A 15-year-old girl in the UK has just woken from two months of almost solid sleep due to an extremely rare medical condition. Stacey Comerford from Shropshire in the UK is one of just 1,000 people alive to suffer from Kleine-Levin syndrome, commonly known as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. The disorder means she sleeps for 20 hours a day for weeks at a time. When she awakes during these ‘episodes’, her mother Bernie says she’s in a trance, barely able to sip water or get any food down.
Since being diagnosed, the straight-A student has lost 12 kg, and has only been able to attend 30 per cent of her classes. She even slept through nine school exams and her own birthday. Bernie, a full time mother of six, said her daughter’s condition is taking a huge toll. “There’s never any warning. I’ve even found her fast asleep on the kitchen floor,” she said. “When she wakes, she thinks it’s the following day. She doesn’t have any memory of it.”
At first doctors thought Stacey was simply a ‘moody teenager’, but after months of tests ruling out a brain tumour, narcolepsy and epilepsy, she was finally diagnosed with the rare disease. It was a long road for Stacey who was falling asleep in class and sleeping across entire weekends. At one stage Stacey’s mother had to drag her feet out of the car to get her into the doctor’s surgery.
Now, that the disease has finally been diagnosed, the family can finally begin to cope with the condition, and learn to deal with its side effects, which have severely affected Stacey’s temperament. “She needs reassurance during an episode. It’s like she reverts back to being five years old. When she talks, she sounds like a child,” said Bernie. There’s no known cure for Kleine-Levin syndrome, but doctors expect Stacey to simply grow out of it.
What is Kleine-Levin syndrome?
KLS is a disease of adolescence, and sometimes will begin after infection or illness. There is no known cause or cure for the sleeping disorder.