How can you get away with only 2 hours of sleep per day?
To the uninitiated, this question might seem like one outlandish, even pointless inquiry.
However, if you are familiar with a little bit of trivia about historic geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla, you would know. Several anecdotal reports claim that these legends reportedly implemented a similar sleep schedule and espoused its benefits in fostering their creativity.
Cutting your sleep down to such meager amounts can happen quickly. Mothers understand. Get a baby, begin caring for it, and you should adapt fully in no time—albeit with a considerable amount of lingering daytime tiredness and brain fog.
Adjusting to such sleep patterns while maintaining a decent amount of performance, and even increasing your creative potential, now, that’s the hard part.
Plus, if you are one of the many that hold fast to the mantra of “8 hours sleep a day, good,” the alarm bells in your head are already ringing, warning you of potential disaster.
However, this relatively complex system of sleep has no shortage of arguments that back it.
First, you have the alleged recommendations from renaissance men of the past. Also, a growing number of enthusiasts fervently champion the many benefits of these unique sleeping patterns.
Are you looking to optimize your sleep further while winning back a few extra hours for work and play? Polyphasic sleep schedules like the Uberman Sleep Cycle may just be the answer.
What is the Uberman Sleep Cycle?
The Uberman Sleep Cycle is a form of polyphasic sleep (sleeping in multiple phases) pattern that involves only taking six short naps spread out throughout the day. This sleep system entirely ditches the standard 8-hour nighttime sleeping block for a series of phased naps that only add up to 2 hours of total rest.
The term Uberman has roots in the German word “Ubermensch,” which loosely translates to super-human. This term was initially coined in the early 2000s by writer, blogger, author of Ubersleep: Nap-Based Sleep Schedules and the Polyphasic Lifestyle, and seasoned polyphasic sleep practitioner, Puredoxyk.
Since then, the Uberman Sleep Cycle has grown to become the most popular polyphasic sleep type, with thousands of adherents worldwide.
This sleep pattern consists of 6 20-minute naps spread out equally over every 24 hours in its standard form. Consequently, sleepers following this system get to sleep for 20 minutes after every 4-hour interval.
Other non-standard variations of the Uberman Sleep Cycle include non-equidistant versions with variable intervals and an 8-nap schedule that consists of a nap every 3 hours for a total sleep time of 2 hours and 40 minutes.
While there isn’t detailed research into the long term health effects of adhering to the Uberman Sleep Cycle, avid practitioners report sustaining the schedule for multi-year periods with any severe health issues.
Proponents of this sleeping style claim many benefits, including reducing idle sleep time, fewer spates of daytime tiredness, and a significant increase in productivity and life satisfaction.
How to Get Started
In theory, implementing the Uberman Sleep Cycle seems like a reasonably straightforward process. You simply have to stop using the typical 8-ish-hour night-sleeping block and opt to take a twenty-minute nap every four hours.
In practice, however, getting started with this sleeping program is no easy feat.
Like with any radical changes to the body’s rudimentary systems of operation, with sleep pattern change, you will be going up against deep-rooted habits set in early childhood. Plus, your body has automatic systems like the circadian rhythm that will continuously work to thwart your efforts.
However, if you are willing to make the jump, we have got your back irrespective of the initial uphill battle.
First things first—you have to prepare your mind for this voyage into new sleep.
Before you jump into the Uberman Sleep Cycle, you must first understand the significance of the commitment you have to make.
Unless you are your own boss, varying your sleep pattern, this drastically could cause severe scheduling problems. For many 4-hour runs of waketime will be insufficient to function appropriately in the workplace.
Hence, before embarking on this plan, ensure that you have enough flexibility in your schedule to make it work.
For some, getting it to work may involve being inventive with finding sleep time. For example, people who work regular jobs should consider fitting one of their nap times into their lunch breaks.
The key takeaway here is to ensure that the Uberman Sleep Cycle is a practical one to embark on in your situation.
If you have set your mind on polyphasic sleep, but don’t have the scheduling leeway to make an Uberman Cycle work, you can consider other less tasking options like the Everyman.
The Infamous “Zombie Mode”
Another critical factor to keep in mind is the strain the adaptation period will have on your performance. With such a considerable change in your sleep pattern and severe reduction in the amount of sleep you are getting, you should expect a marked drop in your cognitive function, especially during the adaptation period.
For some, subpar performance over an extended period is not feasible. If you fall into this category, you should consider postponing your Uberman start for a less tasking time in your life.
Consider fitting your start and adaptation period into a vacation, or well, a pandemic.
Two hours of sleep per day is a far cry from the official recommendations. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the optimal amount of sleep for adults aged 18 and up is 7-9 hours daily.
Consequently, sleeping per the Uberman Sleep Cycle will be considered sleep deprivation by many experts.
Hence, if you have any chronic preexisting health conditions, you should check in with a qualified professional before embarking on a sleep change that is this drastic.
One report by the UK’s National Health Service links sleep deprivation with the onset or worsening of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Severe sleep deprivation can also have adverse effects on immunity levels and mental health.
For a healthy individual, trying out this sleep cycle may pose little to no risk. However, if you fall into any of these risk populations, we recommend staying off polyphasic sleep attempts until receiving a go-ahead from a qualified health practitioner.
Now, your mind is fully ready to take on polyphasic sleeping with the Uberman Sleep Cycle. It’s time to make the jump.
There are two main methods for getting started with the Uberman Sleep Cycle. Method one involves incrementally transitioning your sleep style until you reach Uberman status, while method two is a more cold turkey-based approach.
Method I: Ramping Up
This method involves gradually adjusting yourself to polyphasic sleep. Here, you get a slow ramp-up to the Uberman that reduces the intensity of any adverse effects you feel from switching up your sleep cycle.
Hence, this method is often the easier of the two for people who must maintain a decent functionality level through the adaptation period.
Plus, easing yourself into progressively shorter sleep cycles significantly ups your chances of completing the switch successfully. As you shift cycles, adapting to the next level is far less tasking on your body’s system than making one massive jump to Uberman.
However, one major pitfall of going this route is that the adaptation period can take an extraordinarily long time.
When using this method, participants should start by switching to biphasic sleep, then triphasic sleep, progressing a level up until they reach Uberman. At each stage, you should stick to that schedule until you are entirely comfortable with it. Then, you can progress.
Monophasic: Regular single-block nighttime sleep.
Biphasic: Dividing your sleep into two blocks that total up to between 5-7 hours per day. One option is to fit the two sleep phases into the night. Here, you go to bed at sundown, wake up and stay active for a few hours before going back to bed and sleeping till dawn.
Alternatively, you can break your sleep up into 5-6 hour core sleep at night and a half-hour to a 1.5-hour siesta around midday.
Triphasic: This stage involves breaking your sleep into three 1.5-hour sleep periods spread out equidistantly throughout the day. The sleeper takes a nap at sundown, another before dawn, and the third one during the afternoon.
Total sleep time in the triphasic stage adds up to around 5 hours, with a 6.5-hour interval between each nap.
The Biphasic and Triphasic Sleep Cycles are smooth segues from standard Monophasic sleep as they both roughly align to the human circadian rhythm.
Everyman: This sleep cycle is one of the more popular polyphasic sleeping methods. Members of the community praise it for its effectiveness while simultaneously complaining about its adaptation period’s difficulty.
The Everyman Sleep Cycle consists of three progressive levels: Everyman 2, Everyman 3, and Everyman 4.
All three levels feature an ample core sleep and several naps. You start with Everyman 2 with a core sleep of around 5 hours and two 20 minute naps. Everyman 3 reduces the core sleep period to approximately four hours and adds an extra nap. By Everyman 4, the core shrinks to around 2 hours, and you get four 20 minute naps.
Uberman: By Everyman 4, you have all but made the transition to a nap-only sleep style. The jump to Uberman from here is meager and shouldn’t cause much stress for most sleepers.
Method II: Jumping In
For the daredevils amongst us, method II is sure to prove more attractive. Not to brag, but that is our preferred method too. If you are going in, why not go all-in?
Here, you simply quit the monophasic cycle immediately and for good, go through the adaptation period, and come out an Uberman.
Most experts in the world of polyphasic sleep recommend that you begin this process with an all-nighter
You should aim to stay awake for between 24-36 hours to throw your regular sleep rhythm out of whack completely
Hold this spate of wakefulness until you experience a rise in energy levels, known colloquially in the community as “second wind.”
Then, you should take a nap and continue to take one every 1.5 to 2 hours. Continue this system until you can make such frequent naps at ease, and you no longer feel sleep-deprived during waketime. This stage should last for about 2-4 days. However, you can take as much time as you need until you feel comfortable moving on.
The next and final stage is to adjust your sleep schedule and begin napping for twenty minutes every 3 or 4 hours. The 3-hour interval adds up to an 8-nap cycle, while the 4-hour interval version works out to a 6-nap cycle.
Some even more hardcore enthusiasts chose to ultimately ignore all the previous stages and jump straight into a 6-nap or 8-nap cycle. However, we do not recommend this route, as it can be daunting to execute and excruciating on your body system.
6 Tips for Increasing Your Chance of Successful Adaptation
1. Get Your Alarm System Right
The Uberman is not a natural sleep cycle. Hence, you should expect your body to do its best to fight against it, especially in the beginning stages. Trying to fight this battle on your own is pointless.
On your journey to becoming an Uberman, you should recruit as much help you can find. Get a dependable and aggressive alarm system.
If you are using your phone as an alarm clock, you should consider getting the Xtreme alarm clock app. This application progressively increases the volume of your alarm tone until you shut it down. Try it, it works.
However, one of the best ways to ensure you wake up every time is to get a partner to help you out.
If both you and your partner are trying the Uberman Sleep Cycle simultaneously, ensure that your cycles do not sync. You can throw in a few minutes between the timing for your period and your partner’s. This way, you can take turns waking each other up.
2. Stay Active
One of the best ways to ensure you stick to the cycle is to stay active during wake hours.
As soon as you wake up, avoid lying down, or even sitting down doing nothing. If you have nothing to do, consider going for a walk or preparing a meal.
With the Uberman, you gain considerable amounts of extra wake time. If you do not draw up new activities to try, you can end up with successions of empty time slots with nothing to do, significantly increasing your chance of failure.
Consider making a list of new activities to try to keep the boredom away.
3. Prepare for Sleep
If you are on the go often, you should prepare for sleep wherever it meets you. Get earplugs and a sleeping mask and keep them around you, and you will be ready for that emergency nap when you do need it.
However, you should make sure not to get too comfortable during the adaptation period. Getting too cozy can easily lead to oversleeping.
Consider forsaking the bed for a couch until you fully adapt to the new schedule.
4. Combat Sleep Deprivation Symptoms
If you plan to stay relatively active during the adaptation period, consider taking a standard dosage of full-spectrum vitamin E. Vitamin E helps to ease symptoms like brain fog that may stem from the initial sleep deprivation.
Also, ensure you stay properly hydrated. Dehydration can help worsen symptoms of sleep deprivation.
Plus, drinking lots of water should indirectly help prevent oversleeping, as you have to get up to urinate ever so often.
5. Eat Clean
Stay on a clean diet and avoid consuming excessive sugar, alcohol, or caffeine. Eating healthy will significantly improve your sleep quality and reduce feelings of sleep deprivation.
6. Stay Safe
Avoid driving and operating heavy machinery as much as possible during the adaptation period.