The documentary ‘Dying to Sleep’ made by Discovery, focuses on a rare disease Fatal Familial Insomnia or FFI and the different stages of the disease, the age groups it affects and the final progression of the fatal disease.
FFI, a prion disease attacks the thalmus whose main function is to regulate sleep in the body. The neurons are severely damaged by the plagues formed by the prions.
The disease is found to affect people in the age range 30-60, the average age being 50 years. The disease normally occurs in the later years especially after childbirth. death follows within a period of 7 to 18 months since the onset of the disease.
The documentary shows that the FII has four stages and runs a course of 7 to 18 months post which death occurs. The first stage which lasts for four months is marked by insomnia, panic attacks, paranoia, and phobias.
In the second stages hallucinations and panic attacks become noticeable. This stage lasts for about five months.
Third stage lasts for about three months and one experiences complete inability to sleep and loss of weight.
Fourth and final stage is Dementia which culminates into death of the patient.