Sleep Problems? Neurological Problems May Be To Blame

It's easy to write off sleep problems. You might blame your sleep problems on drinking caffeine too late in the day, or on the stress you've been under at work. Stress and caffeine consumption can certainly interfere with sleep. However, sleep problems can also be caused by neurological issues. So, if you are having chronic trouble with sleep, you should see a neurologist to determine whether one of the following ailments are to blame.


Narcolepsy is a neurological condition in which the patient has low levels of a chemical called hypocretin, which is active in the nervous system and helps regulate sleep. People with narcolepsy have trouble staying awake during the day. They may fall asleep or nod off unexpectedly. Then, at night, they sometimes have trouble falling or staying asleep. Narcolepsy is fairly easy to diagnose in a sleep center, and once patients are diagnosed, they can receive effective treatment. Stimulant medications can help prevent bouts of sleepiness during the daytime. And for some patients, SSRIs help regulate sleep.


Sometimes, sleep problems are a symptom of mild epilepsy. This is primarily a seizure disorder, but it can also cause patients to feel very sleepy at times during the day. It can also cause them to wake up repeatedly during the night. People often figure that if they are not having serious seizures, they do not have epilepsy. However, some patients with epilepsy have really mild, absence seizures that are easy to ignore. Epilepsy can be diagnosed with a neurological exam, blood tests, and sometimes a sleep study. There are anti-seizure medications that can ease your symptoms, including the sleep troubles. Other therapies, like vagus nerve stimulation, may be helpful, too.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome isn't that well understood by doctors and researchers yet. However, it is thought to be a neurological disorder. Feelings of restlessness and tingling in your legs can wake you up repeatedly and make it harder to fall asleep in the first place. Treatments include medications to increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, along with muscle relaxers. Some patients may also benefit from antihistamine medications that promote sleep, such as diphenhydramine.

If you're having trouble sleeping more than once in a while, then it's a good idea to make an appointment with a neurologist in your area. They can see whether any of the conditions above are to blame for your struggles.