Friday, December 15, 2006

Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

My coworker(Carl Youngblood) mentioned to me a practice called "polyphasic sleeping" recently. The popularized term is "uberman sleep schedule", as popular as it can be. Basically you sleep for 20-25min every 4 hours. The obvious result is that you have 5-7hrs more in the day. Many people also report better energy levels and mental functioning. There is also a psychological effect due to the solitary evenings that can be good or bad depending on your personality. The transition period can last up to 2 weeks if you are doing it mostly right and ranges from rough to hellish. It is basically sleep deprivation until your body modifies your REM cycle. Some people think it works by cutting out the other stages of sleep, however research done by Claudio Stampi and reported in "Why we nap" indicates that our REM cycle adjusts itself to our sleep pattern.

Buckminster Fuller thought that the reason that you can meet your needs this way is that you are constantly refilling your energy needs such that it doesn't take as long to recharge.

I have been following this schedule since Tues Dec 12. Last night(Wed-Thur) and yesterday(Thurs) were very hard. Although my body still has a lot of adjusting to do I have found lots of good tips and I seem to be understanding my sleeping needs in the new context.

The hardest part of the whole process for me was maintaining my commitment when it seemed so difficult and I didn't know if it was going to turn out beneficial or even healthy. The next hardest part is of course keeping your eyes open when they are lead and your brain isn't functioning. That isn't to say I haven't had any difficulties. I have had problems with body temperature and digestion that are somewhat common during the transition period.


Heather said...

So, my questions are the following: How does your wife feel about this? If Greg were on this schedule I don't think I would like it very much. Also, How does your job feel about you sleeping for a half hour every four hours? Third... what about Early to bed, Early to rise? You don't think there is any wisdom in that?

Anyway, I don't think I would ever do it, but I will be interested to be updated on how you feel it is helping you. It sounds like an interesting theory.

Another reason I don't think it's particularly wise is simply that with so much free time in the late night hours with no one else around, it would seem to me that Satan could have some good plans to lead away your mind, or whatever. That's all I have to say. Think about it, and tell me what you think.

curzona said...

There are a few people at school who do something similar to the polyphasic sleep cycle. They go home and sleep for a couple of hours and then sleep for another 2-3 hours before they go to school. I've done it sometimes but dad never seems to respect my sleeping, he always wakes me up "so that i can get to sleep at night." If you sleep during the day you don't need to sleep during the night. Anyway I like the solitude. It seems like I never turn off my ears so I pick up on a lot of little noises, it really bothers me. The cold and the night both have a special kind of solemnity to them. I like it.