Teen 'sleeping sickness' is bizarre, rare
April 12th, 2011
02:03 PM ET

Teen 'sleeping sickness' is bizarre, rare

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

A bizarre, but thankfully, rare disorder has received a lot of press in the past few months and one of my patients asked me about it this week worried that her son was sleeping too much and that he had “that sleeping sickness.”

Kleine-Levin syndrome is marked by recurrent periods of excessive sleepiness during which the patient can sleep for 24-48 hours, getting up only to urinate and often to eat.  In fact, other than hypersomnia, that is, the excessive sleepiness with long sleep times, this disorder is characterized by compulsive eating, called megaphagia, hypersexuality, and almost all patients have cognitive and mood dysfunction.

In 2005,  Dr. Isabelle Arnulf published a large case series of the 186 known cases worldwide.  The first known report of the disorder was more than 150 years ago.  We do not know what causes it, but approximately half of the reported cases were preceded by a mild infection such as a cold or gastroenteritis.  It is postulated that the infection then triggers an autoimmune reaction.  It usually presents during the teens or early 20s and it twice as common in males as in females.

The excessive sleepiness lasts more than two days and less than four weeks and is intermixed with long intervals of normal alertness.   The excessive sleepiness recurs at least once a year and is almost always accompanied cognitive dysfunction and irritability while the person is awake. The compulsive overeating and the hypersexuality were observed in only half the cases.  The average course of the disease was eight years.

There is no diagnostic test. Treatment with stimulants, anti-depressants and anti-seizure medications have all been disappointing.

The good news is that this is quite rare, and if, like my patient, you have a teenager who is seems to sleeping all the time, the explanation probably lies elsewhere.

Common causes of excessive sleepiness in teens or young adults:  sleep deprivation, circadian rhythm disturbance such as delayed sleep phase syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia and depression.

The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.

Filed under: Sleep

soundoff (665 Responses)
  1. Kenworth Truck Repair Shop

    I blog often and I really thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.


    May 29, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Construction Truck Repair Shop Near Me


    May 29, 2021 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Plumber Truck Repair Shop Near Me

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 29, 2021 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Chevrolet High Top Van Repair


    May 29, 2021 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Rv Wrap Shop Near Me

    After looking into a number of the articles on your web page, I honestly appreciate your way of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site too and tell me your opinion.


    May 29, 2021 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Internet Marketing Specialist

    Hello! I just would like to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you have here on this post. I am returning to your web site for more soon.


    May 30, 2021 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Google Marketing Agency


    May 30, 2021 at 06:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mack Truck Repair Repair Shop Near Me


    May 30, 2021 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 08 Sprinter Intake PRT Repair


    May 30, 2021 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Repair And Service Near Me

    Very good article. I will be facing many of these issues as well..


    May 31, 2021 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Plumbing Repair Near Me

    You have made some really good points there. I looked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


    May 31, 2021 at 01:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Repair Near Me Now

    After I initially commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a means you are able to remove me from that service? Many thanks!


    May 31, 2021 at 02:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Digital Marketing Firms


    May 31, 2021 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Chassis Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Windshield Replacement Shop Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 07:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Limo Van Repair Shop


    May 31, 2021 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Digital Marketing Agencies Near Me

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. There's no doubt that that you need to write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but typically folks don't speak about these subjects. To the next! Kind regards!!


    May 31, 2021 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Authorized Sprinter Repair Facility


    May 31, 2021 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Emergency Vehicle Repair Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Chevrolet Cargo Van Repair Shop Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Camper Van Repair Shop Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv body shop near me

    Excellent post. I'm dealing with some of these issues as well..


    June 1, 2021 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. windshield repair fullerton


    June 1, 2021 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Rv Technician Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Efren Jazwa


    June 1, 2021 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Shan Bloschichak

    Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to generate a good article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get nearly anything done.


    June 1, 2021 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. truck collision repair near me


    June 1, 2021 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Leora Tulloch

    Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a top notch article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don't seem to get anything done.


    June 1, 2021 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Eldora Umholtz


    June 2, 2021 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. rv camping in orange county ca


    June 2, 2021 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. fiberglass repair shop near me

    May I just say what a relief to discover someone that actually knows what they're talking about on the web. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you're not more popular since you definitely possess the gift.


    June 2, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Company Van Repair Shop

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always useful to read through articles from other writers and practice a little something from other websites.


    June 2, 2021 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Lionel Rochelle


    June 2, 2021 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. paint shops near me

    Hi there! I just wish to give you a huge thumbs up for the excellent info you have here on this post. I am coming back to your blog for more soon.


    June 2, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Emory Jauch

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It's the little changes that will make the most important changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 2, 2021 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Leonel Leab

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you need to write more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don't speak about such topics. To the next! Many thanks!!


    June 2, 2021 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Video Marketing Service


    June 2, 2021 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Frame Repair Shop

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I really hope to check out the same high-grade content from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own website now 😉


    June 2, 2021 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Conversion Shop Near Me

    I seriously love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own personal blog and would like to find out where you got this from or what the theme is called. Thanks!


    June 3, 2021 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. rv washing near me


    June 3, 2021 at 03:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Social Media Marketing Agency

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and also the rest of the site is also really good.


    June 3, 2021 at 03:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Social Media Marketing Agencies Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair Orange County

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand why I cannot join it. Is there anyone else getting similar RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 3, 2021 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. SEO Marketing Services

    Excellent article. I absolutely love this website. Thanks!


    June 3, 2021 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 2006 Sprinter Transmission Repair


    June 3, 2021 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Sprinter Mercedes Service


    June 3, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. box truck repair shop

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you need to write more on this subject, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people don't speak about such topics. To the next! Kind regards!!


    June 3, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. rv leak detection

    Howdy! This article could not be written any better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will send this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thanks for sharing!


    June 3, 2021 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. auto paint shop orange county


    June 3, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. 2003 Sprinter Ac Repair


    June 3, 2021 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Leave a Reply to 08 Sprinter Intake PRT Repair


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.