You’ve heard the fairy tale about Sleeping Beauty, a princess who stayed asleep for a hundred years because of an evil curse. What you probably haven’t heard is this fictional sleeping curse has a real-life counterpart: the Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS).
KLS is a rare sleep disorder primarily seen in adolescents. Its exact causes are unknown, but some researchers speculate it may be the result of an autoimmune disorder, or deficiency in dopamine (the organic chemical that influences sleep) transportation within the brain. Some studies show hereditary disposition and genetics affect the likelihood of developing KLS.
Kleine-Levin Syndrome symptoms include excessive amounts of sleep (hypersomnia), increased food intake, and behavioral changes. Victims may spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping, often waking just to eat or go to the bathroom.
KLS sufferers often seem “spaced out” when awake, and may exhibit hypersexuality or increased sexual urges and activity. KLS is more common among males, who tend to exhibit hypersexuality more than females suffering from KLS do. Other behavioral changes include irritability and apathy.
It’s difficult to diagnose Kleine-Levin Syndrome, and most doctors and psychiatrists resort to diagnosis by exclusion to identify it. This means they must go through a list of other conditions mimicking the symptoms of KLS, and eliminate them one by one.
The lack of knowledge about KLS causes makes it difficult for researchers to come up with definitive treatment. Some treatments used for KLS include stimulants such as modafinil, methylphenidate, and amphetamines. Medication for bipolar disorder, like lithium and carbamazepine are also effective in warding off KLS symptoms.
If you know someone who sleeps too long and too often, you may want to consult a doctor for more information on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of this disorder. KLS is extremely rare, but it never hurts to be cautious.
Disclaimer: These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Always consult your physician regarding any sleeping disorders.