Over the years, I’ve read alot about polyphasic sleep — and how you could survive on much less than the (ostensibly) recommended 8 hours a day. Even though I typically sleep less (about 6 hours a day), that’s still an enormous block of time in the long run (25% of my life). If there’s a way to bring that down to the advertised 2 hours (!), I’m game.
My schedule is pretty flexible these days, so this is something I’m planning to attempt for the next 30 days.
- Sleep for just 2 hours a day (in a rolling 24 hour period).
- Post a daily log with feedback.
I relied on this source alot as I plan on implementing the “Uberman” schedule (there are several varieties available, but this is the most extreme). It describes the optimum sleeping approach (minimum amount of sleep required to get you through a reasonably productive day). I figure if I’m going to try this, might as well go all in.
It involves taking 6 naps a day, every 4 hours for 20 minutes each. That’s it! The timings I picked are midnight, 4am, 8am, noon, 4pm and 8pm. I started the experiment on December 15th, 2016.
The article recommends staying awake for 24 hours before attempting to transition into this sleep plan, but I didn’t want to do that (I know I’d lose a ton of productivity in the process). Instead, I just decided to sleep all night (as usual), and start taking naps from 8am onwards (every 4 hours).
Day 1 (15th December):
I could not sleep in the morning or afternoon (I’d get some rest, but 20 minutes was just too short to really fall asleep before the alarm rang). However, at night I was getting increasingly tired .. so I was able to get some proper sleep at around midnight and 4am. Naturally, I’d wake up still feeling pretty sleepy, but after a few minutes I’d be back to normal.
Experiment going great so far! Let’s see if this keeps up.
Today was not a good day for science, as Brain would say. Everything was going just great all morning — I found that I could sleep just fine within the allotted 20 minutes. But at midnight, I slept for 20 minutes and then for another 7 hours! My alarm rang but I didn’t even budge. Still, I’m not giving up. Will skip all the naps until 8pm and then resume. Will update this later.
Slept at midnight, until 4am! (at least it was less than yesterday’s 7 hours). Skipped 8am nap. Will continue naps from noon onwards.
Take a wild guess. Yeah, slept at midnight and woke up 7 hours later! Now that I think about it, I do recall reading somewhere on the polyphasic sleep website that you’re going to need someone to actually wake you up the first few days while your body adapts.
Here’s the quote:
No one has EVER adapted to Uberman without the help of others, often in the form of a human alarm system.
Half of me wants to just rig up some sort of circuit that will electrocute me to wakefulness when 20 minutes pass, and the other half just wants to give up on this experiment. For now though, I’m pressing forward. Skipped all the naps during the day, and will take my first 20 minutes at midnight. Let’s see what happens this time.
Today, I decied to trick myself. Insteald of sleeping at midnight and not waking up till 7am, I’ll sleep at 11pm. That way, my wife can wake me up in 20 minutes — and I would’ve won.
That’s what I did. Slept at 11pm, woke up 11:20pm feeling fresh and went on until 3am.
Then I slept … for 5 hours :(
Maybe this whole idea wasn’t so great. Maybe it’s a sham — and maybe no one’s actually done it for man than a few days without falling in a ditch in midday. Still, I promised I’d try it out .. and try I will.
However, I figured I’d make a change. Rather than attempting the gruesome “Uberman” plan (6 naps x 20 minutes each = 2 hours / day), I could try something less dramatic … and later ease back into the Uberman schedule.
I checked the list and found the more approachable-sounding “Everyman” schedule. A smooth 3.5 hour core sleep, with 3 x 20 minute breaks throughout the day for a total of 4.5 hours.
That’s what I’m trying tonight.
The trick didn’t work .. I slept right through the alarm (which I didn’t even hear, despite being a light sleeper) for a grand total of 7 hours, not the 3.5 hours I was shooting for.
I’m going to try this one more time today. Overall, I’ve been feeling less productive, more agitated (and according to my wife, less cheery). What’s worse is, I’ve actually been sleeping more, on average, than my previous 5 - 6 hours a day!
One more shot, tonight.
Went to sleep at midnight — and woke up at … 7am. Experiment over.
What I learned
- I didn’t think much of this experiment coming in — low risk, high reward right? Wrong. Messing with sleep can lead to serious reprecussions; not physically mind you (I felt fine), but I was drained mentally. I recall the last week being a week characterized by overall dullness. I even felt depressed at times (with thoughts of what the heck I was doing with my life). My wife described me as gloomy. I was changed.
- Even worse, I actually ended up sleeping more as a result of my sleep deprivation. I’ll go back to my 5 hour a day sleeping schedule now, thank you very much.