Are Sleep Terrors Genetic?

Filed under: In The News

Newborn twins

Are nightmares genetic? A recent study seems to point that way. Nightmares, also known as sleep terrors, affect people from childhood through adulthood. Those affected suffer from waking in a panic, normally screaming, confusion and disorientation. I actually know someone, an adult and parent, with night terrors and I can say two things about them: one, no one should have to suffer them; and two, anyone who does have them wouldn't want their children to have them either.

The Quebec Newborn Twin Study examined the sleep habits of 390 sets of twins via surveys with their mothers. Identical twins share essentially all the same genes, whereas fraternal twins do not (they share about half). By studying both, researchers were able to ascertain what might be caused through genetics and what might be caused through environment. Over 36% of the children surveyed had sleep terrors. Research on the twins uncovered that at 18 months of age a child's risk of having sleep terrors as a result of something genetic was 43.7%. At 30 months, the risk was 41.5%.

I'm not sure how this occurred and the article didn't make it so clear either, but it's an interesting premise to consider. Because the research focused on feedback from the mothers rather than medical diagnosis, researchers noted the information should be taken at face value.

Do you believe that nightmares are genetic?
Yes - all sorts of behaviors are genetic..113 (40.5%)
Maybe, but i'm not really clear about why.94 (33.7%)
No - nightmares are caused by pizza and television.38 (13.6%)
Well now I'm worried what ELSE my kids inherited from me.34 (12.2%)

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.