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?
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.
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…”
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 then.
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