Sleeping Beauty Syndrome – Diagnosis – Treatment

Sleeping beauty syndrome or also called Kleine-Levin syndrome is a rare disorder that causes a person to sleep excessively, up to 20 hours a day. Surprisingly, young men are at greater risk for this syndrome. There are approximately 70 percent of cases of sleeping beauty syndrome occurring in men. One of the common symptoms of sleeping beauty syndrome is the confusion experienced by the affected person.

The Causes

The exact cause of sleeping beauty syndrome is unknown. But there are some circumstances that can increase the risk of sleeping beauty syndrome in a person.

  • Injury to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that becomes the center of the autonomic nerves. It controls appetite, sleep, and body temperature.
  • Injury from falling or being hit on the head may increase the likelihood of developing sleeping beauty syndrome.
  • Infection is thought to trigger the occurrence of sleeping beauty syndrome.
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Genetic factors

Is hypersomnia the same as sleeping beauty syndrome?

Basically, hypersomnia is one of the clinical symptoms of sleeping beauty syndrome. Hypersomnia is an excessive sleeping condition that makes a person difficult to wake up the next morning and feel very tired. A person with sleeping beauty syndrome or hypersomnia will often be in a situation between sleep and awake.


The most noticeable symptom of sleeping beauty syndrome is the recurrence of an excessive sleep period (up to 20 hours per day). This period is often referred to as an episode. One episode normally lasts several days to several weeks. But the beginning of an episode can not be predicted, it can happen at any time. Other symptoms are :

  • The emergence of a strong drowsiness that encourages the desire to sleep. But for normal people, there are several steps on how to get rid of over sleeping.
  • Hard to get up in the morning.
  • The affected person may wake up, but only to eat or to the bathroom and then go back to sleep
  • Experiencing severe fatigue so that the patient will only lie in bed
  • An increased sexual drive. This symptom is more common in men than women. Some examples of such inappropriate actions are more frequent masturbation, pronouncing obscene words and sexually harassing acts.
  • Appetite may increase. The affected person usually eats in more quantities with a tendency to eat whatever is served. Food intake can increase to three times the normal amount, causing an increase in body weight from 3.2 to 13.6 kg. There are times when the affected person also craves certain foods.
  • Childish nature
  • Easily offended
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Depression. Normally depression is temporary and will stop by itself every single episode ends. But to note, research shows that some affected persons can feel anxious and panic when alone.

There is a possibility that these symptoms occur due to reduced blood flow to the brain. There is also an opinion that says the symptoms are related to abnormalities in the hypothalamus and thalamus. Both of them play a role in controlling sleep and appetite. 

A person with sleeping beauty syndrome can behave normally between episodes. Most affected persons are able to continue the routine without any physical or behavioral disturbance. But they may not remember what they have experienced during the episode. The distance between the last and the next episode can be weeks.


Sleeping beauty syndrome is quite difficult to diagnose and some people even experience a misdiagnosis. Doctors can misinterpret these symptoms as psychiatric disorders as they relate to some behavioral changes. A doctor must first eliminate the possibility of other disorders that have similar symptoms. Sleeping beauty syndrome is classified as recurrent hypersomnia.

This condition is characterized by excessive sleep lasting more than 2 days but less than 4 weeks, and then interspersed by normal waking conditions that can last for several months. Hypersomnia will recur at least once every year. A person suspected of having sleeping beauty syndrome should have at least one of the above mentioned symptoms during the episodes.

General examination tests are less helpful in ensuring symptoms of sleeping beauty syndrome. Therefore, it takes a series of specialized tests aimed at eliminating the possibility of other diseases with similar symptoms. Below are the steps that need to be taken.

  • Physical examination
  • Blood test
  • MRI examination on the head
  • Study sleep
  • CT scan
  • Evaluation of mental health

The aforementioned diagnostic methods may help the doctor to rule out some possibilities such as:

Mental health evaluation is recommended when doctors feel hesitant to distinguish the symptoms between sleep disorders and severe depression.


There is no definite treatment for sleeping beauty syndrome. Research shows that the various drugs used by the affected person did not always provide consistent benefits.

  • Mood stabilizer – Symptoms experienced by a person with sleeping beauty syndrome is similar to the symptoms of mood disorders. Therefore doctors always give some medicine to treat mood disorders as it is also beneficial for the patient. Some of the popular mood stabilizers are lithium, carbamazepine, valproate, phenytoin, and phenobarbital.
  • Stimulants – These medications keep the affected person awake effectively thus reducing drowsiness. However, these drugs actually cause irritability. Some of the stimulants that are often used are modafinil, amphetamines, methamphetamine, ephedrine and methylphenidate.
  • Clarithromycin – In recent times, there have been reports that some people with sleeping beauty syndrome may respond well to clarithromycin.
  • Many people think that waiting at home is better than relying on drugs.

A person with sleeping beauty syndrome needs to tell the people around him/her to understand the strange things that might happen. The affected person may behave badly which may offend them or can cause stress to them. By the way, there are a few tips on stress relievers. On the contrary, they should not also disturb the affected person during his/her sleep. The affected persons should be actively engaged with their physicians to gain a better understanding of their treatment.

It can not be denied that a person with sleeping beauty syndrome is unlikely to have a normal life. The person can not attend school or work in corporations. That’s why the person should have a support group that can help him/her live his/her life.

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Kategori : Mental Health