Among the various sleep disorders, there are some that are so rare that they are barely seen it all. One of these is called Kleine Levin Syndrome. It is more than just a sleep disorder; it is a syndrome that affects many aspects of a person’s life. More than 70% of all people who have Kleine Levin Syndrome are males, and most of them tend to be adolescents when this is first diagnosed.
What Is Kleine Levin Syndrome?
This is considered to be a rare disorder that has its primary symptom to be an excessive need for sleep. Many young men in particular who suffer from this syndrome will sleep up to 20 hours per day and still feel tired.
What is interesting about Kleine Levin Syndrome is that it is episodic, which means that it can last for a couple of days or several weeks, before going away for months at a time. There does not seem to be any reason as to why it comes and goes. Therefore, it is very difficult to predict.
What Are The Symptoms?
The symptoms of Kleine Levin Syndrome can often be mistaken for other health issues or behavioral issues. The primary symptom of this syndrome is an excessive need for sleep which is often very upsetting or disruptive to the rest of the family.
When this syndrome occurs in teenage boys, parents may think that they are having behavioral issues when in fact it is considered to be a brain disorder.
In addition to excessive need for sleep, this is usually followed by an uninhibited sex drive that may be abnormal in nature along with hallucinations, childlike behavior, irritability, overall disorientation, and an excessive food intake.
In short, it feels as if people are completely out of control after they go through this hibernation period.
What Are The Long-Term Effects Of This Condition?
Thankfully, Kleine Levin Syndrome tends to go away over the course of 8 to 12 years in most people and rarely does it exist longer than that. In fact, most young men who experience this syndrome will no longer have the symptoms after they are done with adolescence.
Obviously, during the period of time when the symptoms are going on, there are serious repercussions for a person who is suffering from it. First of all, they will have an excessive need for sleep which can affect school, work, and family relations.
Other members of the family who live in a household with someone who has Kleine Levin Syndrome may become frustrated or upset with the need for silence in the home while this is occurring.
There is also the issue of excessive sexual drive and unusual behavior that occurs after the period of sleep. It is not unusual for young men to put on weight during this period of time or get themselves in trouble sexually, which they may later regret.
It is particularly important for parents of people who suffer from this syndrome to pay close attention to them both during their hibernation time and afterward.
What Kind Of Treatment Options Are There?
There are a number of different therapies available to people who suffer from this disorder, including behavioral therapies, talk therapies, and even medications. Since this is a problem that is generally considered to be short-term and affects adolescent males in general, there is not a lot of research being done.
However, treatments that are currently being provided include the use of amphetamines to reduce sleepiness and appetite suppressant to reduce hunger during the recovery.
Some recent research has been done that is using various anti-convulsant drugs which are normally used for people with epilepsy. This type of drug can help reduce some of the compulsive behavior that occurs, but does not necessarily help with the sleeping aspect of this disorder.
Is There Anything Else You Need To Know?
The Stanford University Center for Narcolepsy is considered to be one of the premier centers for research on this particular syndrome. If you or someone you know suffers from Kleine Levin Syndrome, then this is certainly a very good resource.
Not only are there studies being currently done on patients, but new treatment methods are being utilized to help reduce the number of episodes that people have and the extent of their behavioral symptoms.
As this syndrome is caused by a chemical imbalance within the brain, it is recognized as a brain disorder. Hence, it is important for family members and friends to be patient and understanding towards the person who has this syndrome.
Last Updated 2 Aug 2013
1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (Accessed 2 Aug 2013)
2. Rare Diseases (Accessed 2 Aug 2013)
3. KLS Foundation (Accessed 2 Aug 2013)