Teens often sleep more than adults, but as recently featured on The Today Show, an English girl suffers from a rare disorder that makes her a real-life sleeping beauty.
Just 15 years old, Louisa Ball can spend days and even weeks asleep. She is afflicted with a rare neurological disorder called Kleine-Levin syndrome that is known to affect only a few thousand people in the world. Its cause is not known. The syndrome is characterized by hypersomnia, or an excessive desire to sleep and time spent sleeping, that occurs episodically. There can be other associated symptoms including: confusion, apathy, hallucinations, depression, and even hypersexuality. The afflicted person may briefly awaken during the spells, but seems to be in an almost dream-like state.
The hardest part for Ms. Ball's family is keeping her weight up during her prolonged sleeping episodes, as she is reluctant to eat or drink. As she dozes, her life slips past her, just like in a fairytale.
The disease course can be quite varied, with intermittent long periods of sleeping, but most people with Kleine-Levin syndrome grow out of it in a matter of years. In some cases, the disorder may last decades however, which makes one wonder whether historical cases may have been the inspiration for the children's stories of Sleeping Beauty and Rip Van Winkle.
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