What is causing Kalachi villagers to fall asleep for up to six days straight?
Scientists are unclear what is causing the mysterious Sleeping Beauty sleep syndrome that has affected dozens of villagers in the Kalachi village and nearby Soviet town of Krasnogorsk. Beginning in the spring of 2013, Villagers began seeking medical help for fatigue, weakness, drowsiness, loss of coordination, partial memory loss, and occasionally even hallucinations. By January 2014, patients were dozing off, collapsing where they stood, and remaining asleep for several days straight.
One woman, Lyubov Belkova, was selling clothes at her local market stall when she suddenly keeled over. Two months later, a woman who worked with Lubov at the market fell asleep in the same manner. Soon, all women at the small market fell asleep in the same way. So did their security guard.
Marina Felk, 50, a milkmaid in Kalachi, who fell asleep for two straight days, explained how the bizarre illness struck her:
“I was milking cows, as usual, early in the morning, and fell asleep. I remember nothing at all, only that when I came round I was in a hospital ward, and the nurses smiled and me, and said: ‘Welcome back sleeping princess, you’ve finally woken up’. What else do I remember? Nothing. I slept for two days and two nights. The women in my ward said that I tried to wake up several times, saying I urgently needed to milk my cows.”
The bizarre Sleeping Beauty medical mystery doesn’t just strike native villagers either – outsiders can be affected too. 30-year-old Lexey Gomwent went to visit his mother-in-law in Kalachi and was also hit by the sleep plague.
“I came with my wife to visit my mother-in-law. In the morning, I wanted to finish my work. I switched on my laptop, opened the pages that I needed to finish reading – and that was it. It felt like somebody pressed a button to switch me off. I woke up in the hospital, with my wife and mother-in-law by my bedside. The doctor found nothing wrong with me after a series of tests he performed. I slept for more than 30 hours.”
Kalachi and Krasnogorsk – top secret “closed” Soviet cities
In the USSR era, Krasnogorsk, which lies near the northwestern boundary of Moscow, was a top secret “closed” Soviet city. Inhabited at the time by several thousand citizens, it was operated and governed directly by Moscow, which also monitored the operations of a nearby uranium mine. It’s top secret status began when captured German V2 rocket scientists were settled in Krasnogorsk with their families. Today Kalachi has about 700 resident villagers and its “top secret” status has been lifted.
Scientists, environmentalists, and medical experts seek answers
One doctor diagnosed the bizarre behavior as encephalopathy of unknown etiology – in other words, brain damage. Victims simply begin to feel an irresistible desire to sleep. The village of Kalachi was visited by expert toxicologists, radiologists, neurologists and environmentalists, who after conducting several thousand independent tests, could find no cause, environmental or otherwise, for the bizarre sleep disorder (they even tested the local vodka supplies). The only possible explanation anyone can agree on is – psychological illness.
The sleeping illness seems to hit the village in waves with the first beginning in spring 2013 with waves following in May 2013, January 2014, March 2014, and May 2014. Thus far, between 40 and 60 people have been struck down by the strange sleeping anomaly.