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Will the Uberman sleep cycle make you superhuman, or just super tired?

It isn’t controversial for us to tell you that sleep is important. 

We’ve written countless articles on how dangerous sleep deprivation can be, and studies show losing out on sleep can make you behave inappropriately.

You’ll eat more, gain weight, suffer from chronic diseases, and even drive like you’ve had half a bottle of vodka. 

Still, while sleep is crucial for everything from learning to growth, you might not need to get all of your daily rest in one sitting.

There’s a small group of people in the world today that is actively making efforts to spend less time in bed. And getting more things done. 

These people are referred to as “polyphasic” sleepers. They believe they can improve their productivity levels by hacking their sleep schedule into multiple chunks. 

At the core of this concept is the Uberman sleep cycle — the original polyphasic sleep routine. Uberman Sleep Cycle is the heart of today’s article. 

Uberman Sleep Cycle

Switching to a polyphasic sleep cycle 

The question of “how to Polyphasic sleep” has begun to appear more often in the modern world. 

It’s no surprise when you think about it. Our hectic constantly-connected schedules means that most of us are dealing with stunted sleep, whether we like it or not. 

We do our best to cram many hours of productivity into each 24-hour period. We’ll be chugging energy drinks to get through the day, then taking pills to get to sleep at night. It’s really not healthy. 

The obvious solution would probably be to get more sleep. However, polyphasic sleepers believe that they can overcome their issues with rest by getting a little less slumber instead. 

While monophasic sleepers (i.e. most of us) get all of our sleep in one long chunk, polyphasic sleepers snooze in little bursts throughout the day. 

According to the Polyphasic society, there are many different ways to arrange this schedule. They often include either a combination of a long sleep and multiple naps, or lots of naps spread through a day. 

The idea is that switching to a polyphasic sleep cycle will give you more hours in which you can work productively. 

Additionally, you may also increase the amount of time that you spend in rapid eye movement, or REM sleep.

Since the body often defaults to slow-wave and REM sleep when it’s tired, this means you can theoretically get more “high quality” rest in a smaller period of time. 

Uberman Sleep Cycle

What is the Uberman sleep cycle?

At the core of the polyphasic sleep cycle philosophy is the Uberman sleep technique. This was the very first strategy people tried to begin polyphasic sleeping. It is also the strategy that most alternative routines are built off today. 

The Uberman approach throws the idea of one long period of sleep each night out of the window. 

Instead, it allows you to get only two or three hours of sleep in total during any 24-hour period. These sleeping sessions are split into 20 or 30-minute naps, depending on how hardcore you go

Since the original Uberman sleep schedule—the one that only gives you two hours of sleep a day—often leaves people with severe sleep deprivation symptoms, people have been forced to adapt. 

Variations of the Uberman cycle have been born, allowing an increased number of naps per day, or longer-phase napping instead. 

Notably, the core purpose behind the Uberman sleep schedule isn’t to give you plenty of rejuvenating rest. 

If you’re using this routine, there’s a good chance that you’re trying to squeeze as much waking time out of each day for a reason.

Perhaps because you’re launching a new business and you need more time, or because you’re studying for a big test. 

Proponents believe that the Uberman sleep schedule is one of the best ways to increase productivity and performance.

Unfortunately scientific studies indicates it might not be the best option for your health. 

One report from 2014 shows that napping isn’t the best way to get the cognitive development that you need during sleep. 

Additionally, if you don’t get the right quality of sleep in your naps, then you’ll end up chronically sleep-deprived. That increases your risk of everything from cardiovascular disease, to type 2 diabetes and obesity. 

Uberman Sleep Cycle

The benefits of the Uberman sleep technique

So, why would anyone try the Uberman sleep cycle?

Well, although we personally wouldn’t recommend it for most people, there are some sleepers out there that swear by the benefits segmented sleep can bring. 

The Uberman sleep cycle claims to deliver endless extra productivity, because you’re only spending a total of three hours (at most) unconscious. 

Imagine what you could accomplish if you took 5 hours out of your typical 8-hour sleeping routine and dedicated them to your career, your hobbies, or your family life instead.

The possibilities are theoretically endless. 

All you need to do is find enough time in your new schedule to slot some naps in between your bursts of activity. 

Other possible benefits of the Uberman sleep schedule include:

Increased creativity
Studies show that a person’s creativity is directly linked to the amount of Rapid Eye Movement sleep that they get.

A monophasic sleep schedule doesn’t deliver as many REM cycles as a polyphasic sleep strategy. Therefore switching to the Uberman routine could technically make you more creative. 

Mental clarity 
REM sleep has also been linked to better clarity. You might be able to train your body to squeeze all the REM rest that you need into a series of short naps.

Then rather than taking all the rest you need in one chunk, you could nap and have a more focused brain.
What’s more, because you’re napping regularly, you can effectively revamp your creativity and clarity levels whenever you like. 

Increased opportunities
How many times have you said no to something important just because you don’t have enough hours in the average day?

With the Uberman sleep cycle, you can say yes to more things in life, because you’ll always have more time on your hands. 

An Uberman routine can even give you more time to focus on yourself. A lot of people assume that the only reason to embrace polyphasic sleep is because they want to be more productive at work or get more professional tasks done. 

However, some people use this sleeping strategy for self-improvement and growth too. When you have more time in your schedule, you can work on your hobbies, get to know yourself, and engage in some crucial me-time.

Uberman Sleep Cycle

Can you survive on an Uberman sleep schedule? 

So, yes, the Uberman sleep cycle could have its benefits. 

Scientists, however, still aren’t sure whether it’s worth it. Ultimately, the human body doesn’t seem to be suited to sleeping in only 20-minute naps each day. 

Some animals can survive well this way. Still we haven’t got any evidence human beings get enough rest by sleeping according to the Uberman schedule. That’s pretty worrying. 

To put your mind at ease, the Polyphasic Society often references geniuses throughout the ages who stood by polyphasic sleeping routines.

You’re unlikely to find many normal people who stick specifically to the Uberman sleep schedule. 

The closest famous person that we could find was Leonardo Da Vinci. He apparently only slept fifteen minutes every four hours, so he could get as much time out of his day as possible. 

According to Da Vinci, this polyphasic sleep cycle allowed him to get another 20 years of productivity out of his 67-year life. 

Tesla is another famous scientist who allegedly never slept for more than 2 hours in any day. 

It is worth noting, however, that a lot of people think that this sleeping schedule drove him to have a mental breakdown when he was only 25. Tesla’s father even warned that his sleeping habits were killing him. 

Obviously, we don’t know for certain if the Uberman sleep cycle has actually been the death of anyone. However, a lot of the people who try this method of sleeping end up feeling overwhelmed and chronically sleep deprived. 

In fact, experiments with the Uberman sleep schedule were what originally led to the creation of the alternative polyphasic routine: the Everyman. 

According to scientists behind the Everyman sleep cycle, the strategy was designed when the Uberman routine was found to be unsustainable. 

Uberman Sleep Cycle

Should you become an “Uberman”?

So, should you ditch your current sleeping routine and try the Uberman instead?

If you’re already having trouble with insomnia and poor sleeping habits, then it might not seem like too much of a stretch. However, we still probably wouldn’t recommend it. 

No matter how you choose to slice and distribute your periods of sleep throughout each day, It’s widely accepted that less sleep almost always leads to sleep deprivation.

Sleeping in shorter bursts might help you to stave off some of the more severe issues with chronic sleep deprivation, but it won’t give you the kind of restful sleep your body needs to rejuvenate each day.

In fact, it could even mean that you don’t release hormones properly, leading to an increased risk of chronic disease.

If you do think that you need to change your sleeping schedule, then there are other options to try that are a little less dangerous than the Uberman sleep cycle.

For instance, the Everyman cycle allows for one long period of uninterrupted sleep, which means that it can be easier to adapt to. 

Additionally, biphasic sleep, which allows you to sleep in two chunks each day can be beneficial to some people too. 

Whichever strategy you decide to take, make sure you don’t go to the extremes, and always speak to your doctor first. 

Polyphasic sleep cycles aren’t safe for all people. Your doctor will be able to advise whether splitting up your sleep is a good idea for you. 

Siestio. Sleep Matters.

Medical disclaimer
You must not rely on the information provided on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professionals. For more information read our full disclaimer here.

Medical Expert

Siestio is an evidence-based resource dedicated to sleep and wellbeing. Whether you’re affected directly or indirectly by sleep issues, we’re here to help. Because we believe sleep matters.

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