Fact Check

Was the Russian Sleep Experiment Real?

An account describing the horrific results of a 'Russian Sleep Experiment' from the late 1940s is a work of modern creepy fiction.

Published Aug 27, 2013

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Claim:
Account describes the horrific results of a "Russian Sleep Experiment" from the late 1940s.

A popular creepy online tale of a "Russian Sleep Experiment" (with the improbable title tag of "Orange Soda") involves Soviet researchers who kept five people awake for fifteen consecutive days through the use of an "experimental gas based stimulant" and opens as follows:

Russian researchers in the late 1940's 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 5 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.

[Remainder of article here.]

This account isn't a historical record of a genuine 1940s sleep deprivation research project gone awry, however. It's merely a bit of supernatural fiction that gained widespread currency on the Internet after appearing on Creepypasta (a site for "short stories designed to unnerve and shock the reader") in August 2010.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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