Seventeen-year-old Nicole Delien, dubbed the real-life "Sleeping Beauty," sleeps for up to 19 hours a day and once slept for 64 days straight. She has only been awake for Christmas three times since she was 7 years old. She may have earned the envy of insomniacs everywhere, but Delien is living more of a nightmare than a fairy tale.
Diagnosed with Kleine-Levin syndrome or KLS, the teen suffers from a rare disorder that affects a mere 1,000 people in the country. It is characterized by recurring periods of excessive sleep, which occur as "episodes," typically lasting from several days to a few weeks. The episodes can be punctuated with periods of disorientation, irritability and hallucinations. The state has been described as the delirium one feels when waking from anesthesia.
The onset of these bouts of sleep come abruptly. Delien says that she begins to feel tired, and then … sleep. She does not remember what happens during the episodes. As can be seen in the video below, she seems to be in a state somewhere in-between asleep and awake, much like the dreamy realm that sleepwalkers inhabit during their midnight perambulations.
The onset of the bizarre disorder occurred when Delien was 6.5 years old. According to the National Institutes of Health, the syndrome may be related to malfunction of the hypothalamus and thalamus, parts of the brain that govern appetite and sleep. The teen’s doctor suggests that the cause of the syndrome may somehow be triggered by illnesses or viruses.
Fortunately for the handful of miserable sleeping beauties in the world, the bad dream resolves itself; symptoms dissipate after eight years, on average, give or take six years. Good news for the teen? Indeed. Says Delien, “It’s not fun because you miss out on a lot.”
Watch a home video of Delien in the midst of an episode, and a recent interview in which she discusses her sleepy misery.
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