The Russian Sleep Experiment —What Happens When You Don’t Sleep For 30 Days

by Anjala Farahath

What’s your idea of a good night’s sleep? Wrapped in a blanket, dressed in pajamas, tucked in a springy mattress, with muscles relaxed, eyes shut, lights out, and taking off on the journey to the world of dreams. Does that kind of sleep seem like a far-fetched dream to you? Well, that’s okay. Not many of us sleep like a baby these days. Getting the required 6-8 hours of sleep is a luxury that only a lucky few can afford. In fact, a lot us are sleeping lesser than we think we do (1). But have you ever wondered how your body would react if you deprived it of the valuable slumber sessions? What could happen to you if you went sleepless for days together? Well, if you ask me, without a good night’s sleep, I’m capable of becoming The Hulk.

If you have noticed, you would know that when you sleep less, the next day is likely to be a grumpy, cranky, and groggy one. You tend to be less focussed, more agitated, and more hangry.

That’s because getting a good amount of Zzzs is vital for our wellbeing, else it could leave us physically and mentally stressed (2) (3).

As curious beings, we never leave any stone unturned when it comes to research. Of late, the internet has been buzzing with an experiment called the Russian Sleep Experiment. It is also known as the Orange Soda. To understand what really happens to humans when they are deprived of this basic need— sleep—a research group conducted a cruel experiment on prisoners, in the 1940s. The experiment was conducted to find out the effects of absolutely no sleep on human health for 30 days. The experiment was so inhumane and monstrous that it even reading an account of that sends down shivers down our spine and gives us the creeps. This came to everybody’s notice after a popular website that publishes horror stories published an article about this ruthless experiment. Let’s find out what the brouhaha is after all.

What Was The Russian Sleep Experiment?

Source: Youtube

As the story goes, this experiment dates back to the 1940s, in the Soviet Union, when the WWII culminated. During this phase, under Joseph Stalin’s long regime, there were forced labor camps, under his administration, Gulag or Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp Administration. These camps housed inmates who were literally forced to work themselves to death.

According to the popular narrative, five of these prisoners were selected and offered a deal. They were told that if they participated in the research experiment, they would be released from the Gulag prison. They were promised freedom in return to 30 days spent in a chamber filled with psychotropic gas that would deprive them of sleep. Five prisoners agreed to be a part of this month-long trials and tribulations.

How Did It Affect The Prisoners?


Initially, the subjects went crazy. They were screaming, screeching, yelling. But then a sudden silence dawned upon them. Five days into the experiment, the situation is said to have gone out of control. The food had been untouched after the fifth day. One of the prisoners had died and there were chunks of meat from the dead subject’s thighs and chest in the drain. The other four subjects had portions of skin and muscle torn out of their bodies, which were in fact, self-inflicted. The observers saw that the exposed bone on their wounded fingertips was also self-inflicted.

The subjects had ripped off the skin and muscles of their abdominal region. Apparently one could see their digestive tract digest their food, which happened to be their own flesh eaten by the subjects. At this point when the researchers switched off the gas, to which the subjects pleaded to turn the stimulant gas on again. They apparently showed astonishing strength, so much that they even harmed the soldiers who were helping the scientists in the experiment.

Eventually, they were pacified, yet they showed unstable mental condition. Here’s a video of the entire story-
Disclaimer: The images might leave you traumatized as they are gory and horrific.

While the story is a blood-curdling and spine-chilling account of how sleeplessness can affect the human mind and body, the reality of this story might be far from true. Videos and images of this experiment have been on the internet for a while now after Creepypasta published a scary “urban legend”. This legend has remained popular ever since, but fortunately, this is just an exaggeration of the possibilities of sleeplessness. Till date, there has been no gas that can keep humans from falling asleep, so that nullifies the entire story.

That said, while the Russian Sleep Experiment is a work of fiction, here are a few things that could happen if you are sleep deprived.

Facts About Sleep Deprivation


If there’s one true friend, it’s Science! It backs us up on everything, even about getting enough sleep. This is what happens to you if you are sleep deprived, and no kidding, this is scientifically verified.

  • Loss of sleep affects our attention span and alters the ability to focus on environmental sensory input
  • A lot of accidents and mishaps occur due to lack of sleep. It makes you less effective at work and it leads to misjudgments of situations (4)
  • Young adults and children are at more at risk that comes from negative effects of sleep deprivation.
  • If not deliberately induced or encouraged, sleep deprivation can be a symptom of an underlying medical issue or an undiagnosed sleep disorder.
  • You’re at risk of sleep debt when you don’t get your required amount of sleep.

So, next time anybody stops you from sleeping, enlighten them with these facts. Also, don’t get fooled by popular works of fiction like the Russian Sleep Experiment.

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Anjala Farahath

Anjala Farahath is a 23-year-old tall mess under a hijab, trying to fit into the world of crop top while traveling nonstop, converting her passions into her job, and occasionally soaking in the raindrop. Do you think she needs to stop?