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Alchopwn

S.U.N.D.S. The Laotian Sleep Death Epidemic

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Alchopwn

In the wake of the Vietnam War and the continuing conflict in Southeast Asia, a large number of Hmong and Laotians became refugees in the USA.  Now the migrant experience is hard enough, but imagine everyone's surprise when members of the affected communitied simply started dying in their sleep without any discernable cause.  This became a matter that received medical attention and research, and eventually became known as SUNDS (sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome), and SADS SADS Link, among other english names.

I personally became aware of this phenomenon only because I was researching cases when it has been alleged that ghosts have actually killed people.

Yes, SUNDS has been attributed to the murderous appetites of a Laotian night hag called the Dab Tsog, and a video on the subject has recently been made by our YouTube Friends at Bedtime Stories:

The Curse of the Dab Tsog

However the matter has been the subject of a number of research papers.  Here are a couple:

Refugee Stress and Folk Belief: Hmong Sudden Deaths (1995)

Ethnomedical pathogenesis and Hmong immigrants' sudden nocturnal deaths. (1994)

The cases had been recorded and observed from 1977 in the USA.  In most cases the deaths were related to stress, whether that of the war, or PTSD, or the migrant experience, but may have had some other cause from the war such as adverse reaction to defoliants (that's entirely speculative btw),  but the communities that were actually experiencing the problem were heard to attribute it to the supernatural cause of the Dab Tsog.  It remains to be conclusively identified as to whether there is an underlying genetic trigger to SUNDS, but no doubt the matter will be resolved eventually, but what do we think if there is no genetic link proven?

I don't know if this material has been approached elsewhere on the Unexplained Mysteries forum, but as it counts as a medical oddity, despite being a potential ghost attack, I thought it should be mentioned in Science and Space.  I certainly won't object if an administrator wants to move this post to somewhere more appropriate.

 

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darkmoonlady

There is another sleep/death story involving a rare hereditary condition called Fatal Familial Insomnia caused by an inherited prion mutation. I know the sleep death among the Hmong have been researched but I also wonder if their change to an American diet/weight changes caused higher rates of Sleep Apnea. I've got severe sleep apnea and sleep with a CPAP machine every night, I'm curious if any research has been done to see if sleeping with a CPAP machine did anything to stop the deaths. 

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Alchopwn
Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, darkmoonlady said:

There is another sleep/death story involving a rare hereditary condition called Fatal Familial Insomnia caused by an inherited prion mutation. I know the sleep death among the Hmong have been researched but I also wonder if their change to an American diet/weight changes caused higher rates of Sleep Apnea. I've got severe sleep apnea and sleep with a CPAP machine every night, I'm curious if any research has been done to see if sleeping with a CPAP machine did anything to stop the deaths. 

As far as I am aware, the CPAP machine was invented in Australia in 1981, so as the SUNDS problem continued for many years I am sure it must have been used.  Apparently there was a cultural expectation of ghost attack associated with sleep paralysis in Hmong and Laotian culture that may have contributed to the deaths Dark Side of the Placebo Effect.  As at least some of the literature indicates that sleep apnea was a factor LINK one can suppose that the CPAP machines may have contributed to mitigating the problem, as it does start to seriously drop away after the early 80s.  It occurs to me that a lot of sleep paralysis was caused by faulty faux wood grain red LED alarm clocks that were prevalent in the period, due to their rather unique ability to catch the human brain in a Faraday field and induce sleep paralysis (plus the red glow was pretty eeire). I wonder if that contributed as well?

Edited by Alchopwn

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