep sleep and fasting insulin secretion rate.
© 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.