I am 26 years and have generally, at least for as long as I can remember, slept pretty poorly - maybe with the exception of childhood. I have been given several opinions about this by doctors, and was hoping that someone here with a little experience with sleep disorders might be able to help me. I don't know if much of my history is relevant to this, but in case there is a connection I thought I would just spell everything out:
Since early childhood (maybe around the age of 5) I had a tick twitching my eyelids, at times quite violently and seemingly without control. I still have this tick but can now control it quite well and would describe it as a very tangible, physical sensation, somewhere between an itch and something being caught in my eye, which is temporarily relieved when I twitch the eyelids. The description that Tourretes sufferers use to describe their symptoms, as well as sufferers of Restless Leg Syndrome, seem to match relatively closely with how I would describe it. It occurs in both eyes and is made noticably worse by stress and especially (more than the former) tiredness, although it is always present. Physical exhaustion, sex, meditation, distraction, and general positive emotions seem to alleviate it somewhat. The only way to remove the sensation is to close my eyes, then it disappears completely.
I was diagnosed with ADD during a pre-enrollment test given to all children in Germany prior to starting school. I was 5 at the time. Since I was always good at school and relatively well behaved I was never medicated and this was never further investigated. Throughout my life I have been told that I ask a lot of questions. So much so that I am bringing it up (seriously, it's a recurring theme...).
About 10 years ago (2-3 years into adolescence) I started occasionally experiencing an uncomfortable sensation in my toes, which would be temporarily alleviated by moving them. Warming up the toes (putting on socks for example) immediately relieves the sensation. While it might seem that this is related to my eye tick, I feel them as very distinct sensations. Unlike the tick in my eyelids, the toes are an uncomfortable sensation alleviated, not satisfied, by movement..
Aside from all this, I have, for as long as I can vividly remember (and I don't say that lightly) slept poorly. I generally take quite long to fall asleep, and usually require at least 8 hours of sleep to not feel fatigued during the day. If I sleep until rested, I will generally sleep 9 to 10 hours, without being particularly tired before going to bed. Clearing my mind of thought makes it very easy to fall asleep if I am stressed, but it does not seem to improve the quality of the sleep itself. After sleeping for 10 hours, I feel like I've "napped" for 10 hours, it doesn't feel rejuvinating at all. Girlfriends throughout the years, and my mother before that, have always commented that I talk a lot during sleep.
I also snore on occasion. When I do snore I notice that I sleep more poorly, and slightly better when I don't snore. The quality of my sleep improved somewhat with septoplasty 3 years ago (which improved airflow through my nose and reduced snoring/blockages). I have been told on one occasion that I stopped breathing for about 10 seconds during sleep. I rarely / occasionally (maybe several times a year) have dreams / semi-lucid sensations about being short of breath while asleep. That could just be my face in a pillow for all I know...
The condition which, to me, as a layman, seems best to explain my poor sleep quality and the sensation in my toes is Restless Leg Syndrome, although I have never experienced any desire or need to walk nor have I felt any phantom sensations in my leg. Sleep apnea might explain the very occasional shortness of breath but I have no reason to believe it occurs regularly enough to really affect the quality of my sleep throughout my life.
I'm looking forward to hearing your input What I'm really after is just an educated take on what, based on what I've described, I should look for. Is Restless leg syndrome a possibility? Should I go to one of those sleep labs? As a PhD student I'm not particularly loaded so I'd like to avoid the latter unless necessary...