Researchers say there could be a link between sleep disorder and some medical conditions like obesity and schizophrenia.

“This clinical science is an important step in understanding the biological basis for these conditions, so it’s very exciting,” said Martin Rutter, a doctor at the University of Manchester and co-author of the study.

The senior lecturer in cardiometabolic medicine added that “scientists have long observed a connection between sleep disorders and these conditions in epidemiological studies. But this is the first time these biological links have been identified at a molecular level”.

The research, which was published in Nature Genetics, a journal, had more than 112,000 respondents.

Researchers from the University of Manchester and Massachusetts general hospital examined the respondents’ mapped genes in search of links to their reported sleep habits.

Sleep problems like insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness were identified and linked to medical conditions, such as restless legs syndrome, schizophrenia and obesity.

Richa Saxena, a co-author of the study said, “It’s important to remember there is no molecular targeting available for conditions which affect sleep: all we really have are sedatives. So we hope that this research will enable scientists to develop new ways to intervene on a range of conditions in a much more fundamental way”.

Saxena is an assistant professor of anesthesia at Massachusetts general hospital and Harvard medical school.



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