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Girl, 14, slept for 32 years and woke up as a 46-year-old woman

Emily Brown

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| Last updated 

Girl, 14, slept for 32 years and woke up as a 46-year-old woman

Featured Image Credit: Creative Commons

Ever woken up after a nap and felt like you've been asleep for decades? In reality it's usually only been a couple of hours - but not for Karolina Olsson.

Karolina, from Sweden, has become known as a real-life 'sleeping beauty' after stories emerged that she fell asleep when she was 14 years old, and woke up when she was 46.

I'm sure a lot of us probably feel like we could do with 32 years sleep every now and again - but the years Karolina spent snoozing weren't just the result of a rough week.

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Karolina managed to sleep for an entire 32 years (stock image). Credit: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels
Karolina managed to sleep for an entire 32 years (stock image). Credit: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

Let's start at the beginning. Karolina became the only girl in a family of five siblings when she was born on 29 October, 1861.

She grew up with her family as normal for the first 14 years of her life, but in 1876 she returned home one day with a swollen face and an excruciating toothache.

She told her family she'd slipped on some ice while crossing a frozen river, and when the pain became too much for Karolina to bear, her parents sent her to bed. Little did they know, she wouldn't wake up again until 1908.

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At first, her concerned family and neighbors managed to raise the money needed to have a doctor check on Karolina, but when they were unable to wake her, they simply set about conducting regular checkups.

Karolina was 14 years old when she fell into her long sleep. Credit: Creative Commons
Karolina was 14 years old when she fell into her long sleep. Credit: Creative Commons

Over time, Karolina's condition remained unchanged, even when she was taken to hospital and had an electric current put through her body in an effort to wake her up. Medics from a range of fields were baffled by her condition, as it defied conventional understanding of sleeping disorders.

Karolina's mother continued to care for her through their years, allegedly feeding her milk while she slept, but when her mother passed away in 1905 a housekeeper was brought in to help look after Karolina.

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Three years later, the housekeeper heard strange sounds coming from Karolina's room.

They rushed upstairs, and found the now 46-year-old woman staggering about her room, crying. She is said to have had no recollection of the 32 years she'd been asleep, and she no longer recognised her brothers.

Karolina was in her 40s when she eventually woke up. Credit: Creative Commons
Karolina was in her 40s when she eventually woke up. Credit: Creative Commons

Doctors flooded to test Karolina, and were shocked to find that apart from weight loss and acting much younger than her actual age, Karolina was largely unaffected by her years spent horizontally.

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She regained her strength and speech in a matter of weeks, leaving some people to speculate whether she really had been sleeping, or whether the entire ordeal was an elaborate rouse to prevent Karolina, for whatever reason, from interacting with the world.

Swedish psychiatrist Harald Fröderström expressed belief Karolina may have suffered some sort of psychosis brought on by a harrowing event, but to this day her story remains one surrounded by intrigue and mystery.

After she woke up, Karolina went on to live for another 42 years before she died in 1950.

Topics: Community, World News, Health, Science

Emily Brown
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