Most people over the age of ten or so sleep monophasically; that is, they have one sleep phase per day (younger children often nap and of course babies sleep at all the wrong times). Other animals do not necessarily get 8 solid hours, and in fact the idea that people need 8 hours of sleep is only a couple hundred years old - prior to cheap artificial light, all you could really do when the sun was down is sleep so people mostly slept according to the length of the nighttime.

Polyphasic sleep refers to any pattern where your sleep is taken in more than one chunk. Spanish siestas are an example of this, and Spain has the only culture I know of that is not generally monophasic. Other, more unusual polyphasic patterns are those involving multiple naps per day, and sometimes no large chunk of sleep at all.

I became interested in polyphasic sleep some years back but only recently did I realize that here at Instructables, I had an organization that might allow me to experiment with different sleep patterns. Instructables is ALL ABOUT weird shit like this. So I and my boyfriend are making the attempt.

The pattern we are using is to nap for 20 to 30 minutes every four hours, throughout the day. (This is sometimes referred to as the Uberman pattern, although personally I dislike this term.) This comes out to about 2 - 3 hours of sleep per day, broken up into bits. The theory behind it is that after a week or so of sleep deprivation and general bleariness, your body adjusts to the short but regular naps and goes directly into REM sleep. Thus after a while you are getting enough sleep and feel fully rested - but you have an extra 5 or 6 hours every day to do Stuff in.

In this Instructable I'll document my experiences with polyphasic sleep. I'll write one step a day for a while, and once I settle into the pattern - if I settle into the pattern - I will add a step occasionally as something interesting occurs to me.

Google Search in case you want more Internet-style information.

Step 1: The Details

My schedule will be to sleep for 20 minutes (or thereabouts, I will work out the exact timing as I go along) at 1, 5, and 9 (AM and PM). This means two or three naps at work, and I have brought in a bean-bag chair to sleep in. Doesn't it look comfy?

For the first week or two, I expect to be rather unhappy. According to The Internet, world's greatest authority on everything, the reason most people who try this fail is that they do not keep a strict schedule, and their body gets confused and doesn't adapt. They mostly fall asleep during non-nap times. To mitigate this risk for myself, I have made a list:

Things to do instead of sleeping

  • Study Chinese
  • Write javascript iPhone drawing site
  • Projects (see aroundto.it)
  • Organize under stage
  • Practice cello or er-hu or guitar
  • Paint or draw
  • Exercise/stretch
  • Play Q*bert
  • Mess around on the Internet (OK to call it research)
  • Write javascript games
  • Email / call people I don't talk to enough
  • Sew things
  • Cook
  • Shop for groceries
  • Read all those books I haven't had time for yet
  • Organize money
  • Play chess or go (or other games)
  • Dye bondo
  • Weld surface from washers
  • Weld grating for upstairs
and of course,
(Some of those aren't going to be clear to people who don't know my house, but you'll survive not knowing about my upstairs grating or the conditions underneath the stage.)
<p>As someone who has used a similar sleep schedule for extended periods off and on for over 20 years I encourage you to not give up trying. I have found that my creativity increases dramatically when I am in a non-standard sleep pattern. </p><p>Your attempted sleep schedule sounds very ambitious and not very restful. The best patterns for myself I've found is right up to about 1.5hr sleep / 4.5hr awake. I have always thought the &quot;uberman&quot; schedule does not provide nearly enough sleep. Particularly REM sleep for those that have a hard time getting into a deep sleep state. I for one can enter REM sleep almost immediately when I go to sleep but I still find the extra time benificial. </p><p>The most important piece of advice I can give you is that you really need to first master the ability to wake yourself up without an alarm of any kind. Anyone can learn to do it but if you have always used an alarm clock it can be hard to train yourself to wake at a desired time. </p><p>The best way to start is to be aware of your own body and what it feels like when you need 6, 8, 10 or 12 hours sleep. You learn that by keeping track of your bedtimes and wake times on weekends for example. Then once you have a firm grasp of how each of those feel, just count back from when you want to get up and go to bed at an appropriate time based on how you feel. From there you can experiment on trying to wake yourself at specific times before your alarm goes off.</p><p>The major problem with using any timing system outside of your own body to wake you up is that it will inevitably wake you in the middle of an REM cycle. Just one such interruption can not only ruin the benefit of that one sleep cycle but it can actually make you feel worse than if you had never fallen asleep at all. If you must use an alarm clock use a sunrise simulator as this will not jar you out of an REM cycle but mostly allow you to gracefully awaken out of it.</p><p>Another suggestion I would make is to not jump so suddenly into such a drastic change in sleep. Every time I have transitioned into or out of this sleep cycle I have done so gradually over the course of 2 or 3 weeks. The key is to adjust either the total ratio of sleep in the day, or the times at which you sleep but NEVER both at the same time. For example I will typically cycle between the two (reducing sleep time or increasing frequency) at least 4 or 5 times over the course of a few weeks until I reach my desired cycle. A great indicator that you are neglecting one or the other is that you are just tired. </p><p>Properly done it is possible to transition from a standard mono cycle to a ploy cycle and back without ever feeling overwhelmingly tired. The key is to not try to force your body to adjust to the clock but adjust the clock to your body. Which is just a way of saying, if you are waking up groggy, you need to sleep longer, or not go as long between sleep sessions. Ignore the clock on the wall and listen to the clock in your body.</p><p>The other big thing to consider is that you absolutely must must cut out any stimulants or depressants. (caffeine or alcohol for example) In a normal single phase sleep cycle your body has time to metabolize these while you are awake and before they affect your sleep cycle. However with a shortened sleep cycle your body never has time to do this and they will mess up your sleep.</p><p>For me this last one is why I never keep with a poly sleep cycle for more than a few months. I like coffee. </p>
This is how it feels to have Fibromyalgia... It's like you're in college during finals and never sleeping. :(
I'm experimenting with polyphasic sleep, the uberman cycle. It's been a really difficult challenge to be honest, and I've overslept several times in the first week. But I'm on day 7 now and at least half of my naps have included vivid dreams and even a moment of lucidity. Here's a link to my blog update of days 5 and 6 <br> <br>[www.endersadventures.com] <br> <br>I'm going for 30 days and logging the whole experiment on my website. After that point, I'll decide whether I want to do polyphasic sleep long term or not. I hope my post is helpful for those wanting to try polyphasic sleep themselves and a good read for those simply curious about polyphasic sleep. <br> <br>Aloha! <br>Ender Ayanethos <br>Lifestyle Design Entrepreneur <br>www.EndersAdventures.com
In the 1980s I did shift work in group homes for a couple of years sometimes with another staff person. For a 10-month stretch, I worked 11pm-7am Monday through Friday and would sleep during the day, getting to bed around 9 am. I never usually got enough sleep and had the most vivid dreams. On weekends, it was impossible not to sleep at night as I had activities during my normal sleep time and people to meet. Darned near forgot who I was. I am very much a daytime person and I do admire those who can sleep at will and sleep anytime.<br><br>
I am re-doing this experiment and plan on posting my journal for it so people will see the effects it has on you each day. I give all credit to you however for giving me the guidelines on doing it
This would be my experiment, I hope to anyone who watches this will enjoy it. Go <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-stay-awake-for-48-hours/" rel="nofollow">here</a> to my instructable for more info and tips to stay awake. Thank you!<br> <div> <iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/7mYdg1A3Itc" width="560"></iframe></div>
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/48awake" rel="nofollow">48awake</a>
Hi. I sleep between 10 to 12 hours a day and it's really getting to me. It afects the rest of my life in a big way. I essentially have to choose between having a night life or a day life because one of them has to be sacrificed so that i can be awake during the other.&nbsp; It's driving me crazy. I did a sleep study and was diagnosed with alpha arousal disturbance, whatever that means. The doctor prescribed a drug to keep me awake but it made me vomit and i was told there was nothing else they could do for me.&nbsp; I would like to try polyphasic sleep and see if that could reduce the amount of time i sleep. The problem is that i've been trying to get up after only eight hours of sleep and to take a nap in the afternoon only i can't seem to get out of bed. I've set five alarms to go off in the morning but it doesn't help. Please if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.<br />
get rid of all your alarms
Ice cold water, and a hitting stick.<br />
I used to sleep just 5 hours every other night and was fine with it, used to get loads done, I learned to play instruments, did electronics projects and generally lived far more than those around me, I've also never owned a tv which mean s doubly so I did lots of productive things. I only got into sleeping longer and every night when I got a girlfriend who demanded I come to bed every night (I wish that was as good as it sounds!) and not wake her at 4am, so I ended up getting used to 6-7 hours every night. I'm not trying to get myself back into the every other night thing as it was great. by the way I think one of the things that allows me to perform better at this is not having an alarm, when I was 18 someone bought me an alarm clock as a pressie when I got a new job. for the first two weeks of that job I felt rough as anything. so I took the batteries out of it and thought if I'm late I'm late. but I wasn't, I woke up on time. I've since worked out that I can tell myself what time to wake up as I go to sleep and I always wake to the minute on time feeling great. and yes that includes when I have a flight to catch at 4am etc, I can go to sleep happily telling myself to wake 3 and a half hours later and I will, I now trust myself far more than any alarm. if you turned off your alarm and simply went to sleep telling yourself you must only sleep 30 mins I think you would never have over slept.
Oh one more thing, the setting myself to wake up thing only works if I know there is no alarm set, if someone else says &quot;I've set an alarm for 7am&quot; then something in me decides to forget about trying and just relies on that. I don't have an alarm in my room and I've not woken late in the last 10 years.
It's funny, I always set my alarm when I have something important I have to wake up early for, and on those nights I don't get any sleep. Typically I set my alarm 2 hours head of the time I have to be at a place, and hour of getting ready and because I use public transport, and hour to get there, so usually it's set to 6am. <br><br>l normally go to bed at 2am, but when I'm busy or tired 1, so roughly 4 to 5 hours of sleep, but when I set my alarm, I'm waking up every hour to look at my alarm. It's suppose to wake me up, but I can't even sleep because I'm making sure the alarm is working. I then end up waking up 30 mins before the alarm goes off and literary laying in bed counting down for the alarm to go off. <br><br>So alarms, I might have to reconsider using them, for quality of sleep, though I don't wake up tried when I'm up all night checking on it, it's just I enjoy sleeping.
Knowing they are there definitely messes with your ability to sleep.
I just came across this experiment that was done in 1938 and wondered if you had seen this or not:<br> <br> <div class="media_embed"> <object height="385" width="480"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/xMH9eF5Bq70&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/xMH9eF5Bq70&hl=en_US&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480"></embed></object></div>
I think the best time to begin this experiment is when you know you won't have any important events that interfere with the schedule.&nbsp;&nbsp;That way, you don't have to worry about sticking to your schedule in the middle of the event.
Middle eastern countries have "siestas" (obviously called something else, but when I was in Iraq we weren't exactly there to learn about the culture) but it stems from the horrific heat. At about 1100 people shut down thier shops and go inside, have a small meal, and pass the hell out. When its 160(F) (about 72 C) outside nobody wants to do anything.
I have this "thing" with the amount of sleep I get and how I feel when i wake up. Its kind of hard to explain, so I'll make a chart: Large amount of sleep (10+ hours): I feel great! Normal amount of sleep (8-9 hours): I feel good. Slightly below normal (6-7 hours): I feel like crap. Very below normal (3-4 hours of sleep): I feel good Abnormal (3- hours): I feel very good, but not great. All-nighter (no sleep [doesn't happen often]): I feel great, but I'm a bit sluggish. Yeah, so that's my wacky sleep system.
I have exactly the same pattern. it doesn't work several days in a row tho.
For me, an all nighter would be- Friday-midnight: it feals like i'm in a dream but i know i'm not Saterday: i feal more real but slightly sleepy and i don't go to sleep till ten Sunday: i feal perfictly normal (it has been a while sense i've done this)
well it's 1:32am when i post this i don't really feel tired
Last time i did something like that my head got all screwed up, I took a nap on the lounge, woke up thinkin it was monday and got dressed for school. Then i looked at the clock and it was 4 in the afternoon on Sunday.
what's that called anyway, its like a lucid dream only backwards
Apparently people cycle through the different stages of sleep over about three to four hour cycles. How you feel when you wake depends on what stage of sleep you are waking from, so (assuming your sleep cycle = exactly 4hrs) 8hrs is fine, 4hrs is fine, but 6 1/2 hours leaves you feeling like crap 'cause you were dragged out of the deep sleep phase.<br/>
Yup, Thats EXACTLY how i am--somebody should do a study on that....
Mine is even weirder.<br/><br/>Large amount of sleep (10+ hours): I have an extremely hard time getting out of bed, even if I can't fall back asleep. By bed time, I crash like a kamikaze plane.<br/><br/>Normal amount of sleep: (8-9 hours): Still sleepy, yawning all day, by bed time I'm wide awake.<br/><br/>Slightly below normal (6-7 hours): I feel great. Slightly sluggish for 20 minutes, but throughout the day, I'm perky.<br/><br/>Very below normal (3-4 hours): I can easily wake up, though my balance and depth perception are still slumbering. Some issues keeping my mind on tasks, but I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all day. Hard to fall back asleep at bed time.<br/><br/>Abnormal (-3 hours): Crap crap crap crap. Extremely difficult getting out of bed, can't stop yawning all day. Anything that requires thinking becomes impossible. I want to sleep all day, then when I get ready for bed, I'm buzzing around like I'm on coffee.<br/><br/>All-nighter (no sleep): Extreme waves of wide awake and damn near dead, depending on what I'm doing. I pull all-nighters a lot when my sleep schedule gets screwed up, so I'm more used to this than anything.<br/><br/>Also, I can't take naps. If I'm well-rested, trying to sleep is impossible unless I'm *completely* relaxed (read: never). If I manage to lie down and catch some z's, I refuse to wake up for another 5+ hours, and then I'm wide awake. Hence why my sleep schedule gets screwed up and I'm used to all-nighers, haha.<br/>
you should never over sleep its like a computers memory over filling so it has to dump the whole thing and start over. or overcharging a battery it wont power as long. ETC. ETC. ETC.
I was told once that the amount of sleep you get one night will affect you the day after next. For instance if you don't sleep at all on Friday night, you will feel pretty bad on Sunday. Your odd sleep system may become logical when looked at this way.... just a thought.
Well it is believed that when one looses a tremendous amount of sleep and you go to bed and you can only get about 4-6 hours and you can't sleep any more you really fall into rem sleep. Average time is about an hour to 3 hours of full rem sleep so if you do full REM then you need no more sleep but the rest of the hours allow you to heal like when you exercise your muscles it tears and healing makes them stronger. If you go all day you experience wear and tear. other than that that much sleep is all you need but the mind need to be trained. Navy seals practice it but they don't sleep for five days except every 4 hrs look here <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/10/polyphasic-sleep-log-day-1/">http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/10/polyphasic-sleep-log-day-1/</a> <br/>
I get the same.
Same here, it's weird
I have a really hard time getting to sleep, and when I wake up it seems like the more sleep I got, the more tired I am in the morning.
The "no sleep" part DOES NOT happen often. Forgot something there.
I have a similar sleep pattern
Wow, this is some crazy stuff. Perhaps you should look into making a soft-wake alarm that slowly brings up the brightness of a light and slowly bring up the volume of an alarm. Something like this could wake you up without scaring you. The light especially could prepare you for the sound and maybe you'll wake up to the light alone.
they sell those! but they are hella expensive.. MAKE ONE
What about the <a rel="nofollow" href="http://xkcd.com/320/">28 Hour day</a>?<br/>:P<br/>
You might want to try studing people who work shift work. most who work afternoons an night develop a polyphasic sleep pattern and have difficulty returning to a monophasic pattern when their 2 week shift ends
This concept is not new...Buckminster Fuller introduced the concept with the idea that participants would have more productive hours per month. It was his "Dymaxion Sleep" model. He named everything Dymaxion, even his children. Okay, maybe not his children, but he was sure stuck on that name! Read more about his sleep process online. He abandoned it after a couple of months. I think the problem is the inability to achieve REM sleep with a 30 minute nap, resulting in symptoms of sleep deprivation.
Try being physically active during your day, like working out or playing a sport. There's no way in the world your body can recover from using this "sleep" system
Oh, I forgot. I've recently spent alot of time with elderly folk. I believe babies and the elderly they sleep often this way.I think this is why they say that older people need less sleep. I think it may be just more natural.
I've heard that chi kung (qigong), practice or certain meditation causes you to need less sleep. I've done practice before, fell off of late. I think that what you do is go into a mild hypnotic state. Similar to when you are starting to doze off, and your mind is &quot;defragging&quot; / stream of consciousness. I know that when done correctly it is similar to a nap.<a rel="nofollow" href="http://wcco.com/health/stress.relief.qigong.2.621819.html">http://wcco.com/health/stress.relief.qigong.2.621819.html</a><br/>
cool! we have the same keyboard. i'm using it to type this comment!
Spain is not the only culture that has the so called polyphasic sleep pattern. Many Middle Eastern people/cultures practice this because of the hot temperatures during summer seasons. It really comes down to productivity, economy of time and feasibility. This instructable is not very good, why don't you come up with something truly useful?
They had siesta in Mexico, at least in the small town I went to.
I have that desk (i think, if it's from ikea) and i have that macbookpro as well.... lol nice office
I have those same trees!!

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