Creepy Russian Sleep Experiment on Prisoners: Fact Check

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The Russian Sleep Experiment

Russian researchers in the late 1940s kept five people awake for fifteen days using an experimental gas based stimulant. They were kept in a sealed environment to carefully monitor their oxygen intake so the gas didn’t kill them, since it was toxic in high concentrations. This was before closed circuit cameras so they had only microphones and five inch thick glass porthole sized windows into the chamber to monitor them. The chamber was stocked with books, cots to sleep on but no bedding, running water and toilet, and enough dried food to last all five for over a month.

The test subjects were political prisoners deemed enemies of the state during World War II.

Everything was fine for the first five days; the subjects hardly complained having been promised (falsely) that they would be freed if they submitted to the test and did not sleep for 30 days. Their conversations and activities were monitored and it was noted that they continued to talk about increasingly traumatic incidents from their past, and the general tone of their conversations took on a darker aspect after the four day mark.

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Fact Check:

A popular story in circulation online alleges to explain a Creepy Russian Sleep Experiment on political prisoners in the late 1940s. Russian researchers allegedly kept five people awake for fifteen days using an experimental gas based stimulant. Accompanying messages and pictures appear to explain the creepy and tragic end of the prisoners from the sealed environment. Thankfully, the deadly and scary sequence of events are not real and just a work of fiction, which originated from a story of CreepyPasta.

About the ‘Russian Sleep Experiment’

The story claims Soviet researchers sealed five WWII prisoners in an airtight chamber and exposed them to an experimental sleep-inhibiting stimulant gas to test the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation. It says from fourth day, the prisoners started talking about dark aspects of their life. After five days, they started complaining about their circumstances and became paranoid later. After nine days, one person started running around for hours shouting at the top of his voice -and perhaps tearing his vocal chords physically. In days later, all became silent to a point when the researchers wanted to go in and check their status.

The story goes on to say, the researchers went inside after fifteen days and got horrified to see the situation inside. Four of the prisoners appeared alive with hardly any signs of ‘life’ – having self-inflicted damage on their bodies. On the other hand, the fifth person appeared dead in a horrible way. They were also eating the human flesh instead of the food they were provided with. When the Russian soldiers tried to remove the prisoners, they resisted and the consequent fight led to death of some soldiers and the scary end of it all later in hospital.

CreepyPasta – Story of Fiction

The creepy story became very popular after its first, original publication around December 2010. Many people, both online and offline in fact thought the story is real and not a fiction. However, the creepy details to the story make it too good to be true, do not add up and unscientific. In fact, there are no credible reports to confirm the sleep experiment took place in Russia.

The disturbing story is rather an urban legend on internet. It was based on a Creepypasta – a fictional story published in December 2010 by an unknown author Ovalh3. The demonic figure often accompanying the creepy story is in fact a life-size animatronic Halloween prop called “Spazm”.

It is common in creepypasta stories to incorporate ghosts, demons and gory features. Another story about huge alien insects crawling over buildings in Russia was a Creepypasta based on Slender Man.

The Russian Sleep Experiment is of course one of the scariest creepypastas out there. It is so popular; it keeps surfacing online in different versions and languages. A novel based on the original story appeared in 2015. A psychological thriller movie based on the short story is expected to release in 2020. Note, the original article of fiction published the creepypasta as perils of sleep deprivation.

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Prashanth Damarla