I recently came upon a interesting concept that pretty much completely goes against the grain of traditional sleeping.It’s called polyphasic sleep. Basically, instead of going to bed at night, hibernating for 7-9 hours, and waking up in the morning, this way of sleeping emphasizes taking short naps (about 20 minutes each) throughout the 24 hour day.
There are a few different schedules to follow depending on what your lifestyle is like (if you have a flexible job, have kids, like to party, etc.), but the ultimate schedule that caught my attention is called the uberman sleep schedule.
It consists of taking a 20 minute super-nap every 4 hours (for example 12am, 4am, 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm) bringing your total sleep for the day down to just 2 hours!! This completely blew my mind…
I actually had seen a few people talking about it on forums here and there, but I immediately concluded that they were idiots. There was no way in hell it could be healthy, let alone give you enough energy and recovery to function at any level above zombie-level.
Then a couple days ago somebody posted about it on 30bananasaday.com and for some reason this time it really peaked my interest and got me to actually look into it so I could pinpoint WHY it wouldn’t work.
I started reading blogs about people’s experiences on a polyphasic sleep schedule, and to my amazement, they lived to tell the tale, and even more amazing, they reported having more energy, better focus, less sleepiness, and more productivity! One such blogger, known as PureDoxyK, has even been adhering to it for more than 6 years now.
The uberman schedule is the most extreme, yet most beneficial if you can stick to the schedule without fail. It can also be the most unforgiving if you happen to skip a nap or shift your times too much (about 30 minutes is the most you can get away with), otherwise you will pay the price and feel like crap for the next day until you can get readjusted. It requires complete strictness with times.
There are alternatives, such as the everyman schedule, which consists of a core nap (somewhere between 1.5 hours to 4.5 hours – using multiples of 90 minutes) and a few 20 minute naps throughout the daytime. This can be much more flexible since there are less naps to tend to during the day (when most mortals are walking among us) and it also lends itself to more flexibility when it comes to shifting your times around. If you need to move your nap time around a couple hours you’ll be ok, whereas with the uberman schedule you pretty much have to schedule your entire life around 3:40 time brackets.
Anyways, I must be going crazy because I actually want to try the uberman schedule. The idea of having an extra 6 hours per day, 42 hours per week, 7 days per month, and 84 days per year, really gets me excited to be quite honest! I always feel like there’s never enough time to do everything – sometimes to the point where I get so overwhelmed that I end up getting paralyzed and doing absolutely nothing.
The other thing I really like about it is mental aspect. On a monophasic sleep schedule, you completely retire yourself for 8 hours, then when you wake up it’s like a big RESET button has been pushed. From what I’ve been reading so far on the blogs, people experience a continuous flow of consciousness in-between napping, kind of like being in a constant state of flow.
Needless to say, being the wild & crazy guy I am, I’m going to be experimenting with the uberman sleep schedule for the next couple weeks. Apparently the first week can be pretty hellish. A necessary part of getting your brain to adjust to this kind of thing is some major sleep deprivation. After you go without sleep for a long enough time your brain has no idea what’s going on. After a few days of sticking to the 20 minute naps, and obviously not getting enough deep & REM sleep, your brain goes into survival mode and has no choice but to find a way to make things work. It basically has to condense the commonly 90 minute sleep cycle into just 20 minutes.
Eventually, I should hopefully reach the point where I can simply lay down, go to sleep within a couple minutes, and immediately go into the REM and deep sleep cycles necessary for mental and physical recovery.