Is insomnia more of a genetic, biochemical or environmental disorder?

This question was asked in Alturas, California on 12/14/2012.
I'm curious about the origin of this sleep disorder. I'm wondering if I inherited it or if it came from another, outside factor.

Doctors Answers (4)

Jana P. Kaimal, MD, FCCP
Answered on: 12/21/2012

Insomnia is both inherited and acquired. A good family history will give you the answer. If your parents or grand parents general poor sleepers your problem may have genetic origin. As brain is very plastic you both acquire and treat insomnia. Treat your brain like your child Give it structure. Go to bed when you feel sleepy but wake up always everyday at the same time. Eat, exercise, and be in the sun at the same time. Meditate for 20 minutes. Avoid all thing that make you anxious or angry. Learn to think correctly, speak correctly, act correctly. Always act with forethought. Don't be afraid of life.accept what you can not change. Don't worry about sleep. No one dies of insomnia. Everyone has enough time to create peaceful refreshing sleep. Medical problems must be adequately addressed or excluded always.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 12/20/2012

Insomnia has several types that can be biologic or psychologic and also perpetuated by the environment or lifestyle behaviors. Seeking out advise from a sleep professional or possibly a neuropsychologist may be of benefit.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 12/18/2012

Insomnia can be related to all three of the conditions you mention; genetic, biochemical and environmental. Insomnia is basically defined as the inability to sleep when the setting is conducive to sleep (in other words you are not being sleep deprived from an uncomfortable bed or loud noises) and you suffer the following day. If you sleep for two hours and feel great for 22 hours you don't have a problem. There are those who are predisposed to insomnia and it may be genetic. Sometimes, it is a "learned" behavior from a parent or sibling. Obviously, stress and other external factors may play a role resulting in temporary and even chronic insomnia. The biochemical aspect is speculative but if you do not have enough of the transmitters that induce and maintain sleep (serotonin, acetylcholine, etc.) or if you have an excess of those transmitters that produce wakefulness (dopamine, orexin, etc.) then insomnia is inevitable. This can be induced by medications, injury to the central nervous system such as a head injury, stroke or infection.

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 12/17/2012

There are so many route causes of insomnia. To answer your question, a full sleep evaluation, history, physical exam would need to be performed. I would suggest you find a sleep physician in your area and set an evaluation.