Genetic link to sleepwalking

10 February 2011

Sleepwalking is a widespread phenomenon, particularly during childhood, and can potentially put sufferers in dangerous situations. It had previously been known that the condition was heritable, but it had not been linked to a particular chromosome or region. Since this study is a small-scale one within a family of particularly severe sleepwalkers though, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the genomic region identified here is responsible for the condition in those with less severe or variant forms of the disorder. The researchers themselves point out that since other studies have shown different inheritance patterns, it is likely that sleepwalking has a number of genetic causes. Further studies will be required to determine how widely applicable these findings are, and also to identify the specific genes involved and the underlying mechanism before this work can point to possible therapies.