When I started researching on sleep, my end goal was only to inculcate some good habits so that I sleep early and better. And I’ll talk about what has been working for me towards the end of this article. However, my research also introduced me to some strange sleeping schedules that I had no idea about, and I thought I should do a post to talk about one of the particularly hallucinatory ones:
The Uber what?
The Uberman Sleep Schedule is a sleep schedule consisting entirely of 20 minute naps, spaced equidistant throughout the day. And, you would get about 6 naps in a day. That’s about two hours of sleep daily! Hence, you would take a nap every 4 hours for about 20 minutes. And, if you’re not able to fall asleep in those 20 minutes, then God help you!
Why would anyone in their right minds do this?
It turns out that REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is the only part of our sleep cycle which really matters. Since, we spend about 20% of our sleep time in REM sleep, the goal of the Uberman schedule is to cut out the remaining time and just get 2 hours of REM sleep. Once you adapt to it, you’ll be able to fall asleep much faster and hit REM sleep faster than you do now. And, REM sleep is the time when your body gets maximum rest and repairs itself.
You’ll also have 22 hours in a day, so you can finally do all the things you really want to and don’t have the time to right now. But is more always better?
Has anyone done this and survived?
Surprisingly yes. Some say it worked for them, and some say it didn’t. Not so surprisingly though, there are very few people who have actually been able to sustain this. Most people tried it as an experiment and gave up after a few months. Following are some of the thoughts by people who actually tried this:
“In hindsight, it’s pretty obvious that all I was doing was severely depriving myself of sleep and suffering all of the tortures that entails. The instant-REM naps with startlingly vivid lucid dreams are real, but none of the other touted benefits ever came close to materializing for me.” – Not so encouraging this one
“If you can withstand the sleep deprivation long enough, your body eventually adapts, and you begin experiencing REM sleep during your naps. Dreams occur during REM sleep, so you’ll know you’re getting there when you start having dreams during your naps.” – I got scared the moment I read about “sleep deprivation long enough”
Trivia: Apparently, Leonardo da Vinci used to follow this pattern. But, then again he was a genius and didn’t have to go to office everyday. I doubt my office folks are going to like it too much if I start running off to take 20 minute naps during the day.
What do I think?
Well, it sounds quite fancy and gripping, but to be honest it just reminds me of some crazy diet which it too good to be true. Why adapt to something which you won’t be able to sustain for long? Also, you never know about the long-term effects of such experiments. So, since I’m not a genius and I will have daily responsibilities which won’t allow me to follow such a strange pattern, following are some of the more sustainable rules which have been working for me:
1.) Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep. Sorry, I know this is obvious! But, I don’t think a lot of people get adequate rest. Speaking for myself, I need about 7-8 hours daily to be able to function properly. The thought of 2 hours made me think of the “Walking Dead”. But of course, you should figure out what works for you and try to get that much rest.
2.) Try and get up by 7 AM daily. Now, this is something which has really worked for me. I force myself to get up at 7 AM nowadays regardless of what time I slept the night before. If I sleep late, I get tired quickly during the day since I wake up early, and this forces me to sleep on time the next night. Over time, this has really been helping me in regularizing my sleep schedule. Also, I get milk delivered in the morning, and the milk guy comes at 7 AM – works better than my alarm clock!
3.) I think I covered the other aspects: less light, winding down and eating early enough in one of my earlier articles: Why Can’t I Sleep on Time: Post 2. So, you can check that out if you want to create a sleep-inducing ambience.
4.) I’m also having less tea. I used to have 5-6 cups a day before, but I’ve cut it down to 2 cups daily. If you’re addicted to caffeine, consider reducing your caffeine intake and see if that helps you get better sleep.
5.) And, the last one is to do something boring before going to sleep. So, I’m trying to learn a new language, and unfortunately it is super boring. Hence, I spend about 10 minutes on it, and then I drift off to sleep. So, hey whatever works for you.
Happy Sleeping Guys! Don’t neglect your sleep. When I do, I turn into a zombie and it’s not nice for the people around me.