Viral Fear: 10 Creepy Urban Legends Spread by the Internet

3. The Russian Sleep Experiment

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This is one of those urban legends that we find ourselves really, really hoping that it’s not true but, as we’re reading it, we have a sneaking suspicion that there might be something to it. Stranger things have happened, of course, and it’s all based in something we’ve all felt at one point or another – like we would never sleep again.

The story details an experiment done by Russian scientists in the 1940s. It was supposedly done on political prisoners who were subjected to a toxic gas, keeping them awake for a target 30 days. Needless to say, they didn’t make it. Complaints turned into paranoia, which turned into screaming. By the time the experiment was 14 days in, they no longer wanted their freedom. On day 15, scientists discover that the test subjects were eating each other – and themselves. Still, they retained superhuman strength, fueled by rage. Researchers who tried to save dying subjects reported they refused anesthetic… and smiled as they were being operated on.

Brain waves flat lined, even though they were still, technically alive. Removal of the gas that was keeping them awake left them in a state of violent panic and finally, one was restrained enough that the researchers could force him to talk, and to tell them what he was. Madness.

It’s not clear whether it’s the sleep deprivation that causes their madness, or if it’s their sleeplessness, if they’ve allowed something inside their heads. But we’ve all been there, laying awake at night, unable to get comfortable, unable to sleep, knowing that we’ll need to get up in the morning and face the day with gritty eyes and aching muscles. Imagine that for night after night.


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About the author: Debra Kelly




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