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Getting adequate quality sleep is essential for optimal health and well-being, and healthy adults are advised to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. But there are people who oversleep or sleep too little, both of which are bad for health. You may find this hard to believe but there is a man who sleeps 300 days a year. Dubbed a real-life Kumbhakarna, a 42-year-old man from Rajasthan's Nagaur district can sleep for 20-25 days at a stretch once he takes a nap.
'Kumbhakarna, the Ramayana character, slept for six months a year after he was granted a boon, which was a curse in reality, by Lord Brahma. But this man, named Purkharam, is suffering from a rare sleeping disorder known as Axis Hypersomnia, which has affected his lifestyle as well as well-being. He was first diagnosed with this rare syndrome around 23 years back.
Purkharam has a small grocery shop in his village, but he opens it for only five days a month due to his disease. Even while at work, he falls asleep many times. Once he sleeps, it becomes difficult to wake him up, and his family members have to feed and bathe him when he's asleep.
Hypersomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is a condition in which a person has trouble staying awake during the day, even after long stretches of sleep. It can be a primary condition (when it occurs with no other medical conditions present) or a secondary condition due to other medical conditions like sleep apnea, Parkinson's disease, kidney failure, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Constant tiredness is the main symptom of hypersomnia. Other symptoms include drowsiness, low energy, irritability, anxiety, loss of appetite
slow thinking or speech, difficulty remembering and restlessness.
It is believed that primary hypersomnia is caused by problems in the brain systems that control sleep and waking functions. Studies indicate fluctuation in the protein of the brain called TNF-alpha behind the occurrence of Axis Hypersomnia.
Treatments for hypersomnia can vary, depending on the cause of the condition. Various drugs are prescribed for treatment of hypersomnia, including stimulants, antidepressants, as well as several newer medications such as Provigil, Xyrem, and Xywav.
Lifestyle changes including a regular sleeping schedule, avoiding alcohol or use of drugs and a high-nutrition diet are also a critical part of hypersomnia treatment. However, some patients may never get full relief. Though hypersomnia isn't a life-threatening condition, it may impact a person's quality of life.
In the initial days, Purkharam used to sleep for 15 hours a day, but his condition continued to aggravate, and his period of sleep increased by many hours and later by several days. Because he feels fatigue most of the time, Purkharam says his productivity remains nil. He gets headaches despite taking medication and sleeping excessively. Despite seeking medical help, his condition remains the same.
His wife Lichmi Devi and his mother Kanvari Devi still hope that he will recover soon and start living a normal life like before.
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