Can You Sleep Forever?

Do you think you will wake up tomorrow?

Don’t be so sure.  Check today’s date. It is possible you will wake up after few days or even after several years. You may be even mistakenly estimated dead and buried alive! Scary, isn’t it?

The longest sleep which was recorded in the Book of Guinness Records was 20 years. This record was set by Nadezhda Lebedeva in 1954. She had this little nap after a conflict with her husband. After Nadezhda woke up, doctors said she was perfectly fine.

There were hundreds of incidents like one above, especially in the earlier years. It was really tricky for people to decide whether a person is dead or sleeping. Hundreds of people were buried alive this way. In the 1838 newspaper “The Sunday Times” a horrific event was publicized  – cemetery watchers heard a strange noise coming out of under the earth. They dug out the coffin but it was too late – watchers saw a dead man whose face was twisted with despair. His hands were all bloody and the cover of coffin was all scratched with fingernails.

What causes such a state?

The Dryad by Jeremiah Morelli

The Dryad by Jeremiah Morelli

Lethargia or Sleep of Lethargy is like a death. It is a very deep sleep from which there is impossible to wake a person. While in this state of sleep all the vital functions are greatly slowed down. Reaction to any external stimulus disappears too. The brains remain active though. While in Lethargy Sleep, the process of ageing is greatly slowed down. However, ageing mechanism catches up immediately upon wake up. For example, you wouldn’t age while in deep stage of Lethargy Sleep for 20 years, but you would catch up all those 20 years in 1-3 year period upon awakening. Psyche doesn’t evolve too. In France, a 4 years old girl lost her conscious and woke up after 18 years. Upon awakening she requested a doll to play with.


Science-men only guess the cause of Lethargia. It is possible that this state is caused by something that is threatening to life, for example a head trauma, severe bleed-out or poisoning, physical fatigue. That kind of Lethargia usually lasts till the organism is recovered. Another possible cause is reaction to stress. Sensitive people may fall asleep for few days as a prevention against stress.

Mental pathology may be the cause too. For example, Catatonia Stupor  which emerges from having some mental illnesses and lasts for many years, reminds of Lethargia very much. One patient from 35 years to 60 years was a walking dead. He wasn’t able to speak nor move. Finally he began a process of waking up – a man started speaking. Later it was proved a man had a  Catatonia Stupor, not Lethargia.

Another reason is various preparations. For example, Interferon may cause Lethargia. A person understands what is happening around him, but is not able to move nor open eyes.

One Russian science-men study explains  a little: they examined 20% of persons who had Lethargia. It appeared that all of them often ailed with angina in childhood
. Scientists think that streptococcals which cause angina had mutated and penetrated the brain to awake Lethargia.


Real Lethargia is really rare – only 10 cases are registered every year. The odds you will not wake up tomorrow is the same you winning lottery. Also, today’s technologies won’t let you get buried alive. In case, take your mobile phone with you. It is very strange and unexplored phenomena…

Sweet dreams,

Source: Vilnius city public health bureau 


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