Sleeping beauty syndrome, also known as Kleine-Levin syndrome or KLS, it is a neurological disorder distinguished by returning periods of excessive amounts of sleep and changed behavior. This disorder usually affects teenagers, but it is very rare. The patients suffering from sleeping beauty syndrome may sleep continuously for days, weeks or even months. This rare disease has enormous consequences on normal living. During the episode, all normal activities stop. Adolescents may miss the school exams or holidays due to this incurable disorder. Patients often feel very depressed about the fact they are missing the great part of their lives while sleeping. The disease is stressful for their parents and caregivers who live in constant fear that their child may die of hunger while sleeping. The disease strikes more males than females and the average age of onset is 15.7 years.
Symptoms of sleeping beauty syndrome
At the onset of one episode, patients suffering from sleeping beauty syndrome are sleepy and may even sleep for the most of the day and night. Patients are usually waking up to eat food and go to the bathroom, but their normal behavior significantly changes when they are awake. While awaken, during the episode, patients seem to be childlike, confused, disoriented, lethargic and they show no emotions. Patients are often hypersensitive to sounds and light and they have severely increased appetite and unusual food cravings. During the episode, patients won’t be selective about the food they eat. They will usually eat even the food they normally avoid. The episodes are also characterized by instances of uninhibited hyper-sexuality, inappropriate sexual behavior, and excessive masturbation.
Causes of sleeping beauty syndrome
Basically, the disease results from a malfunction of the part of the brain that regulates sleep, appetite, and body temperature. Scientists are not quite sure what causes this malfunction. Some of them believe it is a hereditary disorder while the others believe it is an autoimmune disorder. New evidence introduces the possibility that this disease is caused by a deficiency of dopamine transporter density in the lower striatum.
Treatment for sleeping beauty syndrome
This is an incurable disease, as there is no definitive cure or treatment available for it. Doctors may prescribe different stimulants such as amphetamines, Methylphenidate, and modafinil, to treat sleepiness. However, these medicines are ineffective in improvement of altered mental states. Approximately 90 percent of all patients will recover from the disease once they reach their twenties. Scientists still don’t know how exactly works this self-recovery mechanism.