‘Every time I laugh or have an orgasm I fall asleep...’
MUM’S RARE MEDICAL CONDITION IS NO JOKE
ONE woman’s rare medical disorder is no laughing matter…
Jessica Southall “falls asleep” if she experiences strong emotions.
The 20-year-old mum can nod off while giggling or even while having an orgasm.
Poor Jess gets so exhausted she has to sleep for up to 13 hours every day.
Her condition – narcolepsy with cataplexy – means her muscles totally relax when it kicks in, making it look as though she is kipping.
Jessica even suffered her debilitating “sleep attacks” while she was in labour with her daughter Briella, now a year old.
She always has to make sure she is sitting down if she wants to watch something funny on TV.
Jessica, from Nottingham, said: “One minute I’ll be there in stitches laughing my head off, not able to stop…
“The next moment my head is on my chest or I’m lying on the floor.
“I’m fully awake – I can hear everything but I can’t talk and I can’t move.
“I can’t respond or snap out of it until the emotion stops. To any other person it looks like I’ve fallen asleep.
“It happens when I orgasm too. When me and my partner were first dating it was near enough every time.
“I just had to explain to him that it’s only going to happen when he makes me feel at my very best. But it’s not ideal.
“It might sound funny – and I do try to be light-hearted about it – but it’s horrible really.” Jessica began to get extreme exhaustion aged 15.
She found herself falling asleep in lessons, on the bus to school and even in the middle of conversations.
Jessica suffered her first cataplexy attack, where her muscles relax and go weak, at the age of 16.
She was carrying two cups of tea when her aunt told a cheeky joke.
It made Jessica laugh so much she involuntarily dropped both the steaming brews when her hands “went to sleep”.
Soon her chin was dropping to her chest every time she giggled or heard a joke.
A fit of laughter would see her collapsing on the floor in a heap.
Months of tests and scans revealed she had narcolepsy, a neurological condition which affects the brain’s ability to regulate its normal sleep-wake cycle.
She was also diagnosed with the related condition cataplexy – sudden muscular weakness triggered by strong emotions such as laughter, anger and surprise.
A combination of the two means she falls asleep when she laughs, cries really hard, or experiences extreme pleasure.
Jessica added: “At my worst I was collapsing every time I laughed.”
“I’ve learned – I know my body now so if I’m going to laugh I’ll grab something to hold on to so when my muscles get weak I’ll be okay.”