British boy with sleep disorder finally stays awake for first Christmas in 4 years

PHOTO: Facebook/Metro

LONDON - You've heard of a leap year, which happens once every four years. What about a leap Christmas?

That's essentially what happened to 12-year-old Connor Prince from Toton, Nottinghamshire.

The boy has Kleine-Levin Syndrome, a rare sleep disorder. He sleeps for three and a half months at a time, causing him to miss the past few Christmases, the Metro reported.

His mother, identified in reports as Dana, 44, said: "The last three years have put such a strain on the family, as we haven't been able to plan any holidays."

What an unforgiving illness. 😔

Posted by Metro on Thursday, December 29, 2016

According to the report, his family were "over the moon" when he stayed awake on Dec 25 to play on his Harry Potter chess board.

Connor, who was sickly as a child, first fell asleep for a week when he was nine, and his parents were unable to wake him up. From then on, he fell asleep for a number of days or longer, every few weeks.

During the prolonged slumbers, he would stay awake for a few minutes at a time to go to the bathroom or have a drink, albeit in a daze.

6 types of common sleep disorders

  • These are conditions in which the body's biological clock has been disrupted, leading to unstable or undesirable sleep-wake cycles.
  • Today, more people are also staying up late to play computer games, watch videos and movies, or communicate via their smartphones. This can disrupt their body clock.
  • Bright light therapy for patients with circardian sleep rhythm disorders can advance or delay sleep.
  • This is a condition in which a person wakes up many times in the night because of snoring and intermittent stoppage of breathing.Causes include narrowing of the airway at the back of the throat and behind the tongue during sleep.
  • This can be due to obesity, tonsillar enlargement or having too small an upper or lower jaw. If untreated, OSA not only leads to poor sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness, but also raises the odds of developing or worsening heart disease, stroke and hypertension
  • The most common and effective treatment for OSA is to use a continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP device, which involves wearing a pressurised mask over the nose or mouth during sleep to keep the upper airway open.
  • These include sleep walking, sleep talking and dream enactment. They are uncommon conditions which often run in the family but are also sometimes associated with neuro-degenerative conditions, such as Parkinson's disease.
  • Alcohol intake, stress or sleep deprivation can trigger these episodes. Management of these conditions includes avoiding these triggers and, in severe cases, medication.
  • One in five people complains of being unable to sleep or of waking up frequently at night.
  • Tackling this problem involves identifying and treating issues such as sleep apnoea, excessive noise or light, and practising good sleep habits, such as having a fixed bed time and avoiding caffeine four hours before going to bed.
  • Sufferers complain of uncomfortable, painful, cramping, itchy or often hard-to-describe sensations in the lower limbs associated with an urge to walk or shake the limbs, in the evening and before bedtime.
  • This is a rare condition caused by a deficiency of a special hormone in the brain which is required to regulate sleep and wakefulness.

In September 2013, Dana took voluntary redundancy as a lecturer to look after him, reported the Metro.

Despite her doctor's advice that Connor had chronic fatigue syndrome and just needed to be forced awake, she suspected there was something more.

In the days leading up to his sleeping episodes, Connor's appetite would grow and his limbs would ache. She researched the symptoms online and came across Kleine-Levin Syndrome.

She requested for Connor to visit the sleep clinic at Nottingham City Hospital, where he was diagnosed.

While it felt fantastic to finally know what was going on, it was also "a bitter pill to swallow", she told the Metro.

Dana, who hopes her son will grow out of the medical condition, said: "What upsets Connor is the bits that he misses, he feels so isolated and alone. He's losing so much for his life, it's devastating."

This article was first published on Dec 30, 2016.
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