maintaining a healthy sleep routine

Woman sleeping

Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

Imagine going to sleep tonight and waking up on January 2nd. You’ve missed the turkey, the gifts, the outfits, the eating, the drinking, all of it. Perhaps, you are thinking, that would be great! You’ve saved yourself a ton of calories, had an excuse for not seeing in-laws, and still had a ton of gifts to open. But you probably would have liked to have a choice in the matter. For sufferers of Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS) this is often not the case. Often referred to as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, KLS is a rare neurological disorder, most commonly characterized by long periods of sleep, causing individuals to lose large chunks of their lives and affecting the lives of those around them.

What is KLS?
In addition to excessive sleeping, symptoms of KLS can include a reduced understanding of circumstances and altered behavior on the part of the patient. While adolescents are most likely to be targets for the disorder, it can also strike adults and young children.

When a KLS episode sets in, the patient will experience hypersomnolence, a condition which will cause the patient to become increasingly drowsy and sleep for most of the time, waking only to eat and use the bathroom. These episodes can last days, weeks, or months, and preclude all normal daily activity, such as work and school and make self care impossible. In the time between the episodes, the sufferer may appear to be perfectly healthy with no physical or behavioral problems whatsoever. In total, the condition can last for 10 years or more.

Identification of KLS
Aside from excessive sleep, people with KLS will often seem childlike or “spacey.” He or she can become confused, lethargic, apathetic, and disoriented. The patient may claim that things look out of focus and will become hypersensitive to light and noise. Sometimes, those with the disorder will develop deep cravings for food. Hypersexuality is another reported symptom.

When KLS episodes are in effect, the patient will usually remain bedridden and appear uncommunicative when awake. Although most will not be able to carry out regular activities, not every sufferer is affected by the same symptoms.

It is possible for a person to go for weeks or even years without evidence of the symptoms, but the symptoms can return with out warning, The diagnosed can appear to be in perfect health one day, but there is always an underlying threat that he or she will fall into dysfunction the next. The diagnostic delay for KLS diagnosis is four years, which means it can take up four years for a patient to receive an accurate diagnosis and there is no medical test to definitively confirm the condition. However, if you believe you may be affected, there is a symptom checker developed by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders.

KLS Symptom Checker
A KLS patient would have recurrent episodes of hypersomnia lasting 2-31 days and one or more of the following:

  • Cognitive abnormalities like confusion, unreality and hallucination
  • Odd behavior like aggression or irritability
  • Binge Eating
  • Hypersexuality.

While there is no definitive cure treatment for KLS, modafinil may shorten the episodes, but not the recurrence. Lithium and carbamazapine can be beneficial in treatment of some of the symptoms, but no medication has proven to be a consistently successful.

If you feel that you may be suffering from KLS, it is important to reach out to a professional. If you or a loved one has been affected by this condition, please feel free to start a conversation here. Awareness is critical to problem solving.

Woman sleeping

Maintaining A Healthy Sleep Routine

If you’re not overly motivated, a good night’s sleep may be your greatest accomplishment. After all, it is no small feat. From the various available products to the barrage of commercials and helpful apps and websites devoted to the subject, it is obvious that not everyone is capable of peaceful somnolence. So, if you’re one of the lucky ones who has just engaged in 8 or 9 hours of uninterrupted rest, pat yourself on the back! You are quite the achiever!

What You Accomplish During Sleep
The list of things your body does during sleep is quite lovely. During Stages 3 and 4 of sleep, our muscles relax and our blood pressure drops. There is an increase of blood supply to the muscles, repair, and growth of tissue takes place, the body experiences a restoration of energy, and the growth hormone is released. Sleep gives our brains and bodies energy and helps us to perform our daily activities. Plus, you have some really cool dreams!

Sleep Hygiene And Becoming A Successful Sleeper
Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe your habits associated with sleep. To maintain good sleep hygiene, you should:

  1. Keep your sleep schedule consistent. Try to set your body clock to waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, even on your days off.
  2. Establish a bedtime ritual that helps you relax. Avoid bright lights excitement, sound, and stress. Reading can be incredibly sleep-inducing.
  3. If you are among the sleep deprived, try and curb your desire to nap. It may help get through the day, but it is equally as likely to make you less sleepy at night.
  4. Exercise every day, but not when you should be sleeping. Exercising lowers blood pressure and stress and makes sleep easier.
  5. Keep your sleeping environment comfortable, The optimum temperature for a good sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees. Make sure your room is dark. Blackout curtains can be very effective and very cool. The atmosphere should be free from disruption, If your spouse is snoring, gently push them off the bed. (only kidding)
  6. Make sure your mattress is comfortable. If it’s over 8, it’s time to replace. Consider throwing some nice fluffy pillows on your bed, make sure to avoid allergens, and don’t leave your heels where you might trip over them.
  7. The right amount of light is important in maintaining circadian rhythms. Get some sunlight in the morning and avoid it in the evening.
  8. No alcohol, spicy foods, and coffee before sleeping. If your feel hunger may keep you awake, you can allow yourself a nice light snack 45 minutes before turning in.
  9. Keep any stressful work-related devices and thoughts separate from your sleep routine. Light from electronic devices can stimulate the brain and keep you awake.
  10. If you are having a hard time slipping into a dream state, go into another room and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel tired.

And, to think, your mother told you-you would never accomplish anything!