Life for 17-year-old Louisa Ball is much different to most teens – Louisa regularly sleeps for a whole week out of each month.
The ‘attacks’ started with flu-like symptoms, which left Louisa feeling very tired. She said she had a “bad cold, temperature…and from then on, that’s when I started to sleep.” She regularly sleeps for 10 to 14 days solid, before waking up and eating huge amounts of food, such as whole packs of biscuits or 6 packets of crisps.
Her parents were very worried, and while her GP battled to discover what was wrong with her, her mother asked to be referred to a dietician. The only advice she could offer was to give Louisa smoothies, which would be easy to consume and give her all the necessary nutrients. During each sleep attack, Louisa can lose up to 10 pounds.
Sleep wasn’t the only issue – Louisa also started to suffer from violent mood swings, which her parents described as ‘scary’. They said the mood swings would be the only indication that their daughter was about to enter a sleep attack.
Doctors seemed baffled, and Louisa’s parents admitted wondering if she had taken something, before a consultant in London diagnosed Kleine-Levin Syndrome.
This relatively unknown condition tends to affect males, and usually begins in adolescence. The disorder disrupts the hypothalamus, which is responsible for sleep, appetite and libido. There are some treatments, such as lithium, which can help stabilise moods, but will not help with the extreme sleep.
For Louisa, her disorder has been life-changing. Sleeping for a solid week out of each month meant she fell behind at college, and even slept through her exams. She’s also missed holidays and family birthdays.
Luckily, her episodes are becoming less frequent, and Louisa recently went five months without having one. Some sufferers do grow out of KLS, which provides Louisa with hope. Until that happens, they are raising awareness of the condition, and fund-raising for the KSL Foundation in California which is currently trying to find a cure, according to ABCNews.