A UK student has revealed she suffers from a rare syndrome that means she can sleep for weeks at a time, and it’s so bad she has even napped through her university exams.
Rhoda Rodriguez-Diaz from Leicester has ‘sleeping beauty syndrome’, which causes a person to nap for up to 22-hours a day.
Sufferers even remain in dreamlike trance states while they eat, drink and go to the toilet.
At its worst, the 21-year-old’s sleeping episodes can last up to three weeks at a time, and it once caused her to fail her second year at university, because she slept through her end-of-year exams.
“It’s really annoying when people call me lazy,” Rhoda told the Mail Online.
“I do struggle with the effects of it but it’s part of me and not who I am.
“It’s frustrating because I can’t help it.”
Rhoda was diagnosed with hyper insomnia by her GP when she was a child, a condition characterised by extreme tiredness and a constant need to sleep.
But it wasn’t until September last year, that doctors discovered the psychology student had contracted the one-in-a-million Kleine-Levin Syndrome, nicknamed after the Disney princess Sleeping Beauty.
The unpredictable condition can cause Rhoda to go months at a time without experiencing any episodes, but when they do strike, she can be wiped out for days.
“Life goes on while I’m sleeping,” she explained.
“Reality hits me when I wake up and realise I’ve missed a week of my life.”
Rhoda said she feels a “huge setback” when her sleeping episode wears off and she wakes up to a completely new life.
“I miss out on so much,” she said.
“It’s hard to explain to people where I have been because it’s so rare and a lot of people struggle to understand.”
As a child, Rhoda felt she couldn’t spend time with her friends as much as she liked because of her need to sleep.
Even at four or five years old, the student could sleep for weeks at a time, with doctors unable to put their finger on what was causing the bizarre problem.
But when her need to sleep stopped for a period of time during her childhood, Rhoda and her doctors thought her sleeping issue was gone for good.
That was, until she entered adolescence.
When Rhoda was 15-yearas-old, she started sleeping more and more, falling asleep at school and having to force herself to get through daily activities.
“I found myself mentally tired all of the time — I got worked up and my behaviour changed drastically,” she said.
“It was only after I woke up after a few days I would feel normal again.”
Between February and June of last year, Rhoda went through consecutive episodes which meant she was unable to spend time studying.
She was dismissed from her course in July when she failed to show up to exams, and missed coursework deadlines, because she was asleep.
A specialist doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital London finally diagnosed her in September, but things have still been difficult, with episodes occurring every few months.
Despite this, Rhoda has enrolled to resume her studies and will be sitting her second year again after being accepted as an ‘exceptional case’.
People who suffer from Kleine-Levin Syndrome are expected to grow out of the condition eventually, and Rhoda has learnt to manage her condition in her adult life.
“This is just a hiccup in my life and I am just waiting until it fades out,” she said.
“I want to be taken seriously and this isn’t helping.”
This story originally appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.