Beth Goodier, 17, went to sleep and did not wake up for 6 months. Just before she was about to go to the university and become a child psychologist. This uncanny similarity to a childhood fairy tale can’t be disregarded.
In November five years ago, she fell asleep and slumbered on for almost 22 hours every day during a 6-month episode. She would wake up for some time in a trance-like state to eat some food and use the toilet. Beth is one of the victims of Kleine-Levin syndrome, also known as Sleeping Beauty syndrome. There are reported to be more than a 100 youngsters afflicted by the strange syndrome in Britain alone. The syndrome has no known cure yet.
Beth is 22 now.
As she told Daily mail her experiences:
“It is like night and day. She might wake up tomorrow and then it’s a race against time to live the life she should have had. She rushes off to catch up with her friends and get her hair done. But no one knows when she might fall asleep again.”
Named after Will Kleine and Max Levin who first described the disease in the 20th century, the sleep disorder leads to hypersomnia or excessive sleepiness and behavioural and cognitive changes. This experience is usually very traumatic for youngsters. There is a loss of memory and a sheer sense of helplessness. Migraine and hallucinations accompany the syndrome during which patients break down and exhibit childlike behaviour. The syndrome is also known to cause extreme hunger or heightened sexual urges upon waking up.
As Dr Guy Leschziner, a consultant neurologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust says,
In the past, milder cases were blamed on teens being lazy and swinging the lead. Otherwise, they were viewed as psychiatric cases or having symptoms of a bipolar disorder.They feel as if they are in a dream-like state very separate from the world around them. It has a massive impact on their lives. When they wake up and realise what they’ve missed, they may be depressed and anxious.While it’s not terminal, young people with KLS can see their lives slipping away in their most formative and important years