Commonly referred to as sleeping sickness, narcolepsy is a rare genetic disease affecting a person’s sleep-wake cycles. According to Sleepfoundation.org, one in every 2,000 – 3,000 people suffers from this sleep disorder. Many people confuse it with insomnia because it is characterized by trouble sleeping but the condition primarily affects the brain’s function regarding sleeping and waking cycles.
If you have narcolepsy, you may unwillingly fall asleep in the middle of an important task such as eating, driving, or even talking. The sleeping disorder is quite difficult to diagnose. You can have it for years and not know about it until the symptoms become more intense.
Jimmy Kimmel’s Story with Narcolepsy
Through an essay written to Esquire in 2003, the late-night TV show Jimmy Kimmel claimed that he is mildly narcoleptic. Like many other patients suffering from the chronic disorder, Jimmy didn’t know he was narcoleptic until he was 30. “I would sleep every afternoon for three hours and get tired for no apparent reason. I would sleep during meetings, driving, and watching TV,” said Kimmel.
Jimmy claimed in the essay that he was once stopped by a traffic cop for dozing off on the wheel. His brain was as tired, which made him lack focus. By then, he would have had to down countless glasses of iced tea to get through the afternoon. He eventually went to the doctor when he noticed his body was constantly tired. The doctor did confirm his condition and gave him Provigil to help control it.
The essay entitled What It Feels like to Have Narcolepsy went on to reveal quite a lot about what the leading TV host had gone through with narcolepsy. Kimmel claimed to have fallen asleep once while being an MC on Ben Stein’s show. Kimmel joked about the sleep disorder saying he’d rather have it than not have it. “When I hop on a plane to Vegas, I will sleep right before the plane takes off and only wake up after it has landed. I am ever that close to sleep.”
Other Celebrities with Narcolepsy
Jimmy Kimmel isn’t the only narcoleptic showbiz star. Here are a few other A-listers suffering from the disorder.
Justin Chambers, famous for playing the role of Alex Karev on the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, is also narcoleptic. He checked himself into UCLA’s psychiatric ward in 2008 seeking help on managing the illness. He claims his mind would race while his body showed signs of extreme fatigue.
The vocally-endowed Maria Carey also admitted to sleeping a little longer than usual. “I have to get 15 hours of sleep before any performance to put my best foot forward. I also sleep in a room full of humidifiers to get rid of dry air in the room.” She spoke to Interview Magazine in 2007. She eventually got help and is in a better position now.
The famous historical icon, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wasn’t apologetic about napping during the day. Churchill told the New York Times that napping during the day makes you accomplish more. “You get two days in one, or at the very least, one and a half.”
Narcolepsy may be viewed as an unfortunate sleep disorder but Jimmy Kimmel, Winston Churchill, and other famous names have found a way to fit it into their lifestyles. Talk about making lemonade from lemons!