There are many possible causes of restless legs syndrome, including kidney failure, nerve disorders, vitamin and iron deficiencies, pregnancy, and some medications (such as antidepressants). Recent studies have shown a strong genetic link and researchers have been able to isolate a gene that may be responsible for at least 40% of all cases of the disorder.
Even if you’ve struggled with sleep problems for so long that it seems normal, you can still learn to sleep better. You can start by tracking your symptoms and sleep patterns, and then making healthy changes to your daytime habits and bedtime routine. If self-help doesn’t do the trick, you can turn to sleep specialists who are trained in sleep medicine. Together, you can identify the underlying causes of your sleeping problem and find ways to improve your sleep and quality of life.
^ Tranah, Gregory J.; Blackwell, Terri; Stone, Katie L.; Ancoli‐Israel, Sonia; Paudel, Misti L.; Ensrud, Kristine E.; Cauley, Jane A.; Redline, Susan; Hillier, Teresa A. (2011). "Circadian activity rhythms and risk of incident dementia and mild cognitive impairment in older women". Annals of Neurology. 70 (5): 722–732. doi:10.1002/ana.22468. ISSN 1531-8249.
Recent studies, however, have shown that several factors can interrupt this neurogenesis. These include stress and prolonged sleep deprivation (more than one day). The sleep disturbances encountered in AD could therefore suppress neurogenesis and thus impairing hippocampal functions. This would therefore contribute to diminished memory performances and the progression of AD. And progression of AD would aggravate sleep disturbances. It is a second vicious circle.
What to do: If you suspect you have a circadian rhythm disorder, take steps to get your body onto a regular sleep schedule. Choose a bedtime and wake-up time that work for you, and follow the same routine each day, even on weekends. This can be tough for those who have to get up early during the week but like to stay up later on weekends, but do your best to craft a compromise between your work week and weekend habits. The important thing is to avoid the trap of sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week, then suddenly shifting to late nights and late mornings on the weekends. This will inevitably leave you with insomnia on Sunday night, which in turn sets you up to start the week exhausted on Monday morning.