Monday, April 4, 2011
Medical Mondays: Death by Insomnia
I've been chatting with the lovely Erica Mitchell-Spickard about her WIP, and the topic of sleep deprivation came up.
Losing sleep isn't fun. We all have experienced it once in a while. The dark circles, irritability, and exhaustion are bad, but then we catch up with a few Zz's (or the infant finally starts sleeping through the night, ha ha).
But did you know insomnia can kill?
Fatal Familial Insomnia is an inherited disease (half of the kids who have an affected parent will inherit the gene) that manifests in middle age.
The sufferer, for no obvious reason, begins to have worsening problems with insomnia. Sleep medications actually make things worse, instead of helping the sleep come on.
During the first few months when the insomnia worsens, the person becomes paranoid, irritable, and suffers from panic attacks and phobias.
In the next few months, hallucinations set in.
By month 5-9, the insomnia becomes constant and the person rapidly loses weight.
By month 7-18, the person become demented and unresponsive, and soon dies.
What a horrible disease. Sadly there is no cure, but genetic testing is available for diagnosis. And luckily, the disease is extremely rare.
It made me think of Insomnia, by Stephen King, the sleepless wanderings of Heathcliff on the moor, and the insomnia that plagued Macbeth. Have you come by any insomniac characters lately in your reading?
Sleep tight! Don't let the bed bugs bite (eh, that's for another post. ;) ).