Kelly Knipes
Kelly Knipes during an interview.

For most, the nightly ritual involves counting sheep, but for one woman in England, it's all about adding to the cart. Kelly Knipes, a 42-year-old mother from England, has gained attention for her rare and extraordinary sleep disorder, parasomnia, which compels her to shop online while asleep.

Parasomnia: The Disorder Behind the Nocturnal Shopping Sprees

Kelly Knipes suffers from parasomnia, a condition characterised by abnormal behaviours during sleep. Diagnosed in 2018, this disorder leads Kelly to engage in activities such as walking, talking, and, most unusually, shopping—without any awareness of her actions. "It's upsetting and frustrating going to bed thinking, 'I don't know what the night is going to lead to,'" Kelly shared with South West News Service.

Since her diagnosis, Kelly has woken up to an array of unexpected deliveries, including a full-sized plastic basketball court, tins of paint, books, salt and pepper shakers, a children's playhouse, fridges, tables, and hundreds of packs of Haribo candies. These unintentional shopping sprees have amassed debts exceeding £3,000.

The Financial Toll of Unconscious Shopping

Kelly's sleep shopping is facilitated by her saved credit card details on her phone, making transactions effortless even while asleep. "I was racking up debt everywhere," she admitted. As a mother of three, this disorder poses significant challenges, especially when she discovers packages she has no memory of ordering.

Falling Prey to Scammers

Kelly's nocturnal habits once led her to fall victim to scammers, who exploited her condition. After inadvertently providing her personal financial information via text, Kelly woke up to find £250 missing from her bank account. "I wouldn't have replied if I was awake," she said. This incident was just the beginning of a series of fraud attempts on her accounts, although her bank has been able to block most transactions.

Returning most items has proven difficult, if not impossible. "I couldn't refund any food purchases, like the Haribos," she said. "I kept the tins of paint and the [play] house because when that arrived, and my kids saw it, I felt I couldn't return it." Despite paying off her purchases, the impact of her disorder continues to weigh heavily on her.

Compounded by Sleep Apnea

Kelly's sleep disorder is exacerbated by sleep apnea, a severe condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, making her nocturnal behaviours more unpredictable. As a mother of three disabled children, each with their medical challenges, Kelly avoids taking sleeping pills to remain alert if her kids need her during the night.

Her unusual sleep habits began after the birth of her first child, evolving from sleepwalking into more complex behaviours like shopping. She has also engaged in other dangerous activities, such as overdosing on diabetes medication and leaving windows and doors open, requiring hospitalisation.

Kelly uses a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to manage her sleep apnea, which helps keep her airway open during sleep. Although beneficial, the device has its drawbacks. Kelly sometimes removes it in her sleep, undermining its effectiveness.

A Challenging Journey

Living with parasomnia has been a challenging journey for Kelly Knipes. "It can be anxiety-inducing," she shared. "Everyone thinks it's funny, but it's not. Some bits are, but some bits are quite serious."

Despite the humorous side of her situation, the reality is far from amusing. The financial strain, the constant threat of fraud, and the unpredictable nature of her disorder make her nightly experiences anything but restful.