No one knew much about sleep.
In this sentence, what does "about sleep" modify, the verb "knew" or the pronoun "much".
If I change this sentence into passive,
Not much about sleep was known.
Not much was known about sleep.
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- No one knew much about sleep.
The preposition phrase about sleep is not a Modifier of the noun phrase much in this sentence. It is the second Complement of the verb know. The verb know is taking a Direct Object, much, and a preposition phrase complement about sleep.
We cannot passivise this sentence without changing the meaning because the negation of the sentence depends on the negative subject no one. But if we take the Original Poster's alternative passive sentence, we will see that about sleep cannot be part of the Subject, because it still appears at the end of the sentence in the same position.
This shows about sleep was not part of of the Direct Object in sentence (1) and therefore cannot be modifying the word much.