Woman with condition where laughing sends her to sleep almost drowns in pool

A woman with a rare condition where laughing sends her to sleep says she nearly drowned when she giggled in a swimming pool.

Bella Kilmartin, 24, has chronic sleep disorder narcolepsy and cataplexy which is a sudden muscular weakness that is triggered by strong emotions.

For Bella it's laughing and she can often be spotted taking a nap in nightclubs when out partying with friends or even catching some sleep on her breaks at work, BirminghamLive reports.

The pharmacy dispenser avoids pools after she nearly drowned whilst on holiday in Tenerife with a friend in 2016.

Bella, of Great Barr, Birmingham, said: "Something funny happened – I don't even know what – and I ended up starting to laugh.

"All of my muscles went weak and my head started drooping under the water.

"Luckily, my friend knew about my condition, so she swam over and literally had to hold my head above the water so I wouldn't drown.

"She had her hand under my chin to keep my head up and had to swim me over to the side of the pool.

"I was then starting to come out of it, because if I stop laughing, my muscles start to regain a bit of strength, but not straight away.

"It was terrifying at the time, and I'm very lucky she was there and able to hold me up.

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"Even though I felt that fear of drowning, I couldn't stop it from happening so my body just continued to be weak. That was definitely the scariest time it has happened."

She added: "It's more when its something that I wasn't expecting to be funny.

"I lose control of all of my muscles and they go all weak, but only when I laugh.

"My knees go weak, my head droops, and I'm fully conscious and aware and able to hear everything that is going on but just can't move my body at all."

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It took two years of Bella suffering with symptoms of narcolepsy before she was diagnosed just before she left school in 2015.

But she still managed to ace her exams and study psychology at Loughborough University.

She said: "As it has now progressed into full muscle weakness when I laugh, there have been so many incidents where I've hurt myself after losing control of my body.

"I would get tired and just sit down and then end up asleep in a nightclub!

"I get automatic behaviour as well, which is where when you're falling asleep, you carry on doing the task you were doing – it's really strange.

"It happens when I'm eating as well – sometimes if I'm overtired, I'll go to eat my food but start going in and out of sleep whilst carrying on eating.

"That happened a lot on nights out, I'd be enjoying a McDonalds at the end of the night but then be falling asleep in my food so friends would have to wake me up."

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