The sleeping beauty illness is also known as the Kleine-Levin syndrome, named after the two people who first found out about this illness. It is a neurological disorder, wherein the patient sleeps throughout the day and the night, while experiencing recurring bouts of altered behavior. They wake up only to eat or go to the bathroom.
During the initial onset of the condition, patients have been known to complain of extreme drowsiness and fatigue. The altered behavior involves many losing touch with reality and not being aware of their surroundings. Many have been reported to act childlike, while some seem disoriented, confused, and apathetic or lacking emotion.
This condition usually affects males more than females and it can affect anybody, between 6-59 years of age. The average age of onset of this condition is believed to be from 15 years onwards among males, while females experience the first episode when they are around 17 years or older. Let us discuss the sleeping beauty syndrome in detail.
- Hypersomnia is predominantly the main symptom of this illness.
- The symptoms include unpredictable sleep cycles, wherein the patient can stay asleep for a few days, weeks or sometimes sleep continuously for months.
- These patients spend almost 18 hours asleep, and wake up only to eat or visit the toilet. They do not have a bath and forget to look after their hygiene to a large extent.
- The people who suffer from this illness often turn lethargic and are easily irritated.
- They turn emotionless and do not respond to questions, almost as if they are in a zombie state.
- They suffer from hallucinations and are perpetually in a dream state. So much so that they lose track of reality and can't make out if they have actually woken up or still stuck in a dream.
- They may suffer from bouts of amnesia and may not remember what happened the last time they woke up.
- They may develop bedsores on their skin because of the long hours they spend sleeping.
- They can become aggressive and even violent when prevented from sleeping. They usually cannot be woken up once they fall asleep.
- There is a drastic change in appetite noticed among KLS cases, wherein they have been reports of patients hogging on food. Their intake is 3-4 times more than their usual appetite, which is why these patients gain weight while suffering from this illness.
The overeating, the constant sleeping and absolutely no exercise makes them gain too much weight. All KLS patients suffer from large BMI. When not given enough food, these patients can get quite angry or upset, similar to how children behave when they are not given enough food.
- There have been reports that more than half of the KLS cases of male patients suffer from and display active traits of hyper sexuality. These traits include masturbating excessively, sexual advances and promiscuous behavior and statements.
This trait in not as visible in females, but chronic depression is a trait displayed by females suffering from KLS. Hyper sexuality traits in males suffering from this illness has often resulted in extended duration and cycles of the illness.
- While there is no exact reason as to why this illness occurs, it is believed to have some connection to imbalanced immunology.
- Patients believe that the disease was caused because of suffering from various forms of stress.
- Experts think it could be because of sleep deprivation, stress, excessive drinking of alcohol and abuse of drugs such as marijuana.
- Genealogy also seems to have a role in developing KLS, where the involvement of human leukocyte antigen and hereditary immunity traits are being researched upon.
- Experts think that sleeping beauty syndrome may have a lot to do with autoimmune disorder, which causes the immune system to become overactive and causes the brain and the body to attacks itself.
- The deficiency of dopamine too is believed to be causing this illness. This hormone regulates the normal function of the nervous system and is responsible for regulating tension and shock experienced by the brain and the body.
- The malfunction of the hypothalamus has also been linked to the development of this disease. This part of the brain is responsible for regulating sleep, appetite and the body's temperature.
There is no known cure for the sleeping beauty illness. The average duration for which this disease persists is about 4-8 years, after which the patient seems to get cured completely. There are very few cases wherein a relapse has been reported. These patients need to be treated with a lot of patience and sympathy.