A woman from Leicester suffering from a one-in-a-million “sleeping beauty syndrome” can sleep for up to 22 hours a day, waking in a dream-like state for two hours to eat, drink and go to the toilet.
Rhoda Rodriguez-Diaz, 21, is a psychology student who was diagnosed by doctors in September last year with Kleine-Levin Syndrome, reported the Daily Mail.
Rhoda can go with months without suffering from any sleeping episode, but when she does, they take a toll on her life.
She napped through the crucial end-of-year exams in the second year of college and failed. Because of the rarity of her condition people have failed to understand her condition and called her lazy.
“It’s really annoying when people call me lazy,” Rhoda told Daily Mail. “I do struggle to deal with the effects of it.”
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She said she’s determined to not let her sleeping condition have a big impact on her life. “It is one part of me and not who I am. It’s frustrating because I can’t help it,” she said.
When Rhoda sleeps she loses count of time and finds it hard to explain to people where she has been. “Reality hits me when I wake up and realize I’ve missed like a week of my life,” she said.
“When I was four or five I would sleep for two or three weeks at a time and the doctors had no idea what it was,” she said.
Rhoda stopped having long sleeping episodes when she was a child but they re-occurred when she was a teen.
“When I was 15 or 16 I remember finding myself sleeping more and more. Even at school, I would fall asleep in the study area. I forced myself to go to school. I didn’t get teased but I found it very frustrating,” she said.
Rhoda’s friends can make out when she is about to have a napping episode because her behavior drastically changes.
Last year, she was dismissed from her course she failed to show up for many exams and missed coursework deadlines. After that, she went to specialists at St. Thomas’ Hospital who diagnosed her with the rare syndrome.
“I tried to explain to uni that I had a condition that was stopping me from doing work. But because I wasn’t diagnosed until September I had nothing to back it up. I didn’t have enough credits to pass the year and I was dismissed,” she said.
Rhoda experienced the last sleeping episode three months ago when she slept for over 60 hours in three days. She snacks on junk food during her sleeping episodes and puts on weight.
She has re-enrolled in college and is going through the second year again.
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“I missed so many exams,” she said. “60 percent of my course is exams and I missed half of them. It wasn’t my fault. But they said this is an ‘exceptional case’ so I am allowed to go back. It’s a big relief but I have to redo a lot of work I did in second year. It was difficult for me.”
People with Kleine-Levin Syndrome are known to gradually overcome the condition and Rhoda says she’s more aware of it now and has learned to manage it.
“I’m more aware of it now. I know when I’m going to have an episode,” she said. “It used to feel like I was in a dream. It’s such a surreal feeling. It feels like you’re not really there.”
She’s waiting for the condition to completely subside. “I want to be taken serious in life and this isn’t helping,” she said.