A mother-of-three who suffers from a rare sleeping disorder spent £3,000 in internet shopping sprees while fast asleep.
Kelly Knipes, 37, regularly woke up in the morning to find email receipts for items she had unconsciously bought online during the night.
One day a delivery lorry turned up outside her home containing an ‘in-ground Basketball Unit’ including a net, pole and backboard bought on Ebay for £100, which she hadn’t realise she had purchased.
Other items she has ordered include hundreds of pounds worth of Haribo sweets, £58 worth of cookie jars, tins of paint, salt and pepper pots, a Wendy house, two fridges, a table and books about teaching – despite her not being a teacher.
Kelly Knipes, 37, spent thousands of pounds online ordering random products while she was asleep
One day a delivery lorry turned up outside Ms Knipes’ home containing a basketball unit which she didn’t realise she had bought
The mother-of-three now wears an oxygen mask at night which helps to regulate her breathing, and control both conditions
Ms Knipes had to return all the items, which had been easily purchased because her credit card details were stored on her phone.
Her nocturnal shopping behaviour started seven years ago, after the birth of her first child, when was found to suffer from a condition called parasomnia.
Ms Knipes said: ‘I didn’t know what I was going to do in the night. I was physically exhausted’
She thinks the disorder was sparked by her sleep apnoea.
Ms Knipes said: ‘I bought a full size basketball court from Ebay, and when it turned up at my house the next day, I just refused delivery.
‘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, accessible by touch. I was racking up debt everywhere.’
Ms Knipes, from Basildon in Essex, was known to sleepwalk as a child but her condition worsened following the birth of her first child, Henry, in 2006.
She added: ‘When I was 20 weeks pregnant, I took an overdose in my sleep.
‘Because I am diabetic I have to take medicine for it and I overdosed.
‘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.
‘Luckily everything was OK, but I was so worried that social services would get involved.’
At the time she lived in a ground floor flat and would wake to find doors and windows open after she’d been up in the night.
Other items she has purchased while ‘sleep shopping’ include hundreds of pounds worth of Haribo sweets and £58 worth of cookie jars
Other items she has ordered include tins of paint and a Wendy house
She didn’t seek help because she feared doctors may question her ability as a single mother.
But after marrying her husband Jamie, 40, who is deaf, and the birth of their sons Joey and Carson, now four and three, the condition worsened.
Ms Knipes said: ‘It was horrible, because I didn’t know what I was going to do in the night. I was physically exhausted, I felt so drained every day of my life.
‘I didn’t do anything with my kids, I was constantly in hospital because I wasn’t sleeping at night.
‘Every other parent was taking their kids out but my kids thought the hospital was their version of the day out.
‘I didn’t feel like I could be a mum or a wife. I was piling on the weight because I was eating to try and get my sugar levels up. It was awful.’
The 37-year-old also bought two fridges, salt and pepper pots, a table and books about teaching – despite her not being a teacher
Ms Knipes’ nocturnal shopping behaviour started seven years ago, after the birth of her first child, when was found to suffer from a condition called parasomnia
What is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is the most common sleep disorder in the UK, the NHS has reported.
It occurs when the muscles and soft tissues in the throat relax, which blocks the airways.
The resulting lack of oxygen in the brain causes sufferers to wake regularly through the night.
Common symptoms include loud snoring, gasping and grunting during sleep.
Although snoring is a symptom of sleep apnoea, not all those that snore have the disorder.
The condition has serious physical health consequences, including an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Most sufferers manage their symptoms by wearing an oxygen mask at night or an oral device to keep their airways open.
Ms Knipes went to her GP on numerous occasions but was repeatedly told her symptoms were down to her being tired and stressed.
She added: ‘Because I have three disabled children, everyone just kept putting it down to stress of looking after my children.’
It was only when she wrote directly to two consultants pleading for help that one took on her case.
Dr Samuel suggested a trial of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to keep the airway open and the results have been remarkable.
Dr Samuel could prove that she had stopped breathing 122 times when she was sleeping and diagnosed her with obstructive sleep apnoea and parasomnia.
She now wears an oxygen mask at night which helps to regulate her breathing, and control both conditions.
Ms Knipes said: ‘When I had the CPAP machine I felt rested and re-energized for the first time in ages. 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.’