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When 15-year-old Louisa Ball takes a nap, she doesn't mess around. She sleeps for days on end, and no amount of shaking or prodding can fully wake her up. The British girl has a rare condition called Sleeping Beauty Sickness, but there's no Prince Charming on the way to rescue her. Doctors don't know what causes it or how to cure it — only that it strikes teenagers and goes away by itself after 8 to 12 years.

She was eventually diagnosed with Kleine-Levin Syndrome, whose victims worldwide may number no more than 1,000. The victims live normally for weeks or months at a time, with normal sleep patterns and normal energy levels. Then, with little warning, they'll go to sleep for days or weeks at a time. So far, Louisa's longest bout in bed has been 13 days. Victims will wake briefly, but be disoriented and not fully alert. Louisa's parents force her awake so she can use the bathroom and eat.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

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