Eli’s excited today. He’s on his second day on the uberman sleep schedule, a form of polyphasic sleep he learned about on StumbleUpon, a utility he keeps on his desktop that sends him to all kinds of random websites.
The concept behind the uberman sleep schedule is that you can train yourself to sleep for 20 minutes every four hours, on a tight schedule around the clock, and that the resulting two hours of sleep can be enough to live on, therefore giving you more awake time. Animals frequently live this way, sleeping for short periods of time throughout the day and night. When I come to think of it, so did my father. For years he was an inveterate napper, and he often did his best work in the middle of the night.
Apparently your body can learn to go directly into REM sleep in 20 minutes intervals. Proponents of the uberman sleep schedule point out that some of the world’s most respected geniuses worked on little or no sleep, often citing Leonardo Da Vinci, Buckmiinster Fuller, and Thomas Jefferson. Fuller gave it up, as many practitioners do, because of social conflicts with more normal sleepers.
Eli is taking 4 AP classes this year—biology, physics, calculus and history—as well as poetry and Chamber Choir, and also an introduction to engineering class at Cabrillo on Thursday afternoons. He’s, continuing his martial arts and, of course, spending numerous hours a day on the phone with his girlfriend. Eli figures the only way he can do all of this is to create more hours in the day. And this is how he plans to do it. Numerous Internet accounts say the first two weeks can be hell.
Why didn’t Eli start this sleep experiment at the beginning of summer? Because he was waiting to see if he’d get a 4th period study hall. Without it, the timing of his naps would be off, and holding to a tight napping schedule is a prerequisite to success. So now, three days before his junior year is going to start, Eli stayed up all last night (well most of it anyway) and is right now having one of his third 20-minute nap of the day.
Karyn is not particularly supportive of Eli’s experiment. She thinks he’s crazy. Karyn has always been held the torch for more sleep in our household. Lizzy is entertained by the idea. Personally, I’m intrigued. I respect the kid’s curiosity and his willingness to make himself a human guinea pig. The worst that might happen is that he’ll get really tired and give up. And if it works? Well, he’ll probably play a lot of Spore in the middle of the night.
One of the articles I read about the uberman sleep schedule on the Internet says that one of the greatest complaints about it is boredom—what to do with all those extra hours. I don’t think that will be Eli’s problem. Oh, the other thing they mentioned was hunger—can you imagine eating all those extra meals?