"Russian sleep," and induced sleep in general

This is a sleep-inducing device invented in Russia in the 1950s. You supposedly place an electrode from the box on each temple EEG-style, start a timer, and fall instantly into a deep sleep until the timer runs out. Two hours under the “sleep set” were said to be equal to eight hours of normal sleep. My exhaustive Internet research has turned up a schematic of the device, but no solid information as to whether it actually worked. Larry Niven, who has used the concept in several of his stories, swears that he’s seen research proving that it performed as advertised. Now I, and I suspect many others, wouldn’t mind reclaming some of the one-third of my life spent unconscious. I wouldn’t wire the original device to my head on a bet - vacuum tubes, forsooth! - but it’s not complicated, and could certainly be redesigned with modern, and safer, electronics.
So, what’s the S.D. on this gadget? Is induced sleep even possible? This would be the perfect way to get through staff meetings in comfort, not to mention an extra six hours a day to hang out on straightdope.com

  1. If it did as claimed, do you not think that someone would have improved upon it and be selling it today?

  2. If it is not complicated and you have the schematics, then build it and test it out and let us know.

  3. There seldom seem to be any real short cuts with anything. You usually have to put in the necessary time.

Personally I like my sleep time and would not want to reduce it to two hours.


The very fact that it was invented by “the Russians” and has as its proponent, a science fiction writer is about all the evidence I need to doubt the validity of such a devise. Sounds like something you’d read about in the “Weekly World News”.

[QUOTE}1) If it did as claimed, do you not think that someone would have improved upon it and be selling it today?[/QUOTE]

Yes, and that’s a big strike against it. There are related gadgets on the market, though, that claim to induce alpha waves in the brain via modulated sound or light. I get the impression that the RS device did something similar, albeit more directly. It may be that it simply didn’t work; it may be that it occasionally put people to sleep permanently. <shrug.> If it was pure quackery that’s OK, but I’d like to know either way. There is such a thing as lost art.

<snort> Yeah, right. One shorted-out tube, and I get 90 volts DC straight to the brain.
I’d take a shot at reengineering the thing with transistors and a battery, but without a theory of operation and specs on voltages, frequencies, waveforms, & the like, I’d just be fumbling in the dark. The schematic offers few clues in this regard, many of the part IDs are missing or non-standard.

I’m convinced the device existed. Whether it did anything useful is another matter.

Time to replace the tinfoil in your wooly hat…

An AltaVista search on “+russian;sleep” turned up the following link, which even has a picture: http://www.ingersoll-rand.com/compair/sept98/mus_1.htm

Note that the link leads to a magazine story about the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices…

The device does exist and it does, in fact, work. You simply place the electrode on the temple, tape it in place, power up the machine, take three or four NyTol and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…