Lethargic sleep similar to death

Lethargic sleep similar to death
Lethargic sleep similar to death

Lethargic sleep, or lethargy (from the Greek words "summer" - "oblivion", and "argia" - "inaction"), has been known since ancient times. This strange dream, similar to death, attacks a person for no apparent reason and can last for weeks, months and years. Science is not yet able to explain its cause.

Woke up … after 42 years

People of all ages, men and women alike, are subject to lethargic sleep. Lethargy can take over a person at any time of the day. It is often preceded by nervous stress or extreme fatigue.

Some people who have been in this strange state testified that during sleep they heard surrounding sounds, felt smells, and felt touches to themselves. Others claimed that they had ended up in other worlds, met with deceased relatives, lived some kind of washed out, alien lives. Most sleeping people do not hear or feel absolutely nothing.

Scientists have revealed a strong, 20-30 times slowdown in all life processes in those in lethargy. As a result, people practically do not age during lethargic sleep. But after waking up, some mechanism responsible for the development of the body turns on in them, and they rapidly return to their true age.

There is a known case with a native of Sweden, Carolina Olsen, who set the record for the duration of lethargic sleep. In 1876, at the age of 14, she slipped in the street and hit her head on a cobblestone pavement. In the hospital, she fell asleep. Even electric shocks could not get her out of her lethargy. The mother was on duty at the bedside of the sleeping girl, feeding her with a rubber tube.

In 1908, the mother died and was replaced by a relative. Carolina sometimes moved, shortly before waking up she began to get up and eat on her own. She finally woke up in 1918. In appearance, she could not have been given more than 20, although in fact she was 56 years old. But after three years she looked at all 50. During this time she managed to get married and have a child. Carolina Olsen died in 1950 at the age of 88.

Academician Pavlov believed that lethargic sleep is caused by nervous depletion of brain cells, which fall into the so-called protective inhibition, which saves them from death. However, modern scientists are dubious about his theory. Indeed, even small children who cannot have nervous exhaustion fall into lethargy.

Is the reason for sore throat?

Now doctors have a popular hypothesis about the connection between lethargic sleep and the viruses that cause sore throat. British scientists Russell Dale and Andrew Church studied the medical history of more than two dozen patients who fell into lethargy, and found that all of them, before falling asleep for a long time, had had a sore throat. Scientists have suggested that the streptococcus virus that causes sore throat can mutate and, while the immune system is distracted by the struggle for a healthy throat, enter the brain and cause inflammation, which leads to lethargy.

In the archives, they found data on numerous cases of lethargic sleep that occurred in the world from 1916 to 1927, which can well be called a real epidemic of lethargy. Around the same years, an epidemic of another mysterious disease, the Spanish flu, raged, which claimed about 100 million human lives. Until now, no one knows for sure what kind of illness it was. In those years, they did not know how to isolate viruses. The symptoms of the Spanish woman were similar to those of the flu, tonsillitis, pneumonia. According to Dale and Church, the Spanish flu epidemic provoked an accelerated mutation of streptococcal viruses, which, in turn, caused an epidemic of lethargy.

An abnormally high number of depressions into lethargy in the 70s-80s of the 18th century was also noted. Apparently, here we can also talk about an epidemic, which, by the way, led to a huge number of burials of people still alive. From that time until the beginning of the 20th century, the fear of falling into lethargy and being buried alive maniacally persecuted millions of people around the world. This fear haunted, in particular, and some famous writers such as N. V. Gogol, H. G. Wells and Wilkie Collins. Wells even wrote a story on the subject, When the Sleeper Wakes up.

Dale and Church's hypothesis is still controversial. A mutant of streptococcus that causes lethargy has not yet been identified - and this is despite the fact that cases of falling into lethargy still occur. In addition, many examples are known when people fell asleep with a lethargic sleep, and did not recover from a sore throat.


In the 1970s, the American psychiatrist and medium Charles Zborowski proposed his own theory of lethargic sleep. In his opinion, the cause of lethargy is demonic possession.

The episode that took place in 1978 with the American Mary Prescott prompted him to do this. Mary participated in a seance. Through it, the summoned spirits answered the questions of those present. It all ended with the woman losing consciousness. She showed no signs of life, and the participants in the session decided that she was dead. Wanting to evade responsibility, they did not report the incident to the police. The body was taken to the basement. However, the police began to search, and after three days the insensible Mary was found. To everyone's surprise, her body showed no signs of rotting, despite the dampness in the basement. Later, doctors diagnosed the woman with lethargy.

Upon learning of the circumstances under which Mary fell asleep, Zborowski decided to try to awaken her using exorcism techniques. Simultaneously with exorcist procedures, he also used his own mediumistic abilities. Soon, the sleeping woman, without leaving her lethargy, began to stir. Then the spirit in her began to give voice and even answer the questions of the medium. The voice he spoke through the sleeper was harsh, clearly not feminine.

Prayers and persistent requests to let the woman go had an effect, and the outside spirit left her body. In those minutes, those present felt a drop in the temperature in the room. But Mary began to breathe more quickly and soon finally awakened.

Encouraged by this success, Zborowski set about recovering from the lethargy of another woman who had been asleep for eight months. She fell asleep at the workplace, completely unexpected for herself and her colleagues. At first, she did not react to the reading of prayers and almost continuous telepathic influence, but then the devices recorded a slight increase in pulse and respiration. The medium redoubled his efforts, and soon the patient began to wiggle her fingers, indicating that she could hear him.

Zborowski managed to establish contact with her: certain finger movements meant her answers "yes" and "no". After a short time, it became clear to the medium that it was not the patient who was answering his questions, but some entity in her body. He redoubled his efforts, and soon the spirit that possessed the patient began to force her to move and get out of bed. At the same time, the movements of the sleeping person were like cramps. The exorcism of the demon lasted about two weeks. Zborowski had to involve another experienced exorcist as his assistant; together they made the demon leave the woman.


I must say that Zborovsky is not the discoverer of such a method of getting people out of lethargic sleep. In 1860, in St. Petersburg, the famous Scottish medium Daniel Home, using his paranormal abilities, brought a certain petty bourgeois Ignatiev out of lethargy, as the newspapers of the time wrote about. At the same time, it was pointed out that "Mr. Ignatiev was undoubtedly brought into a state of imaginary death by a demon, since during his exit from the body of a sleeping man and the awakening of the latter, frightening phenomena were observed, such as knocks, rumbles and spontaneous movements of objects."

Perhaps, the centuries-old experience of mankind, which also connects lethargic sleep with evil spirits, speaks in favor of Zborovsky's "insane" hypothesis. In Russia, for example, from time immemorial lethargy was considered a devilish obsession. In the pagan period, the priests knew how to withdraw from it, invoking Mokoshi and other Slavic deities. Before the revolution, this disease in the villages was called a sleepyard and a priest was called in to cure it, who read prayers for the expulsion of demons. For the soul of the one who fell into lethargy, his relatives also prayed. After awakening, this person had to retire to a monastery or skete and there to atone for his sins.

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