The Cold War Russian Sleep Machine

Maybe this was just old Soviet propaganda, but I’ve heard rumors about a machine that you hook up to your temples at night, and it makes four hours of sleep feel like eight.

Did this thing ever exist? Were there any negative side effects, like, say, creeping insanity?

Because if it did, and there weren’t, I totally want one.

I dunno. I’m going to try to research it though, because if there is one, I want one too. :slight_smile:

They have a “Russian Sleep Machine” on display at the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis. If it worked, I would use it, even if it did cause creeping insanity.

Website with some info about sleeping devices from the USA and Russia:

(from the museum of quack medical devices mentioned by Mr. Scene.)

This site talks about induced sleep as a potential non-lethal weapon during the Cold War.

The Quack Medicine page implies that the devices are still sold and used in Russia. I’d be interested in what Cecil could tell us about these machines.

That looks rather lethal, but perhaps if we redesigned them and worked out all the kinks they’d sell like hotcakes. I mean, here we’ve got a thread about an appliance with four replies, and three of the posters want one. Who wants to capitalize on one hell of a business venture?

Does this come with a Tesla coil? I won’t buy anything from Russia unless I’m guaranteed a Tesla coil along with it…

How would something like this work? Does it deepen sleep somehow? Me, I prefer sleeping eight hours to four - there’s nothing to do in the wee hours but be quiet, so as not to wake the family. What better use of this time is there than sleeping?

Tesla built all of his coils in the States, as far as I know.

When purchasing quack medical devices, always buy American. :smiley:

I have one dad smuggled it in during the cold war anyone want one?

Not if it is thirteen years old.

Well there are quite a few pharmas in the pipeline that promise drastically shorter sleep times and feeling more refreshed than a regular sleep.
I wouldn’t hold your breath though: this has been something “just a couple years away” for quite some years now.

There are a couple of prescription drugs out there that sort of do this, but they have significant side-effects and are not recommended for routine, ongoing use by healthy patients AFAIK.

Even without looking at the links posted above (yet), I remember there was a substantial buzz in the news in the mid-1960’s or so about this. It was some electrical device, like mentioned above, that you put electrodes on your head (temples?) and it put you to sleep, and was supposed to give you a full refreshing 8-hours’ worth of sleep in half that time.

Then, after a couple weeks or so, it sort of just disappeared from the news (here in the United States anyway) and I never read any follow-up since, until this thread. It wasn’t even like cold fusion, which created some buzz but then got debunked and that created buzz too. The sleep machine just disappeared from the news, never to be mentioned again, as far as I ever saw.

NOW… To go read some of those links and see what they say. ETA: Oops, can’t. Both of those age-old zombie links are dead.

Since this is GQ, cite? Some pics will do.

Why intrigue to get an old smuggled one? These machines apparently are called CES for Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulator (or Stimulation), and they are available on the woo market. You can find lots of them – just google Cranial electrotherapy stimulation.

They might even work, kinda sorta maybe a little bit. Quackwatch seems to give an unenthusiatically tepid review of them, vaguely mentioning some vague studies that vaguely suggested that a few experimental subjects found these machines vaguely helpful; aside from being packaged and sold along with some garbage nutritional supplements program.

It’s supposed to induce electrical rhythms in the brain that are associated with relaxation, which supposedly helps with a variety of “mental neurology” problems: Insomnia, anxiety, headaches, stuff like that. The studies reviewed were all smallish (thus the meta-review of a bunch of studies to get a borderline useful sample size) and apparently were mostly NOT blindly done; but there seemed to be some overall benefit claimed by some of the subjects who got the real thing, which were not reported so much by the placebo subjects. The FDA allegedly approves them, as long as the purveyors are careful what benefits they advertise it’s good for.

Dr. Barrett (Quackwatch author) writes:

I remember an article on 60 Minutes or 20/20 regarding some bike race from coast to coast; one cyclist team employed an acupuncturist who knew how to hook up the needles to electrodes and make 2 hours sleep feel like a full 8; the rationale is to minimize non-cycling downtime.

Whilst satisfying the mental need for sleep, wouldn’t this be rather insufficient for that aspect of sleep repairing worn tissues, particularly with daily intensive physical activity ?

Sounds like an early version of the’Russian sleep experiment’ creepypasta, a tale where prisoners in the '40s were kept awake with a stimulant gas and things…went wrong.

It’s almost 11pm over in Sydney, did you really have to share that before I went to bed? :eek::eek::eek:

The Russian Sleep gizmo figures prominently in the Larry Niven book “A Gift From Earth”, where it is used to restrain prisoners. I assumed it was a convenient device for the plot and did not work as advertised.

HA! Just today I was rereading “The Defenseless Dead” (part of the Gil the ARM series), and the Russian Sleep machine made an appearance. Niven sure liked to get hooked on certain things and repeat them a lot.

Goes along with what this thread says - the device was prominent and interesting news around 1970 when he was writing this stuff… so he probably took it at face value and incorporated it into stories.