The Connection Between Genetics and Environmental Factors with Sleep Problems

Sometimes we effortlessly drift to sleep. Other times, you might toss and turn for hours before falling asleep. It is also noteworthy that some people naturally struggle with sleeplessness, while others doze off effortlessly. Perhaps the explanation given for these differences in sleep is our genetic makeup and environmental parameters.

Considering this fact, this article explores the effects of our genetic makeup and the environment on sleep problems.


Besides the heritability of certain sleep traits such as insomnia, sleep apnoea, movement disorders, and sleep-wake state dissociation, and environmental factors also affect the impact and duration of sleep. Stressful life events are to blame for disturbed sleep. It is also worth noting that personal responses to these problems can further perpetuate sleep disorders.

Life events, motherhood, for instance, have been shown to have a significant effect on sleep. A closer look at dream feeding, a strategy employed to reduce night waking, demonstrates that conscious efforts can address environmentally-related sleep issues. Dream feeding is a way to reduce the waking of a baby by ensuring it is fed well, even while sleeping.


Researchers are constantly working towards establishing the effects of a person’s genetic makeup on sleep. Largely, the genetic influence on sleep is born from the heritability of certain sleep traits. This can be further emphasized by the general observation that there exist some familial sleep disorders.

A closer look at insomnia, the second-largest sleep disorder among humans, establishes that a handful of genes are associated with the condition. Sleep researchers have affirmed that indeed sleep is genetically controlled.

If you struggle to fall asleep, there are high chances that this problem has always been in your family line.