Jimmy Kimmel Self-Medicated His Sleep Disorder By Drinking Gallons of Iced Tea Every Day Until a Doctor Intervened

Jimmy Kimmel is a multifaceted man. He’s had an illustrious career, mostly focused on the late-night scene. He is also a cookbook collector. Another little-known fact about Kimmel? He has narcolepsy, a serious sleep disorder.

Jimmy Kimmel smiling
Jimmy Kimmel | Randy Holmes via Getty Images

According to Web MD, narcolepsy causes daytime sleepiness. People with narcolepsy may fall asleep at any time, even when they’re in the middle of doing something important.

Narcolepsy has given Jimmy Kimmel some scares

Before his diagnosis, Kimmel just thought he wasn’t getting enough sleep. He would drink “gallons of iced tea” in an effort to get through the day without dozing off. Once he fell asleep in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Kimmel told Esquire that a police officer actually called him out over the megaphone.

“My head was diving, then jerking back up. All of a sudden, this loud voice over a megaphone says, ‘Are you awake enough to drive that vehicle?’ And I practically jumped out of my skin. It was the police, one lane over.”

Kimmel’s condition affected his career, too. He claims he would fall asleep during the Win Ben Stein’s Money frequently. Kimmel attributed this to Ben Stein’s monotone voice, at least in part. “When I was emceeing Win Ben Stein’s Money, I actually fell asleep during the show a few times. I would sit on the safe over to the side and just sort of doze off. But that was probably a combination of the narcolepsy and Ben’s voice,” Kimmel told Esquire. 

Narcolepsy isn’t all bad for Kimmel. He can immediately fall asleep on an airplane, and stay asleep for the whole flight. That’s convenient.  

Jimmy Kimmel was diagnosed as an adult

Kimmel lived the first part of his adult life thinking he just never got enough sleep. When he told a doctor how much iced tea he was drinking, it all came together. He was prescribed the medication Provigil. There are many medications that can be used to treat narcolepsy, including ones to help with cataplexy. Luckily for Kimmel, he doesn’t experience cataplexy, which is sudden muscle limpness. 

It hasn’t escaped Kimmel that the idea of a late-night talk show host with narcolepsy is a little funny. As of 2003, when he spoke to Esquire, Kimmel hadn’t yet ever referenced his narcolepsy diagnosis on his show. He said “I’ve never used my narcolepsy in my work, though I do have a dream to someday use up an entire hour of television time by sleeping.”

Jimmy Kimmel isn’t the only star with a sleep disorder

Kimmel’s not the only celeb with a sleep disorder. Some big-name stars struggle with sleep issues. Jennifer Aniston is a sleepwalker, which affects a surprising number of Americans.

George Clooney is an insomniac. That means he struggles to fall asleep, and then usually can’t stay asleep during the night. Amazingly, he’s still able to churn out great movies, despite the fact that he rarely gets a good night’s sleep. 

Many stars value their sleep, including Jennifer Lopez. She says eight hours of sleep is essential, according to CBS News. The Hustlers star claims great sleep is her best-kept beauty secret. 

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