Meet the young woman who passes out when she laughs or cries

1st Mar 18 | Real Life

Sam is only properly awake for about three hours a day

PA REAL LIFE Sam during an episode Cropped (1)

A young woman who passes out whenever she laughs or cries, is also too terrified to have a bath in case she falls asleep and drowns.

Struck down by narcolepsy - a neurological disorder, where sufferers experience uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep - Sam Hart, 20, has been "robbed of her independence," according to her mum, Angie.

Angie, 44, of, Luton, Beds., who cares for Sam, with the help of her husband, Earl, 52, said: "She has hardly any quality of life.

Sam (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sam (Collect/PA Real Life)

"She's tried four different types of medication, which she had to stop, because they made her mental health so bad and she started setting fire to things, wanting to stab people and hearing voices in her head telling her to do bad things.

"Our big hope now is an appointment she has in March to see a neurologist, who we hope and pray will be able to do something.

"I've been told there's a new drug available, but only in certain counties, so I'm just hoping she will be able to try that."

Chloe, Earl, Daniel, Angie and Sam (Collect/PA Real Life)
Chloe, Earl, Daniel, Angie and Sam (Collect/PA Real Life)

On the autistic spectrum, meaning she experiences difficulty interacting and communicating with people, Sam also suffers with severe anxiety.

These conditions are exacerbated by her narcolepsy - which is so incapacitating, she is only properly awake for about three hours a day.

Angie continued: "She'll wake up at about 10pm and be alert for around 3 hours. The rest of the time, she's asleep.

The family at Chessington (Collect/PA Real Life)
The family at Chessington (Collect/PA Real Life)

"If I tell people she has narcolepsy, they are very sympathetic, but if she has one of her sleep attacks in public, when she wakes up, she is sure everyone's staring at her.

"She's nearly 21, but she can't do any of the fun things young women her age should be enjoying."

Angie, who has two other children, Chloe, 18, and Daniel, 14, realises Sam was having symptoms of narcolepsy when she was a little girl, at school.

Sam at Blackpool Palladium (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sam at Blackpool Palladium (Collect/PA Real Life)

She said: "She used to fall asleep at school and teachers would ask me, 'When does she go to bed?'

"I'd say, 'It's lights out at 9pm, like other kids,' not really understanding why they were asking me.

"I now know she used to get up a lot in the night, but she'd be so quiet that I didn't realise at the time.

Sam having sleep study (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sam having sleep study (Collect/PA Real Life)

"She used to be called 'lazy' and accused of not concentrating at school, but she was clearly just half asleep."

Sam's diagnosis came when she was around 15, after she fell asleep on the floor and Angie was sent into a complete panic.

"I just didn't know what was happening," she confessed. "It was very frightening, but she didn't remember anything about it afterwards."

Sam with mum Angie (Collect/PA Real Life)
Sam with mum Angie (Collect/PA Real Life)

Now Angie and Earl are crowdfunding through JustGiving, so they can put up ambient, or low-key lighting and LED lights in her room, to change to her mood.

"Poor Sam has so many health difficulties, we want to make her room a safe haven for her," said Angie.

"This really is no way for her to live. We even had to rip the bath out, as she was worried she might drown, and put a wet room in for her."

Sam, who also has dyspraxia, a form of developmental coordination disorder, and dyslexia, a learning difficulty impacting reading and writing, now has narcoleptic episodes several times a day.

Angie continued: "Her attacks only last for about 10 minutes each, but they happen all the time, so she can't go out on her own, as she literally falls unconscious, making her extremely vulnerable.

"She can do this five, six, or seven times a day and, while she remembers her dreams, she does not remember falling asleep, or what she was doing before it happened.

"We have been warned that she could now start sleepwalking, too, so I'm just hoping and praying the neurologist can find something to help her.

"Then, maybe the rest of the family will be able to sleep soundly, at last, too."

To donate to Sam's fund, visit

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