Rare Klein-Levin Hibernation Disorder
Klein-Levin Hibernation Syndrome is a rare disorder that can create excessive amounts of sleep, sometimes up to bouts of 20 hours or more, per day. This disorder usually affects adolescents, mostly males.
Symptoms range from needing excessive amounts of sleep to behavioral changes. Diagnosed patients have bouts of sleep, and then wake to eat excessively. When they are awake, they may experience irritability, lethargy, and/or have a lack of emotions (apathy). This disease can also create hallucinations and confusion.
Klein-Levin Syndrome, or KLS, can last for days to weeks, depending on the individual case. In some cases, the symptoms may eventually disappear, with advancing age, however episodes may recur later in life.
The exact cause of Klein-Levin is not known, although researchers think (in some cases), heredity factors may be the cause of a portion of the cases to have a genetic predisposition to developing the disorder.
Researchers thought that symptoms might be related to the portion of the brain that regulates functions such as sleep, appetite, and the body temperature of the person. They also believe this could be an autoimmune disorder, affecting the immune system and leaving patients wide open for a gamut of diseases and illnesses.
"Affected individuals may go for a period of weeks, months, or even years without experiencing any symptoms, and then they reappear with little warning. In between episodes, those diagnosed with KLS appear to be in perfect health with no evidence of behavioral or physical dysfunction. However, they function daily with the frightful reality that they could become sick again at any moment. KLS episodes may continue to reoccur for a decade or longer with devastating effects on the adolescent's life and family. KLS robs children and young adults of big pieces of their lives, one agonizing episode at a time", reports the KLS Foundation.
"Klein-Levin Syndrome episodes are cyclical. When present, KLS symptoms persist for days, weeks, or even months, during which time all normal daily activities stop. Individuals are not able to attend school, work, or care for themselves. Most are bedridden, tired and uncommunicative even when awake. Not everyone affected by KLS exhibits all of the symptoms stated above."
The KLS Foundation also reports that when the KLS patient is awake, their whole demeanor has changed. Those affected often appear childlike and "spacey". They tend to be hypersensitive to light and noise.
One such case of KLS was reported this year when an adolescent female, Louisa Ball, was recovering from the flu in 2008, bringing about prolonged periods of sleep. These sleep patterns were initially thought to be of a hormonal nature until she was diagnosed with KLS in 2009.
She began falling asleep at school and was rambling about things that didn't make sense, almost as if she were talking in her sleep.
Louisa's sleeping episodes began to stretch to ten days at a time. During her sleeping bouts, her parents would have to wake her once a day to feed her and take her to the bathroom, before she would fall back asleep for hours.