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Sleep Med. 2004 Jan;5(1):97-100.

Sleep and sleep disorders in Don Quixote.

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Service of Neurology, Institut Clínic Malalties del Sistema Nerviós, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, C/Villaroel 170, 08036 Barcelona, Spain.


In Don Quijote de la Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes presents Don Quixote as an amazing character of the 17th century who suffers from delusions and illusions, believing himself to be a medieval knight errant. Besides this neuropsychiatric condition, Cervantes included masterful descriptions of several sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep deprivation, disruptive loud snoring and rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder. In addition, he described the occurrence of physiological, vivid dreams and habitual, post-prandial sleepiness--the siesta. Cervantes' concept of sleep as a passive state where all cerebral activities are almost absent is in conflict with his description of abnormal behaviours during sleep and vivid, fantastic dreams. His concept of sleep was shared by his contemporary, Shakespeare, and could have been influenced by the reading of the classical Spanish book of psychiatry Examen de Ingenios (1575).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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