Kelly Knipes has racked up hefty bills after shopping while asleep. Picture: Facebook
Kelly Knipes has racked up hefty bills after shopping while asleep. Picture: Facebook

Bizarre way mum spent $5k in her sleep

A UK mum has spoken out about the rare medical condition that caused her to rack up a hefty online shopping bill - while fast asleep.

Kelly Knipes, 37, from Essex in England, first noticed a problem seven years ago, shortly after her first child was born.

She told UK tabloid The Mirror that around that time, she began waking up in the morning to find receipts for strange purchases she had no memory of making.

Over the years, she believes she has spent around £3000 ($A5571), including hundreds of dollars' worth of lollies, several cookie jars worth £58 ($A107) and even, on one occasion, a "full-size plastic basketball court" that arrived in a truck.

"I bought a full-size basketball court from eBay, and when it turned up at my house the next day, I just refused delivery," she told the publication.

"I would never actually have to put any credit card details when I was buying things online because it was all saved on my phone.

"It was all on my phone, and everything that is on my phone is accessible by touch. I was racking up debt everywhere."

Ms Knipes said she made the purchases from her phone, which had her credit card details already saved, and later had to return all the items to stop herself from falling into debt.

She said her condition, known as parasomnia, was caused by sleep apnoea - a potentially dangerous disorder that causes a sufferer to stop breathing repeatedly while asleep.

Kelly Knipes says her CPAP device has helped her get her ‘life back’. Picture: Facebook
Kelly Knipes says her CPAP device has helped her get her ‘life back’. Picture: Facebook

The mother of three, who said she was known to sleepwalk in childhood, claims her condition causes her brain to partly wake and then sleepwalk and shop.

On some mornings, she would wake to find all the windows and doors of her home wide open.

But while sleepwalking and shopping are relatively harmless, Ms Knipes said her disorder once caused her to overdose on diabetes medication during one of her pregnancies.

"I was having a dream that I was speaking to the doctors, and I kept saying that I didn't want to take the medicine anymore - but when I woke up I had taken all the tablets," she told The Mirror.

"Luckily everything was OK - but I was so worried that social services would get involved."

Ms Knipes said she visited her doctor several times, only for her symptoms to be dismissed as the result of stress and exhaustion.

But after contacting two consultants, she finally found answers after officially being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea and parasomnia, with one specialist finding she had stopped breathing 122 times during the night.

Since then, Ms Knipes has experimented with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device during the night, which keeps her airway open as she sleeps.

She has also slept with an oxygen mask, with both therapies offering relief.

"When I had the CPAP machine, I felt rested and re-energised for the first time in ages," she said.

"It really has given me my life back.

"Since starting CPAP, I have not had any abnormal sleep behaviours, have not shopped online at night, my headaches have ceased and I am not depressed."

Ms Knipes said she was now speaking out about her rare condition as she wanted to raise awareness and help other sufferers.

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