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Nightmares share genetic risk factors with sleep and psychiatric traits
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki, Finland ; Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, United States ; Program in Medical and Population Genetics, Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA, United States ; Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
Department of Genetics, School of Medicine, Stanford University, CA, United States.
Population Health, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland ; Department of Psychiatry and SleepWell Research Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki, Finland.
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2024 (English)In: Translational Psychiatry, E-ISSN 2158-3188, Vol. 14, no 1, article id 123Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nightmares are vivid, extended, and emotionally negative or negative dreams that awaken the dreamer. While sporadic nightmares and bad dreams are common and generally harmless, frequent nightmares often reflect underlying pathologies of emotional regulation. Indeed, insomnia, depression, anxiety, or alcohol use have been associated with nightmares in epidemiological and clinical studies. However, the connection between nightmares and their comorbidities are poorly understood. Our goal was to examine the genetic risk factors for nightmares and estimate correlation or causality between nightmares and comorbidities. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 45,255 individuals using a questionnaire-based assessment on the frequency of nightmares during the past month and genome-wide genotyping data. While the GWAS did not reveal individual risk variants, heritability was estimated at 5%. In addition, the genetic correlation analysis showed a robust correlation (rg > 0.4) of nightmares with anxiety (rg = 0.671, p = 7.507e−06), depressive (rg = 0.562, p = 1.282e−07) and posttraumatic stress disorders (rg = 0.4083, p = 0.0152), and personality trait neuroticism (rg = 0.667, p = 4.516e−07). Furthermore, Mendelian randomization suggested causality from insomnia to nightmares (beta = 0.027, p = 0.0002). Our findings suggest that nightmares share genetic background with psychiatric traits and that insomnia may increase an individual’s liability to experience frequent nightmares. Given the significant correlations with psychiatric and psychological traits, it is essential to grow awareness of how nightmares affect health and disease and systematically collect information about nightmares, especially from clinical samples and larger cohorts. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Nature, 2024. Vol. 14, no 1, article id 123
National Category
Medical Genetics Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology) Psychiatry Neurology
Research subject
Consciousness and Cognitive Neuroscience
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-23647DOI: 10.1038/s41398-023-02637-6ISI: 001178370100001PubMedID: 38413574Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85186201905OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-23647DiVA, id: diva2:1843029
Funder
Academy of Finland, 309643Academy of Finland, 290039NIH (National Institutes of Health), R01DK107859Academy of Finland, 265240Academy of Finland, 263278Academy of Finland, 308248Academy of Finland, 312073Academy of Finland, 336823EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, 201413Wellcome trust
Note

CC BY 4.0 DEED

© The Author(s) 2024

Correspondence Address: R. Saxena; Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, United States; email: rsaxena@broadinstitute.org; T. Paunio; Population Health, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland; email: tiina.paunio@helsinki.fi

This study has been supported by the Academy of Finland grants #309643 Ollila,#290039 Paunio, Hospital grant (EVO) TYH2019315 Paunio, and the CSC. The NIH R01DK107859 grant and MGH Research Scholar Award were used to support Saxena; a Department of Defense through a National Defense Science and Engineering Grant and a Stanford Graduate Fellowship for Nasa Sinnott-Armstrong, HC has been supported by Finska Läkaresällskapet. JK has been supported by the Academy of Finland (grants 265240, 263278, 308248, 312073, and 336823). Support for genotyping in the Finnish Twin Cohort has been provided by ENGAGE – European Network for Genetic and Genomic Epidemiology, FP7-HEALTH-F4-2007, grant agreement number 201413 and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Available from: 2024-03-07 Created: 2024-03-07 Last updated: 2024-04-15Bibliographically approved

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