Genetic and environmental contributions to sleep-wake behavior in 12-year-old twins

Sletten, Tracey L., Rajaratnam, Shantha M. W., Wright, Margaret J., Zhu, Gu, Naismith, Sharon, Martin, Nicholas G. and Hickie, Ian (2013) Genetic and environmental contributions to sleep-wake behavior in 12-year-old twins. Sleep, 36 11: 1715-1722. doi:10.5665/sleep.3136

Author Sletten, Tracey L.
Rajaratnam, Shantha M. W.
Wright, Margaret J.
Zhu, Gu
Naismith, Sharon
Martin, Nicholas G.
Hickie, Ian
Title Genetic and environmental contributions to sleep-wake behavior in 12-year-old twins
Journal name Sleep   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0161-8105
Publication date 2013-11-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.5665/sleep.3136
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 36
Issue 11
Start page 1715
End page 1722
Total pages 8
Place of publication Westchester, IL United States
Publisher Associated Professional Sleep Societies
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Study Objectives:

To examine the role of genetic and environmental factors on sleep behavior in 12-year-old twins matched for family environment.

Population-based twin cohort.


Participants were assessed in their home environment.

Patients or Participants:

One hundred thirty-two adolescent twins comprising 25 monozygotic (MZ) and 41 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs; aged 12.2 ± 0.1 y (mean ± standard deviation).



Measurements and Results:

For 2 weeks in their home environment, participants wore a wrist activity monitor and completed a daily sleep diary. Sleep diaries included reports of bedtime, wake time, and estimated sleep onset time. Mean timing, duration, and quality of sleep during the 2 weeks were calculated for each individual and compared within twin pairs. MZ twin correlations were higher than the DZ correlations for total sleep time (MZr = 0.64; DZr = 0.38) and sleep onset latency (MZr = 0.83; DZr = 0.53) and significantly higher for wake after sleep onset (MZr = 0.66; DZr = 0.04) and sleep efficiency (MZr = 0.82; DZr = 0.10). Univariate modeling showed additive genetic factors accounted for 65% of the variance in total sleep time, 83% in sleep onset latency, and 52% and 57% of the variance in wake after sleep onset and sleep efficiency, respectively. A predominant influence of shared environment was found on the timing of sleep (67% for sleep start time, 86% for sleep end time).


There is a strong genetic influence on the sleep-wake patterns of 12-year-old adolescents. Genes have a greater influence on sleep initiation and sleep maintenance and a smaller role in sleep timing, likely to be influenced by family environment.
Keyword Adolescence
Environmental influences
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 7 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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