Blame Your Parents If You Can't Sleep At Night. Here's Why

If you have a tough time drifting off to sleep, or you wake up throughout the night, you might be taking after your mother, according to a study published in Sleep Medicine. Both moms and dads can have bouts of insomnia or nighttime restlessness, but researchers from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom found that insomnia can only be inherited through the maternal side (via Best Life).

A 2017 study of 191 children ages 7 to 12 found a connection between mothers' insomnia symptoms and their children's sleep patterns. Researchers asked both parents to complete the Insomnia Severity Index to assess their symptoms. The index includes questions about how often respondents have difficulty falling and staying asleep, whether they wake up too early, and to what extent their sleep interferes with their daily functions, such as feeling fatigued, irritable, or unfocused throughout the day.

The researchers also monitored the children using in-home sleep electroencephalograms, or EEGs (via Sleep Medicine). The researchers found that children whose mothers had insomnia had sleep problems, too, including taking longer to fall asleep, waking up later, and less overall sleep time. The children also had more "stage 2" sleep, where the body produces rapid and rhythmic brain wave activity, and less slow-wave sleep or deep sleep (via VeryWell Health). Slow-wave sleep occurs most often in young children and "markedly decreases with age," according to the Encyclopedia of Sleep. Insomnia on the fathers' side didn't have a similar effect on the children, the study says.

Minor changes during the day can improve your sleep habits

In addition, the researchers noted that both mothers and fathers who reported insomnia symptoms during the study might have a skewed perception of their children's "bedtime resistance," daytime sleepiness, waking up during the night, and "sleep anxiety" (via Sleep Medicine). The researchers pointed out that children echoing their mothers' insomnia could be a combination of genetics and environment, or picking up on their mothers' sleep habits.

To improve your sleep, recommends implementing small changes throughout the day. For instance, set a fixed wake-up time, monitor your caffeine and alcohol intake while you're awake, find time to exercise, don't nap for too long or too late in the day, and don't eat late at night. Wind down for at least 30 minutes before bedtime by stretching, reading, or listening to soothing music — and disconnect from your tablet, smartphone, and laptop. Lastly, create a sleep-inducing bedroom with an agreeable temperature (not too hot or too cold); no light disruptions; eliminating or reducing distracting noise; and using a quality mattress, pillows, and bedding.