Whether you’re looking to gain a few extra hours or simply think you don’t need the sleep, the controversial Polyphasic Sleep Cycle, also known as the Uberman or Ubermesche Sleep Cycle, could be your next big thing. For many, the thought of giving up on eight hours of sleep seems horrendous, for others, significant amounts of waking time may be just what they need to get more done.
The jury is still, largely, out on the benefits of sleeping in short bursts. Known as Polyphasic sleep, it’s observed in many mammals who, for hunting or security reasons, must adapt their sleeping schedules to their environment. Health humans on the other hand are monophasic, but if you’re one of those looking to get on the band wagon for less sleep then know the road ahead will pit you against thousands of years of evolution.
Do You Really Need Less Sleep: ask yourself this question, write down the answers, and think about whether or not your current schedule can me modified to let you sleep for a full night and still get things done. If you can manage to reorganize or re prioritize your day, then a polyphasic sleep cycle is unneeded.
How Much is Enough: There are several schools of thought on how to go about the Uberman schedule, but in a general, sleep will be broken into short burst, either 4 hours in 4 one hour naps or a single block of 3 or 4 hours of sleep. Those considering this method may want to try some trial and error and remember that it takes time to fall asleep as well, so they will actually be getting even less than the sleep allotted to begin with.
Time is on Your side
Perhaps the most difficult thing to accomplish is staying awake for the first few nights. As your body readjust to sleeping less it will be imperative to keep yourself busy. You may want to try knocking off a few to-do list items during this time but be forewarned that the “i didn’t get enough sleep” feeling will be around for a few weeks until your brain adjusts to your new REM cycles, and anything requiring large amounts of attention or brain power is best left on the back burner.
This is a good time to take up a new hobby or personal interest, be it reading an old favorite, scrap-booking, cleaning the house or simply catching up with old friends.
Where is Everybody?
While all that extra time may come in handy, people interested in this type of sleeping schedule should remember that while they may be awake, others will be asleep and need to understand that they will be on their own for many hours of the day.
What About Work?
It would be advisable to take some time off or pick a time of the year when your work load is light before diving in to a Polyphasic Sleep Cycle. Note: Being groggy and inattentive for a few weeks could have negative impacts with your employer and coworkers.
There have been no significant studies on the Uberman or Polyphasic Sleep Cycle in humans, but the effects of long term sleep deprivation are well known and include:
Lack of concentration
Accelerated Heart Rate
Conclusion: Are You Ready for It?
If you are willing to take on the risks associated with sleep loss, then the Uberman Sleep Cycle could be for you. If you manage to hang with it for any length of time you may very well find yourself in a whole new world with seemingly limitless amounts of free time, but any individual thinking of putting themselves through the physical and mental sluggishness required for polyphasic sleep adjustment, should try to compress their schedules as much as possible and try to avoid needing a Polyphasic Sleep Cycle at all costs.