Kazakhstan Villagers are Suddenly Falling Into Deep Sleeps – and No One Knows Why

Kazakhstan Villagers are Suddenly Falling Into Deep Sleeps – and No One Knows Why

What could be happening in the small village of Kalachi, Kazakhastan? The past year and a half has shown that about a quarter of the population of the village has experienced a frightening phenomena- falling into deep sleep, at a moment’s notice. They will stop what they are doing, and go to sleep. The worst part: no one knows how, or why, this is occurring. More from Mashable:


Dubbed a “sleeping sickness” by scientists, the episodes are marked by an instantaneous deep slumber that lasts days on end. Those afflicted wake up feeling confused and dizzy — most don’t recall their time asleep, but some report frightening hallucinations.

“To bring them into full consciousness is practically impossible on the first day,” explained professor Leonid Rikhvanov, who is investigating the disease, to Newsweek.

While college students during finals week may also experience similar symptoms, the sleeping sickness in Kalachi can’t be explained away by late-night study sessions. In fact, it can’t be explained away by anything.

Scientists and doctors have flown into Kalachi to determine the root of the illness, but after conducting several tests ranging from environmental toxicity to patient data, results have been unsubstantial. Bacterial and viral tests have come up negative, knocking out the possibility that this is a parasitic disease such as African trypanosomiasis, which has similar effects.
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So beyond a few hunches, scientists don’t have much explanation for what’s going on. So beyond a few hunches, scientists don’t have much explanation for what’s going on.

The first incident was reported in March 2013 and since then 122 villagers have fallen victim to the mysterious illness. The episodes tend to come in waves — lull periods are interrupted by a new outbreak of cases. According to Russian Times, eight schoolchildren fell asleep within the same hour on the first day of school last September, and a few months later, 60 people fell victim on the same day.

A ninth wave hit at the beginning of the month, prompting local authorities to start evacuating the village.

So, what could be the force that’s knocking out people in this tiny village? Here are the most popular theories:

  • Wind Blowing from and Abandoned Uranium Mine

Kalachi is located about 37 miles away from a former Soviet Union ore mine in a ghost town called Krasnogorsky. The mine hasn’t been operational in the past two decades, but Rikhvanov told Newsweek that he believes radon gas could be emitting from underneath the ground.

In fact, elevated levels of radon have been found in the village, but doctors from Kazakhstan claim that it’s not the cause of the sleeping sickness.

  • Carbon Monoxide

On the other hand, Sergei Lukashenko of Kazakhstan’s National Nuclear Center Institute believes that carbon monoxide may play a role in the mystery. “Carbon monoxide is definitely a factor,” he told The Siberian Times. “We have some suspicions as the village has a peculiar location and weather patterns frequently force chimney smoke to go down instead of up.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning is usually accompanied by headache, vomiting, and dizziness, and while there may be an overlap in symptoms, this still doesn’t explain the very specific behavior of Kalachi’s sleeping sickness.

  • Mass Hysteria

Sometimes, when doctors cannot find any medical cause for an ailment, they resort to the theory of mass hysteria. Often marked by inexplicable and bizarre occurrences in large groups of people, mass hysteria is a mysterious psychological concept of its own.

It’s possible that the villagers of Kalachi, perhaps due to distress of some sort, have fallen into such a category.

There are essentially no answers to this mystery. Doctors have, at best, speculation, and educated guesswork. This strange illness is certainly discomforting, and I hope for the sake of the village, the cause is identified and contained in a timely manner.

Written by Katie McGuire. Follow Katie on Twitter @GOPKatie, or email the author at [email protected]


Writer, Blogger. Political aficionado. Addicted to all levels of government campaigns.

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