Hoaxes & Rumors

Russian Sleep Experiment: Real or Hoax?

Russian Sleep Experiment: Real or Hoax?

A terrifying tale recounts the story of a 1940’s Russian sleep experiment in which five people were kept awake for fifteen days, followed by a horrifying chain of events. Is this story real or fake?

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The Story is a Work of Fiction.

The short fictional work entitled The Russian Sleep Experiment was originally posted in 2010 on the website CreepyPasta.com. This website is self-described as “a collection of various paranormal/scary short stories.”


Russian researches gave political prisoners a gas-based stimulant to keep them awake for 15 days as part of a scientific experiment. The subjects were sealed and monitored, with the false promise of freedom if they could successfully avoid sleeping for 30 days. Strange behavior by the prisoners in the early days of the experiment was blamed on the gas, but the subjects began displaying increasingly unusual behavior as their time in the chamber continued. Halfway through the experiment, the subjects appeared to calmly embrace their bleak conditions, despite horrifying circumstances within. After being briefly removed, the remaining subjects were ordered back in the chamber along with three researchers, but one of the researchers refused and demanded answers before killing his commander and the remaining test subjects.

This photo has been passed around with the Russian Sleep Experiment story.

This photo has been passed around with the Russian Sleep Experiment story.

The story ends with the following conclusion:

He pointed his gun at the remaining subject, still restrained to a bed as the remaining members of the medical and research team fled the room. “I won’t be locked in here with these things! Not with you!” he screamed at the man strapped to the table. “WHAT ARE YOU?” he demanded. “I must know!”

The subject smiled.

“Have you forgotten so easily?” The subject asked. “We are you. We are the madness that lurks within you all, begging to be free at every moment in your deepest animal mind. We are what you hide from in your beds every night. We are what you sedate into silence and paralysis when you go to the nocturnal haven where we cannot tread.”

The researcher paused. Then aimed at the subject’s heart and fired. The EEG flatlined as the subject weakly choked out, “So… nearly… free…”


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Although the story above is a work of fiction, stories of unethical 1940’s Russian experiments are not without precedence. It is possible that The Russian Sleep Experiment may have been influenced by historic events.

The film Experiments in the Revival of Organisms depicts 1940’s medical experiments by Soviet researchers which are shocking to the modern viewer, such as a decapitated dog head being kept alive by a machine.

A more modern example is The Stanford Prison Experiment from 1971 in which volunteers lived in a mock prison. It led to psychological collapses in some volunteers and a hunger strike by others.

Google Trends History

The Google Trends graph below shows linear interest in the search term “Russian sleep experiment”. Interest in the story peaked in May/June of 2014. Overall, interest has gradually declined since that time.


The short video below is a summary of our explanation of The Russian Sleep Experiment above.

Bottom Line

The 1940’s “Russian Sleep Experiment” is a work of fiction posted on CreepyPasta.com back in 2010. It could have been influenced by historic events such as 1940’s medical experiments by Soviet researchers or other questionable studies such as The Stanford Prison Experiment.

Updated December 6, 2014
Originally published September 2013

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  • crow

    I am a believer of this but maybe Hitler was the one that did this type of experimentation !

  • Derek

    That’s called sleep paralysis. It’s normal.

  • Chris Sinnott

    Even if this was real or not, this would make an awesome movie.

  • Boss

    I stayed awake for 13 days, through adrenaline (police chases and surrounded by psychopaths) and amphetamine and ecstacy.

    I did not experience any thing like this mentioned in the russian sleep experiment, even though turns out I was prone to mental health issues due to my childhood.

    It’s a great story, but highly doubtful if this ever could be true.

    • John

      These guys were being held with a certain type of gas which if real, could have triggered this reaction. Perhaps after a certain number of days, the gas merged with the human cells, which then created something new, or even, re-awoken something that has been shut off for hundreds of years.

      There are many cells in our bodies that are shut off/down. Much like our tail bone and wisdom teeth, these are parts of the body that we no longer need, and were used in the stone age. Through human evolution, we begin to change. Cells begin to shut down, while new cells begin to form. This is called adaptation.

      Humans are used to oxygen, correct? We cannot breath without it (Obviously). But What happens when this oxygen is merged with another gas?

      No one really knows why we sleep. To this day, scientist have only come up with theories as to why they believe our bodies need sleep. Sleep is a big part of our lives. Without sleep, the human body begins to sicken, thus giving the obvious theory that during sleep, our bodies continue a healing process. Now, I do believe this is something that sleep does, however I also believe there to be another reason. Something much bigger than the health of the human body.

      Now, I will be moving forward on to something that to most people, in which I have nothing against, will seem very insane and idiotic. So please, bare with me for a second. What if sleep is much more important than we believe it to be. Perhaps it’s even holding us back from something? Something incredible. Perhaps it is connected with adrenaline. Why not? They are both healing consumption. Here is why I believe that adrenaline is connected to sleep.

      I’ll start by explaining what Adrenaline is, exactly. Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands during high stress or exciting situations. This powerful hormone is part of the human body’s acute stress response system, also called the “fight or flight” response. It works by stimulating the heart rate, contracting blood vessels, and dilating air passages, all of which work to increase blood flow to the muscles and oxygen to the lungs. Additionally, it is used as a medical treatment for some potentially life-threatening conditions. Adrenaline pumps the body up so much that you may be able to pull off some “super-human” stunts, for example; Pick a car up even when un-trained and un-fit. It is said that mothers have picked cars off of their own children.

      Now, when you’re tired, you don’t have much energy. You become a bit weak. All you want to do is lay down on your comfortable bed. So, why was one of the prison experiments able to break an arm and fracture ribs? Strong enough to do this? While they tried to take him down, he went crazy. This sounds like an adrenaline rush. Here is where things begin to get really insane and “idiotic”.

      Let’s say God is real. And if God is real, then the devil must also be real, correct? Now, we’ve all heard of bodies being overtaken by demons (exorcisms), right? course we have. It’s scary stuff. This story seems to be giving off that vibe. By not receiving any sleep, these men began to get weak, and I don’t mean physically, I mean emotionally. Internally.Spiritually. I’m willing to bet that sleep may be connected to the human spirit. When we sleep, we dream. Everyone one of us dreams, whether you remember the dreams or not. It happens.

      Now, why do we dream? What is a dream?

  • Desean

    Ok this story is truly the scariest stories ever. They should make a movie on this.

  • Shawn ritter

    There are three organs that you need to stay alive without the help of machines. Brain, lungs, and your heart. It’s very possible to inflict such damage to yourself and yes, even spill out an Edgar Allen Poe like final sentence after all physical harm was done. If you read or listen to the story again you’ll notice the survivor was the one who hadn’t yelled till his vocal chords broke. Another thing, no there weren’t any specifics on what the gas was actually made of. Meaning this gas could have potentially contained huge amounts of materials that make your pain threshold THAT much stronger. Not to mention after a few days of being awake, let alone a week or more, all of your body becomes dull and less sharp except for your reaction time in your muscles. They begin to tighten and contract and while you MIGHT feel sore your body could still put out very decently. Everything else is fairly explanatory such as the feces and loss of blood. If you didn’t know 2 people found this helpful 40%, or greater, of the blood volume in an adult.
    40% or greater is usually considered the maximum amount of blood that an adult can loose before the body can no longer compensate. In an 80 kg adult this would be about 2.24 liters.

    A Class I Hemorrhage is usually considered 15%, or less, of an adult’s blood volume. In an 80 kg person this would be about 0.84 liters. At this level there are almost no signs or symptoms.

    A Class II Hemorrhage is 15 to 30% loss of an adult’s blood volume. In an 80 kg person this would be about 1.68 liters. At this level the heart will start to beat faster, and the person will start to look pale, and feel cool. This is the beginning stages of shock.

    A Class III Hemorrhage is 30 to 40% loss of blood. In an 80 kg person this would be about 2.24 liters. At this level the heart will be beating very fast, trying to keep up with the bodies needs. The person will look very pale, and start to be confused. This person is in shock, and in trouble. Fluids are needed very quickly.

    A Class IV Hemorrhage is as described above. This is usually greater than 40% and in an 80 kg adult this would be more than 2.24 liters. The body can no longer keep up with the blood loss and the person is in serious trouble. Without very fast help the person will die.

  • Lola Guin

    You’re ridiculous. There are two American continents, a northern and a southern. You’re arguing irrelevant semantics.

    • Esteban Delgado Ríos

      Only someone whose academic level is less than kindergarden would believe that crap about “two american continents.” There ONLY ONE AMERICA, the one that Américo Vespucio cartographed. Northern portion beyond norther mexican border is NOT part of América, it is “Eric’s land” (Eric the Red, viking leader and explorer). When you have studied as much as I have and you have obtained the academic level I have (Master degree), you will be half way from knowing what is the truth. And the truth is THE UNITED STATES IS THE ONLY EMPIRE IN THE WORLD WHICH HAS NO NAME OF THEIR OWN! That is why they had to steal the name of a whole continent and take it as synonym for themselves, because they have given NOTHING GOOD to the world, only took what the world can give and what immigrants created for them…

      • Justatroll

        Disagree on so many levels. If you want to assume that America is not named on it’s own you are unaware of its name. It’s not called America it is called the United States of America. Speaking of the North American continent. However, if you assume that “America is the only country with out a name of its own” you need to pick up a globe. Vatican city named after the Vatican South Africa self explanatory. Dominican republic, Korea Czech rebublic, Slovakia, Norway, Sweden, England, Scotland, Amsterdam, Poland, Siberia, Portugal, India, and many others wouldn’t have their own name according to your logic about Eric
        The red and Amerigo Vespucci… Your masters is not in geography I can assure you, nor is it in English, history, or economics. Any of these fields would help you understand part of the problems your comment created.

      • Derek Gregory

        Actually since the Pamona canal was created there are two continents. Technically. :)

      • gerald1974

        The United States is a collection of people from all over the world. Every country in the American continent has taken from the Indians that were here first. Other countries don’t like us because we can defeat them. We have better weapons because we developed them. To say we stole them is untrue. As I said we are a collection of people from all over the world.

      • Eric Blanton

        Its funny how people like you say things like how america has “given nothing good to the world,only took what the world can give and what immigrants created for them”. First and foremost, Americans are all immigrants, so if an immigrant made something for us then it was an american who made it. We havnt given anything good to the world? What about airplanes, automobiles, TVs, computers, the internet, refrigerators, etc. Or what about how we gave american lives to liberate the world from imperialistic Japan and Nazi Germany. Wth did your country do for the world. What did any of your neighboring countries do for the world. You invented swords? We invented the nuke. We didn’t take anything by the way. It was all given to us or brought over by us. Never once did we go to another country and say ” gimme your stuff!” And then took it. Yeah keep your anti-american hate to yourself. Talking about a masters yet you sound stupid. Who feels the need to capitalize the phrase “The United States is the only empire in the world which has no name of their own”. First of all ” the united states” is our own f-ing name. Second, the America’s was the name of the area before the colonization started. Regardless of what the f-ing native Americans called the land or what the vikings called it. The English and Europe chose a name and the stuck with it. Is that really the only thing you can hate about america? How our name isn’t our own? Dude for all your schooling it makes me wonder wth you were being taught in those classes. Did they really complain that america doesn’t have its own name? How pathetic is that. Enjoy the long peace america has provided for you. All those wars the world went through before 1945, be glad they don’t happen anymore. And another thing. Who calls america an empire? I mean really? You call yourself educated in history yet you cannot distinguish and empire from a democracy? America doesn’t imperialize scrublord. We didn’t annex Germany, France, mexico, Japan, Indonesia, China, Iraq, Vietnam, or Afghanistan. We don’t have an emperor. For someone “so smart” you would think correct terminology would be used and the absence of rash emotion like capitalizing whole sentences wouldn’t happen. Give me break.

  • dreamcatcher

    If you’re going to be a jerk, pick ignorant or moron. American has nothing to do with it since there are ignorant people everywhere, as you so wonderfully have demonstrated.

    • Destiel

      I find it funny that a site speaking of a CreepyPasta has comments arguing about America itself. It’s also kind of sad that people who are clearly smart are reduced to squabbling like children because they can’t put their pride or egos or whatever it is that makes humans so headstrong away for two seconds. I mean, just imagining that people like you could change the world, and yet you’re all here, on some stupid internet site bickering about what America exactly is. Believe it or not, people call America home.

      • http://wafflesatnoon.com Waffles At Noon

        It is rather strange how far off topic this discussion went!

  • christine

    it’s offense not offence stupid, sorry.

  • enactogen

    they should make a movie out of this..

  • kellar

    All though this is meant to be by KGB officials and the gas was called nikolayev gas it never says the components of the gas and the people who ran the experiment so it has to be fake

    • John Baker

      Not to mention that no human could survive the injuries the prisoners allegedly inflicted on themselves.

  • WhatMoreCanISay

    I didn’t sleep for three days once. That combined with smoking weed caused me to have sleep paralysis with hallucinations. Scariest shyt I’ve ever experienced. My kids were out of state with my parents and I heard them clear as days yelling and laughing downstairs. Then I heard them running up the stairs. The footsteps got louder and louder as if they were really there. I was lying in bed with my eyes open but I couldn’t move. I was staring at the door scared as hell. I was thinking if I see my kids in the doorway I’m gonna have a heart attack. I heard them up until the doorway then fear snapped me out of it I guess. I went to sleep after that.

  • shaun jones

    it is most likely false but i have taken heavy doses of psychedelic drugs and speed over the course of 4 consecutive days and some of the things i saw were trippy and great at first but by day 3 to 4 i was hallucinating shapes and people that were not there, i barricaded myself into my apartment cos i could visualy see different entities that were lurking outside,i know this is weird but but i saw thundercat like people outside,heard noises that made no sense and that was just the tip of the iceberg,we dont know what these people were gassed with so after my experience after only 4 days i cant say what so called happened with the russian sleep deprivation is a lie,plus these 5 people were told they would be freed if they stayed awake for 30 days, big incentive, maybe self mutilation was the only way for them to stop themselves from sleeping and the gas they were given could have been some kind of anesthetic based psychedelic gass like angel dust that allowed them to do the things that they so called done

  • Subject #4

    I tried this experiment at my house. Before the sixth day, I was ripping out my organs and eating them like ice cream birthday cake. On day eight, I couldn’t stop pooping everywhere; It didn’t bother me rolling around and laughing in my own feces, and I was able to paint the walls of my concealment. Day ten, I gauged my eyeballs from the pockets of my face, they dangled from my face and kept going into my mouth as I tried to eat. The worst part was day fourteen; an appendage fell off my body, and it wasn’t my arms or legs. I’m perfectly fine now, just with a few body impairments.

  • Harley Camron

    I died when I listed to this ( I saw it on youtube at 10:00 in the night ). I didn’t sleep the whole rest of the night, and didn’t take a shower because I was afraid the last creepy guy would pop out of the drain and chomp my foot. I know, stupid but I have been paranoid all my 11 years. It is the biggest relief ever to know this is fake. I could hear all night long as I ” slept ” the one dudes voice in the corner of my room from where strange noises emerge at all hours of the night, the loudest being in demon hour, 3:00 in the am hours.

  • Izz

    I knew it! I already noticed that the picture was fake and the story contains alot of failures. Beside of this, the experiments with the dog were real.

  • piti

    And again since i don’t know how to edit:
    It is even written on the top of the Page.

  • piti

    It is clearly stated on several pages that this IS fiction.

  • Franklin S.

    It was real you are crazy. You will live you life thinking that a bad date in time is really a fictional story!!!!

  • Jon Smith

    I don’t believe the story is real personally but if you are going to try and convince others you should show some kind of evidence. All you have is your opinion, the article, and the name of a website that posted it. Who is to say if the story was true and posted by the site because it was similar to other stories they post.

  • piti

    Besidse from being a fictional story it has realy some realism in it. Maybe not the parts with organs and veins stripped out, but the part with the things the test objects said.
    Many of the stuff could be caused through psychosis or stuff like that.
    The sleep depression would do that to people. Or even the Gas, from we dont know anything. The test objects seem to be addicted to it in that story and if this gas does that it implies that it is psychoactive and people can get addicted to it and also it would be realistic if it leads to psychosis because nearly every drug in high doses can do that.
    I saw the video on Youtube and because i didnt know that this is defacto a nicely written horror tale i asked myself if that could be true till the organ part. 😀
    And for the posts about filmstory;
    I could imagine a nice Zombitale out of that. 😀

  • lorenzo

    i really do beleave this story, it kind of sounds like there trying to cover it up …… but that is my opinion :/

    • Graves

      No, you’re just a gullible moron.

      • John Baker

        I admire a man who tells it like it is. :-)

        This story is impossible on the face of it. The horrific injuries the prisoners are described as having inflicted on themselves would simply not be survivable.

  • Tommy

    I really can’t believe this obvious glass. I am a life long insmoniac and had terrible bouts of sleeplessnes of and on all my life and I believe it had a huge impact on my personality and my difficulties in school. However,in October of 2000 I.suddenly stopped sleeping at all.Absolutely unable to fall.asleep.even for a few minutes.I tried everything I could,sleep aids, alcohol, meditation, herbs,such as chamomile,valerian,lavender.Nothing worked at all.I was awake five.days before I started having some psychological difficulties. Agitation,aural and visual disturbances.As another couple of of days passsed things got worse, I slipped intoa psychotic state of mind,I was completely unable.to make sense of my environment. Ultimately I went for twelve days no sleep whatsoever. On the twelfth day.I began having seizures and breaking into ice cold sweats. This is when I finally was taken to the local hospital. Although I had been deprived of sleep for twelve days I didn’t experience anything like the alleged soviet experiment. Ultimately my condition was diagnosed as Hashimotos syndrome and now I take a thyroid pill and have had to take a daily anti anxiety me in order to sleep

    • Mike Transkey

      Dude just let him have his fun with telling people lies. How do you feel about this hoax?

      • Ditte Maria Mikkelsen

        To be fair, there’s a difference between “intentionally staying awake without any use of substances” and a condition where you CAN’T sleep, which is essentially as if you had taken some chemical..
        You can hardly compare the two things. :)

    • piti

      Btw since i dont know how to edit:
      I don’t necessarily think that you are lying about your sleep problem and hope you’ll find a good solution to it. But i just can’t stand the twelve days part.^^

    • Metuha

      The world record is 18 days, recorded in 1977. Randy Gardner was the longest to remain awake under an experiment with no chemicals.
      He may not be lying at all.

      • Charmeine

        I too suffer from insomnia and sleep paralysis and wondered if this story was true. I believe the government does to a lot of experiments like this – that we will never know about. The longest I went without an inch of sleep was five days. That month, I maybe had 15-20 hours for the entire month. It does play with your mind. I too was going through severe medical issues, tests, and we tried everything from pills, melatonin to help with the sleep. I still struggle with insomnia but have never had it last longer than a few days at a time. I was seeing things by the end of the first week.

  • Sharon love

    This story horrified me to my soul & the pic with the creepy ass mask on, was crazy creepy & glad to know this is fiction!!! I think this should be made into a movie!! It would be one of the scariest movies ever!!

  • Lily

    THANK YOU! 😀 my older brother is a prick he asked me to listed to the story on youtube and I’ve been looking over my shoulder for days. Such a weight of my mind.

    • chrissy

      I know I am horrified here. Thank heavens for this truth brought to life.

  • Kayla

    Thank goodness for that! It’s one of the most horrifying things I have ever read, and I’ve read pretty extensively on WWII concentration camp events!

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