To analyze the association between sleep-related symptoms and sleep length in parents and their children in relation to other risk factors in both generations.
The participants were parents (n = 5,855, age 54.3 ± 6.5 years, 45.2% men) who participated in the community-based Respiratory Health in Northern Europe (RHINE) study and one random member of their adult offspring (n = 5,855, age 30.2 ± 7.7 years, 41.5% men) who participated in the Respiratory Health in Northern Europe, Spain and Australia (RHINESSA) study. Both generations responded to identical questionnaires on sleep symptoms, including difficulty initiating sleep (DIS), difficulty maintaining sleep (DMS), early morning awakening (EMA), snoring, nocturnal sweating, nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux (nGER), sleep time and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Insomnia was defined as either, or both, DIS and DMS in combination with EDS.
All sleep variables except nocturnal sweating were more common in offspring whose parents had reported the same symptom. After adjusting for age, gender, BMI, smoking, physical activity, education, center and parents’ total number of children, there were independent associations between sleep symptoms in parents and offspring for DIS (adj. OR, 95% CI: 1.52, 1.20-1.93), DMS (1.34, 1.15-1.56), snoring (1.45, 1.15,1.83), nGER (1.65, 1.15-2.37), insomnia (1.39, 1.13-1.73), short sleep time (<6 h/night) (2.51, 1.72-3.68) and EDS (1.48, 1.26,1.72). There were no independent relationships between symptoms in parents and offspring for EMA, nocturnal sweating or long sleep time (>9 h/night).
The familiar aggregation of many sleep disturbances was not explained by investigated lifestyle and environmental factors. This supports a heritable factor in sleep problems.

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