Russian Sleep Experiment: Myth or Fact
Wellness Russian Sleep Experiment: Myth or Fact?

Russian Sleep Experiment:

Fact or Fiction?

July 6, 2023 at 8:52 AM PST

Have you ever wondered how long the human body can go without sleep? This question becomes particularly relevant during times when, perhaps, you are the one having difficulty getting rest at night. An infamous experiment known as the Russian Sleep Experiment set out to answer this question. Though, the real reason it’s infamous is not necessarily the results that came about from the experiment, but rather whether the experiment was real in the first place. First discussed in “creepypasta” communities around the early 2010s, this urban legend continues to surface now and again on internet discussion boards and memes.

So, fact or fiction? Was the Russian Sleep Experiment a real laboratory experiment performed on prisoners to test a new anti-sleep stimulant for the Soviet army? Read on to find out.

The Russian Sleep Experiment Story

According to the story, scientists in the Soviet Union once developed a stimulant that they thought would allow soldiers to go without sleep for up to 30 days . They decided to use five prisoners as test subjects for their new gas, promising them their release after the test. They started pumping the gas in after locking the five men inside a hermetically sealed space.

Their behavior was observed using two-way mirrors while their discussions were electronically recorded. Everything appeared to be fine for the first few days. But on the fifth day, the soldiers gradually started to show signs of stress. They stopped conversing and went into a state of paranoia, whispering into the microphones about one another.


The screaming started after nine days. Two restless inmates began running around the room, shouting so loudly that their vocal cords nearly ruptured. However, the sounds abruptly stopped, and the chamber was silent. Fearing the worse, the researchers decided to open the chamber. The stimulant gas was replaced with fresh air on the fifteenth day. What they found was chaotic.

One of the inmates had died. The convicts had been horrifically mutilated, with flesh ripped off their bodies and stuffed down the drain. They refused to leave by force, striking back with a ferocity that none of the experts could have predicted. They fought vehemently against being removed and sedated; one even tore his muscles and ripped his bones apart in the process.

The researchers wanted to kill the inmates and erase all evidence of the experiment. Still, their commanding officer requested that it be restarted immediately, with the researchers joining the inmates in the locked chamber. The principal researcher, terrified, shot the commanding officer in the head. He then shot and killed the last surviving subjects before attempting to cover up everything.

Is the Russian Sleep Experiment Real?

The Russian sleep experiment was likely inspired by fiction. The story’s sole original source appears to be a website devoted to sharing spooky (and often made-up) tales. The author’s real name is unknown. However, the user who uploaded it uses the username “Orange Soda.” The problem is that this horrifying tale could very well be possible. After all, throughout the 20th century, experts have been researching the effects of sleep deprivation.

However, experts say that no scientific evidence supports the claim that gas, or any other chemical, can keep a person awake for 30 days. There is some validity, however, to the stories that amphetamines were employed to keep soldiers awake during historical wars. Still, there is no scientific proof that a gas could keep someone awake for even 15 days.


And according to studies, people start to become sluggish, bewildered, prone to errors, and ultimately less active after only 48 hours without sleep. A few days without sleep may be doable with some medications and large caffeine doses, but 30 days is not possible. A person can begin hallucinating even after a few days, making it very difficult to carry out even the most basic everyday tasks, let alone deal with military jobs that demand tremendous focus.

The Russian Sleep Experiment has developed a sizable fan base over the years, and considering its scary aspects and realistic details, its appeal is obvious. But it is crucial to remember that the narrative is made up and not based on actual facts.

The myth, however, serves as a reminder of the moral ramifications of conducting scientific research while having no basis in reality. It reminds one of the potential repercussions of meddling with human biology and altering physiological functions. It also acts as a cautionary tale about the possible risks of ignoring ethical standards of behavior in scientific study.

How Long Can You Survive Without Sleep?

The longest documented period without sleep is around 264 hours or slightly more than 11 days. Although it is unknown how long humans can survive without sleep, the symptoms of sleep deprivation become apparent very quickly. You can begin to hallucinate after only three or four nights of not sleeping. Sleep loss over an extended period can result in cognitive deficits, irritability, delusions, paranoia, and psychosis.

Most people struggle to stay up after two nights of not sleeping. They may experience brief episodes of light slumber lasting up to 30 seconds. During these “microsleeps,” the brain enters a sleep-like condition. Microsleeps occur unintentionally. You may feel puzzled or bewildered after a microsleep.

Staying awake for 48 hours also harms the immune system. Inflammatory markers, which aid in preventing and treating disorders, begin circulating in higher quantities. Research says sleep deprivation reduces natural killer (NK) cell function. Natural Killer cells are activated in the presence of acute risks to your health, such as viruses or bacteria.

Chronic Sleep Deprivation

Chronic partial sleep deprivation results when a person does not get enough sleep on a regular basis. It is not the same as pulling an all-nighter now and again. It is also more common than skipping one or two nights of sleep in a row because most individuals sleep for a few hours each night.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of American adults do not get enough sleep each night. Chronic partial sleep deprivation is linked to both short-term and long-term health hazards.

Russian Sleep Experiment: Stranger than Fiction?

The Russian Sleep Experiment was not a medical test but a myth. It is a potent illustration of how horror stories may affect thinking and how critical it is to consider what you read and hear. It also serves as a reminder of how strong your imaginations are and how people can tell intriguing and terrifying stories. Nevertheless, whoever created the story of the Russian sleep experiment deserves credit for their inventive storytelling, even if it lacks medical credibility.



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