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Kleine-Levin Syndrome

Kleine-Levin syndrome (KLS) is a sleep disorder that is characterized by recurring episodes of excessive sleep. Most often an affliction that affects adolescent males, the episodes may come out of nowhere and affect your loved one for a few days or a few weeks. In some cases, flu-like symptoms may also come with the sleep episodes. In between episodes, your loved one may appear “normal” and weeks may pass before the next episode begins.

Sleep Episode Effects of Kleine-Levin Syndrome

Sleep episodes vary in length from two to 31 days, and they can seem to occur abruptly, with little warning. Patients may experience a number of symptoms or issues when in a sleep episode brought on by Kleine-Levin syndrome. Your loved one with Kleine-Levin syndrome may be:

  • Irritable
  • Excessively hungry
  • Childish in behavior
  • Disoriented
  • Uninhibited sexually
  • Aggressive

In general, behavior that is odd for your loved one becomes the norm during a sleep episode brought on by Kleine-Levin syndrome. Because the disorder is cyclical in nature, long periods of time may lapse in between the sleep episodes in which your loved one seems to be perfectly fine and symptom free.

*What Causes Kleine-Levin Syndrome?

Medical professionals believe that symptoms of Kleine-Levin syndrome may be caused by the parts of the brain that control hunger and sleep – the hypothalamus and the thalamus.

*Kleine-Levin Syndrome Quick Facts

  • Kleine-Levin syndrome is a rare disorder.
  • 70 percent of those diagnosed with Kleine-Levin syndrome are male.
  • Those with the disorder may sleep up to 20 hours per day.
  • In between episodes, those with Kleine-Levin syndrome may appear “normal.”
  • Patients often have no memory of their behavior during sleep episodes.

*Kleine-Levin Syndrome Is Also Known As…

  • Kleine-Levin hibernation syndrome
  • Familial hibernation syndrome
  • Periodic somnolence and morbid hunger

Treatment for Kleine-Levin Syndrome

Finding treatment for your loved one when they are struggling with Kleine-Levin syndrome is not easy. There is no one treatment that works for everyone without fail. It may take a period of trial and error to determine the right way to deal with the issue. In some cases, stimulant medications that promote wakefulness may be indicated, but if it means an increase in irritability during the sleep episodes, the effect of treatment may be less desirable than the effect of the disorder.  Other medications have been shown to be helpful in preventing the onset of sleep episodes, but may not be indicated for everyone.

In some cases, sleep episodes that characterize Kleine-Levin syndrome may actually be a symptom of another mental health issue. In that case, treatment for that disorder may include psychotherapy as well as or instead of medication.

Individual treatment is definitely a “must” for your loved one if you believe Kleine-Levin syndrome is an issue.