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April 2008

A Genetic Decomposition of the Association Between Parasomnias and Dyssomnias in 8-Year-Old Twins

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, and Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, England.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(4):299-304. doi:10.1001/archpedi.162.4.299

Objective  To estimate genetic and environmental influences on parasomnias and dyssomnias and their association in 8-year-olds.

Design  Parents of twins completed the Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire.

Setting  Families were primarily tested at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, England.

Participants  A total of 300 pairs of 8-year-old twins and their parents participated in the study.

Main Outcome Measures  Sleep difficulties in children.

Results  Individual differences in parasomnias and dyssomnias were largely explained by genes (accounting for 50% and 71% of the variances, respectively). The rest of the variances were mainly due to nonshared environmental influences. A moderate association was found between parasomnias and dyssomnias (r = 0.42), which was mainly accounted for by genetic influences (87%). The genetic correlation between parasomnias and dyssomnias was moderate (r = 0.61). In contrast, the nonshared environmental correlation was small (r = 0.10).

Conclusions  The decomposition of the association between parasomnias and dyssomnias suggests that there may be different manifestations of shared underlying genetic risks for sleep problems partly dependent on nonshared environmental influence.