Normal teenage power sleeping or something more serious?

By: Jennifer Pretty Oct 16, 2012

Breakfast is made, eaten and the morning chores are done and suddenly you look at your watch. “It’s already 11:30. Where did the day go?” As you ponder this question, you think to yourself two things, “Hmmm, what should I make the family for lunch?” and “Hmmm, is my teenager still in bed sleeping? That boy can sleep his life away!”

You pause to look at your watch again and count the hours. “Didn’t he go to sleep at 9:30 last night? He was so tired; he walked around like a zombie, mumbling a bunch of nonsense to himself and practically fell asleep climbing up the stairs.”

Growing teenagers spend the weekends doing what’s routinely referred to as, “power sleeping.” Between waking up at the crack of dawn and having to turn on their brains immediately in order to go to school and learn and all the running around they do after school (not to mention any extracurricular activities they take part in), it isn’t unheard of for teens to sleep up to 16 hours at a time.

In fact, in 99% of cases it is easy to dismiss as nothing more than typical teenage fatigue. As with all things associated with adolescents, as is so often said about them, “this too shall pass.” Eventually teenagers stop growing, their brains fully develop and they settle into normal sleeping patterns.

What if this contemplation didn’t end with a chuckle when wondering whether your teenager could sleep his or her life away? What if you went upstairs to wake up your son or daughter to find him or her completely zonked out and nothing you could do could rouse him or her? Maybe after a few attempts, you might call your spouse upstairs, only to find that he is as unsuccessful as you. You both stand there and stare at one another. It would be difficult to mask the fear on your faces, wouldn’t it? What would you initially suspect were wrong with him or her? Illness? Drugs? Depression? A seizure? A stroke? Whatever your answer, certainly fear might overtake you. What if these concerns stretched into days and not just hours at a time? Your first stop, as soon as you could drag your teenager out of bed would be to the doctor’s office, right?

Welcome to the world of those suffering from Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS). Extremely rare, a nightmare to diagnosis because it is one made by exclusion and often confused with myriad other things, KLS comes on suddenly – usually in early adolescence – and can continue for a few decades and can abruptly end as it began. KLS is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Sleep marathons that can last 10 days
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hypersexuality
  • Lethargy
  • Hallucinations
  • Voracious appetite
  • Impaired cognition
  • Moodiness

So rare is this condition that there is still very little known about it. Very little funding goes to its research and about all that doctors and researchers agree on is that it isn’t autoimmune related, it afflicts more males than females, and that once people “snap out of it,” there are no lasting effects on the body or one’s cognition.

There’s no faking the symptoms and nobody wants to sleep 10 days at a time, miss out on so much school that picking up where they left off is virtually unworkable. Not to mention that having normal friendships and doing typical teenage fun things would be nearly impossible.  

To learn more about Kleine-Levin Syndrome, please click here


 Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!


Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!