A student has earned the nickname 'Sleeping Beauty' as a result of a rare medical diagnosis that means she develops extreme bouts of exhaustion and can sleep for as much as a week.
That's a full week of sleep, without even waking up to go to the bathroom, eat, or drink.
Hermione Cox-Denning developed the condition three years ago but was only recently diagnosed with Kleine-Levin Syndrome.
At first, it was thought that she was suffering from a winter bug or from the flu, but it turned out that she actually has a rare neurological condition that means that she falls asleep and literally doesn't move for days.
The 18-year-old from Aberystwyth, Wales, has now discovered that a particularly boozy night can trigger off one of the episodes that sees her left flat out for days at a time. She said: "It took me a long time to see what was triggering this for me. I knew it wasn't stress and I couldn't see a particular food pattern.
"I realised that when I drank alcohol, I would often have an episode the next day.
"I've learned that I can have one or two drinks, but much more than that causes me to plunge into a deep sleep for days afterwards. I'm like the real life Sleeping Beauty."
This is no laughing matter, mind. The condition has had a serious impact on Hermione's life and she is now finding it difficult to get work placement or to apply for university.
She continued: "My memory of my first episode is hazy. I just remember waking up for a few minutes throughout the hours and hours of sleep, dreary and confused.
"My mind was so confused - I couldn't speak, I didn't eat, or drink and I didn't go the toilet. It was like my body shut down.
"I was always on my phone before, but I didn't speak to anyone for a whole week because I kept sleeping.
"I think a lot of my friends were worried because I just disappeared.
"I went to see a doctor and they said that it was depression and mental health issues.
"My dad was saying that this wasn't normal - I wasn't just napping, I was sleeping for full days.
"I am really social and outgoing, and I wanted to be out with my friends so it was really unexpected. I felt this was something physical."
Eventually, after several years, a diagnosis was given to her in March 2018. Now begins the process of figuring out what her triggers are so that the illness can be managed as well as possible.
At the minute, she is taking a gap year before university to try to get her illness under control. In some cases, the illness becomes less and less noticeable as patients age - Hermione will be hoping that this is the case for her.
She said: "I'm on a gap year at the minute and I wanted to volunteer overseas, but I couldn't because of my illness.
"It really upsets me that I miss out on opportunities like that. I'm hoping it will ease and I'll still be able to go to university.
"Eventually I would like to study veterinary medicine. My plan is to stay close to home though. I'm still having my episodes regularly.
"I will sleep pretty much continuously for three days. On the fourth day, it will start to ease, and I'll get up, go to the toilet and have something to eat.
"It takes about four days after that to get back to normal."
Here's hoping that it improves for her.
Featured Image Credit: PA Real Life
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