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J Sleep Res. 2000 Mar;9(1):49-54.

Familial incidence of insomnia.

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Ecole de Psychologie et Centre d'Etude des Troubles du Sommeil, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.


This study evaluated the familial incidence of sleep disturbances among individuals with insomnia complaints. The sample consisted of 285 patients evaluated for insomnia at a sleep disorders clinic. All patients completed a sleep survey and underwent a semistructured clinical interview as part of their initial evaluation of insomnia. Information on the presence and nature of sleep disturbances among their family members (first- and second-degree relatives) was obtained from a sleep survey. The findings indicate that 35% of patients consulting for insomnia had a positive family history of sleep disturbances. Insomnia was the most common type of sleep disturbance identified (76%) and the mother was the most frequently afflicted family member. Reports of sleep disturbances among a family member were more prevalent when the onset of insomnia was before 40-years-old than when it was later in life. A positive family history was slightly higher when the insomnia complaint involved sleep-onset difficulties relative to sleep-maintenance or mixed insomnias. Although the present findings suggest that a positive family history of insomnia may be a potential risk factor for insomnia, it is unclear whether this reflects a genetic predisposition or a social learning phenomenon.

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