The Family that Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery


For anyone, the prospect of going without sleep for months would be a nightmare. Fatal Familial Insomnia means just that. The disease strikes in middle age, with symptoms including sweating, impotence and the sudden onset of menopause. 15 months after the symptoms appear, the patient dies. Very little is known about the disease’s cause or treatment. Members of one Italian family experienced the horror of fatal familial insomnia for two centuries. D.T. Max’s The Family That Couldn’t Sleep details their saga with the disease and their race to find a cure.