Unlike what the fairytale could have you think, the so-called “Sleeping Beauty syndrome” is a serious and debilitating illness. Scientists who study sleep-related phenomena refer to it by the name given to the disease by those who first discovered it, or as the Kleine-Levin Syndrome (1925 and 1936). The disease continues to be incurable, although it usually goes into spontaneous remission.
The syndrome consists in a very rare neurological disorder that affects less than 2,000,000 individuals worldwide. People who suffer from KLS experience episodes of hypersomnia (drowsiness and incredibly long sleeping spells) that can last even more than 20 hours, although there are also reports of a case in which a person with KLS was in a state of sleep for 2 months. KLS primarily targets males (70% of the reported cases), 4 out of 5 of whom are adolescents. This syndrome is often accompanied by eating disorders, a sense of inadequacy, apathy and in some cases, abnormal sexual behavior.
The episodes of prolonged sleep are usually concentrated in 10-15 days every 4 months.
Can KLS be cured?
Although there is no known cure for the disease, it normally goes into spontaneous remission around the age of 30. Once a person with KLS overcomes the syndrome, he/she can return to a normal life.
The problems experienced by people with KLS
This disease causes multiple problems. First of all, it’s important to understand that if the disease manifests itself during a person’s formative years, it can seriously affect their ability to complete high school and therefore, also their future professional career. Also, quite often, after a prolonged sleeping spell, the person’s mental faculties and memory are somewhat impaired, usually for a limited period of time. The long periods of inactivity deteriorate the person’s muscle tone and, in some cases, can even cause sores due to the lack of movement.
KLS and other similar pathologies
Diagnosing KLS is not a simple task because there are other similar diseases that it is often mistaken with, such as Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS), narcolepsy, or idiopathic and catamenial hypersomnia.
So, it turns out that sleeping is not enjoyable to everyone; for some people, it can even turn out to be a true nightmare.