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The uberman sleep schedule or everyman sleep schedule is one variation of what is called polyphasic sleeping. This is a practice adopted by many animals. Instead of sleeping in long chunks of time, such as the eight hours a night recommended to humans, certain animals sleep for short periods of time throughout the day and night. The matter of polyphasic sleeping, so named by Dr. Claudio Stampi, really came up to address certain situations where people had to go on very short periods of sleeping time, thus reducing total REM sleep. Stampi was particularly interested in how people in lengthy sailing competitions could sleep a minimum amount but still get enough REM sleep to function as needed.
Stampi proposed, and many have followed since, a variety of sleep variations where people sleep in 20-30 minute “naps,” on a very tight schedule. Stampi and others claim that people are able to immediately cycle into and maximize REM sleep, and thus get about two hours of this dream-laden sleep within a 24-hour period of time. Stampi’s idea, and the uberman sleep schedule are not exactly new. There’s evidence that several of the world’s deceased and yet most respected geniuses worked on very little sleep. Leonardo Da Vinci and Thomas Jefferson are usually named when the uberman sleep schedule is discussed.
The structure for the uberman sleep schedule is to take one 20-30 minute nap every four hours. Those who’ve tried the schedule insist that times must be strictly adhered to in order for the body to adjust to the different sleep patterns. These naps can’t be interrupted without causing you to lose on precious sleep. Some people vary the uberman sleep schedule by including a three-hour night sleep, but others sleep for only two hours total in a 24-hour period.
There are numerous Internet accounts of people trying the uberman sleep schedule, and blogging about the results. Consensus on the first two weeks being intensely difficult definitely exists. These blogs can in no way constitute actual study on whether polyphasic sleeping is likely to cause harm. Though REM sleep is important, so are other forms of sleep during a sleep cycle, and these cannot be addressed when using the cycle. Blogging participants agree that the schedule can only work when people can be rigid and remain non-interrupted during their set sleeping periods.
Some of the anecdotal claims regarding the uberman sleep schedule are that after an initial adjustment period, people feel mentally alert, and are able to get more done. In fact those trying this schedule should plan lots of activities, since boredom is a huge complaint. Hunger is another common issue. You should plan to have your refrigerator well stocked, since you’ll probably need to add at least one or two more meals to your day.
Is polyphasic sleep healthy? Most medical experts at sleep centers would suggest no, especially not for long periods of time. Evidence pointing to the way infants sleep is often cited for suggesting plans like the everyman sleep schedule are perfectly natural. These citations fail to take into account that infants may sleep in phases, but tend to sleep 15-20 hours a day. Other animals that use polyphasic sleep may also sleep for much longer than the two to three hours of sleep you’d get on this type of schedule. Sleep experts also contend that there is no way to “control” going directly into REM sleep, making some of the claims of advocates of polyphasic sleeping rather dubious.