The Uberman Sleep Technique and Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

Eli Ben-Yehuda

Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda

On October 7, 2020

They say there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Where these geniuses cross the line may be in their sleep schedule. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci followed a sleep pattern similar to the Uberman sleep technique.

Maybe that is how he was able to invent such things as the parachute, helicopters, hang gliders, and paint such things as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Other famous people such as Winston Churchill, Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla swore by the same sleep schedule.

How Much of Our Life is Spent Asleep?

According to the National Institute of Health we spend 33% of our life asleep. That turns out to be 26 years of our life spent in bed. I understand that sleep is important. But 26 years worth?

What is the Uberman Sleep technique?

The Uberman Sleep Technique is a sleep schedule consisting entirely of 20-minute naps, spaced equidistantly throughout the day. In its traditional form, Uberman is 6 equidistant naps throughout each day. A 6 nap schedule (2-hour total sleep) will consist of a nap every 4 hours, it will have a 2 hour BRAC (Basic Rest Activity Cycle)and a 4 h rhythm.

An 8 nap schedule (2 hours, 40 minute total sleep) will consist of a nap every 3 hours, it will have a 1.5 hour BRAC and a 3-hour rhythm.

Uberman Sleep Technique is the most popular and famous of polyphasic sleep schedules because of it’s 2 hours sleep total. It should be noted that only about 5 percent of the population can get by on just 6 hours of sleep, so perhaps only 5% of people can do this schedule comfortably.

A much higher percentage of the population may find an 8 nap schedule more sustainable, as the extra 40 minutes sleep can make the difference between sleep deprivation and health.

Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

Polyphasic sleep is known to sleep researchers as a variant of a sleep pattern that is set in opposition to monophasic sleep. In monophasic sleep, an individual or an animal sleeps in a single block during a single wake-sleep cycle of 24 hours.

Polyphasic sleep is also set apart from a biphasic sleep in which there are two blocks of sleep in 24 hours, i.e. the night sleep and the typical Latin siesta – the “6th hour nap”.

Polyphasic sleep is quite widespread in animal kingdom. In a recapitulation of phylogeny, human babies also sleep polyphasically, and gradually lose their nap slots until they become roughly biphasic around the age of one. Human adults, as much as all great apes, are largely biphasic.

Although a majority of westerners do not nap on a regular basis their alertness shows a slump in alertness in the middle of the subjective day. This slump can consolidate in a short block of sleep in free-running conditions.

The theory behind the Uberman’s Sleep Schedule is that with some effort, we can entrain our brain to sleep along the ancient polyphasic sleep schedule and gain lots of waking time on the way, mostly by shedding the lesser important stages of sleep (e.g. shortening Stage 1 of NREM, which seems to be just a transition state to the more “useful” stages of slow wave sleep).

Now, it must be understood that physicians do not recommend this type of sleep schedule – unless you are an insane genius who has crossed the threshold of normality. Of course, this schedule may allow you to get more done, but for how long no one can be quite sure.

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