Hoaxes & Rumors

Russian Sleep Experiment: Real or Hoax?

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


In the story, 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.

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”. Search interest on the topic was low for several years until it surged in 2013. Interest in the story peaked in mid-2014, although smaller peaks in interest have occurred in 2015.


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.

Despite being “debunked” for several years, interest in this story has remained consistently high since mid-2013.

Updated July 7, 2015
Originally published September 2013

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  • Jean

    This has just recently been adapted into a horror novella. Check it out – http://www.russiansleepexperiment.net

  • Bobby Sprague

    I’m not saying it’s real and I’m not saying it’s fake. But what would you all do if it was real. I’m not sure if it is or not. But to just think about having something that dark and twisted lurking very deep in my mind trapped and everything, honestly scares the s**t out of me.

  • Esteban Delgado Ríos

    Did I ask you about the way I should use my spare time? If you are not paying for my Internet, then you have nothing to say. And I would never apply for the Yankee citizenship even if that was the only way to get a job, I don’t want to be robbed by uncle Sam with taxes to support murderers. My nation may not be perfect, but at least we do not waste our money in supporting trained murderers.

    • Marsh

      Hey I was just reading all these comments and I agreed with both sides, so I was going to ask, is there a reason why you feel as strongly as you do?

  • Derek

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

  • Chris Sinnott

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

  • Desean

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

  • 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

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • chrissy

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

  • John Baker

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

  • 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.

  • 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. :)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • Esteban Delgado Ríos

    Ignorance at its best. Let’s take the class again:

    1. A continent cannot be broken by a canal, because continents are taken from the undersea continental platform upwards. The canal makes no difference as it is just a scratch on the surface and does not reach the platform. Therefore, there is only one American continent.

    2. The idea of calling the southern portion of the continent as South America was a decision taken on the grounds that the isthmus seemed to be too small and insignificant to be taken into consideration, that was before the creation of submarines, so they had no clue about the continental platform.

    3. America’s name comes from Amerigo Vespucci, Italian cartographer who was hired by the Spanish crown to cartograph their territories (as well as Portugal’s) in the New World. Therefore, only the territories which belonged to Spain (namely, everything from Mexico to the south) and Brazil (Portuguese colony), including the islands of the Caribbean, can be properly called América. Only Latin America is America.

    4. Concerning the U.S., they were originally discovered by Eric Leaf’s group way before the first trip of Christopher Columbus, and several historians can prove the fact that vikings were the first Europeans to set foot on the shores of the New England area. Therefore, the U.S. should be called “ERICSLAND”, after its discoverer, Eric the Red.

    5. The U.S. is the only nation in the world that has no name of its own. Brazil is THE UNITED STATES OF BRAZIL, Mexico is THE UNITED STATES OF MEXICO. Only yankees had no idea about what name they should give to their land, so they stole the name of a whole continent, which is an insult to all of the american people.

  • slapnuts_69

    By that reasoning, all continents are actually connected as one, since they all connect via the ocean floor. Try again, you’re getting pathetic.
    Once again, Australians claim to be Australilans — oh my, the name of a continent. So you lose that argument as well. Time to pack up go home.

  • Esteban Delgado Ríos

    Of course I point to the ones that are jerks and enemies of human kind. I know some fine folks over there, but they are the exception, not the rule. It is the responsibility of those of you who are humans instead of just being Yankees to teach everyone how to be respectful of other nations and their identity and to be humble to accept facts about the world.

  • Marsh

    1. It’s not just Yankees, we are a people, a civilization that is called The United States. If you Look on a map you’ll find the North America label, even the central and South America. It’s like this not because someone from United States named it, but because it was called that by the explorer. So you can’t hold that above our heads. 2. There are many, I mean many things this country has done that shouldn’t have happened, but they did so let the past be past. Like you said they’re are some fine folks here so stop calling us Yankees because to me your making it sound like we all suck and are horrible.
    3. We call it America because yes Amerigo Vespucci discovered this continent, therefore later on a German map maker who’s name I can’t even begin to spell made a very large and serious map. In this map he called this continent the Americas. So yes we did in fact Adopt the name. Right after the revolutionary war. 1776 the new goverment made a decision, The United States or probaly colonies then because they were United, America was added because It Along with the other two continents were named America. So my guess is they just said why not.
    But if I’m wrong and you know the correction, please do correct me. I can take the criticism. :)

  • Bobby Sprague

    It’s nice to know that you have a sense of humor but what would you do if this was real. We wouldn’t be able to find out without medical help. Our bodies usually shut down and we pass out after 3 days without sleep I believe.


    Oh my, me and my girlfriend are in tears. Best thing I’ve read in a long time

  • Justin Douglas

    Clearly you’ve never used drugs. Your body will not shut down after 3 days and you will not pass out either until you stop using whatever drug you choose to use. Now you might wind up in a sort of vegetive state after a good week, but for every user its different. You do become quite paranoid after 4 or so days.

  • Katie Bertinet

    Yes, if you’ve ever been/know any serious meth addicts, they stay up for weeks and I’m not joking, weeks at a time. They talk to what they call “shadow people” and are extremely curious/scary to watch. At least with meth, after 3-4 days without sleep (depending on the person, body weight, how much meth they are used to using) the mind started to hallucinate. This is not an effect of the drug, but rather sleep deprivation. And if you continue, it just gets worse and worse. You start picking your skin, hallucinating things in/on your body…paranoia, thinking you’re constantly seeing things out of the corner of your eyes, can’t sit/lay still, constantly moving around, often cleaning/organizing. I literally was in a room with one and they asked a question and I turned around and answered, and they replied, I wasn’t talking to you. No one else was in the room. Even though this is fake, I believe something quite similar could very possibly happen, over more time than just 2 weeks though… But overall, the story was very interesting.

  • Heroes

    Actually the continent that ‘Australia’ is on is actually called Oceania. It is though falsely referred to as Australia. Oceania is the real name

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