Friday, July 26, 2002

I received the book written by Claudio Stampi today! I'll be reading it over the weekend and I'll post a short review of it soon. After reading the book and a little more research, I will be diving into the 6x30 min. napping schedule. That will reduce my sleeping time per day to 3 hours per 24 hours. Part of me is still sceptical that it will work, but from what I've read people are doing it, and Stampi's subject actually had improved performance after a few weeks.

So stay tuned =) Part two of this experiment will be underway in a little while!

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Day 40

I guess counting the days does not make much sense anymore. I am still living the polyphasic life more days a week than not. But I am not the perfect polyphasic sleeper, I take days off when its impossible to nap -- like over the long weekend of the 4th of July as I had guests and we were out and about doing the tourist thing. It was pretty hard to nap regularly, so I just switched back to the mono life for a few days.

Now I am seriously looking at planning to jump into the full blown schedule. As preparation for that, I am also going to bite the bullet and slap down cash for Stampi's book which can be found here: Why We Nap, by Claudio Stampi. I'll post a review here once I've gotten the book and digested parts of it.

One reason for the new interest is a partial review of that book posted to an Uberman Sleep Support group over at Yahoo Groups ( Since it requires subscribing to read it, I'll copy some interesting bits from the post by Christophe Saout (hope you don't mind Christophe!):

Christphe Saout writes:

In chapter 12 he discusses the "Leonardo da Vinci Ultrashort Sleep Strategy" which is actually exactly the 6x 30min napping strategy.

Stampi had the luck to find a subject that was willing to try living on the Uberman schedule. The subject was a graphic artist, so he appearantly didn't have any trouble to sleep when he wanted to.

The first test lasted only 19 days. He tried it with 15 minute naps, but these were appearantly much too short and he had a lot of napping incidents, overslept, etc...

One year later he tried it again. This time with 30 minute naps. But he didn't try to follow the all-or-nothing strategy described on kuro5hin, he gradually reduced the sleep amount over 10 days. Starting with 8 hours of monophasic sleep, he reduced the core sleep to 3 hours over 5 days while adding 80 minute naps over day (80 minute naps). After these 5 days the nap duration was gradually reduced to 30 minutes. This was done to minimize sleep deprivation in the beginning. At the beginning it's easier to get asleep if have 80 minutes to get asleep, while later, when your brain gets the hang of the rhythm, your ability to get asleep for the 30 minutes naps increases. This is also the result of other studies (there a very many described in the book!).

At the beginning everything went the usual way. The subject was very tired, had some oversleeping accidents, etc... but it was motivated enough to continue and also had enough work. No real crashes.

The interesting thing now is that Stampi told the subject to do some test on a regular basis. Usually 30 minutes after waking up or so to minimize the effects of sleep inertia. These test were 2 kinds of performance analysis tests. The first was the so called "Memory and Search Test" (MAST), the second one the "Descending Subtraction Test" (DST). Okay, the MAST focuses on memory while the DST focuses on "thinking".

Both performance levels rapidly degraded after being on the schedule and remained on this level for two weeks.

But somewherey day 21 something strange happened: The MAST performance suddenly raised over the baseline levels! (baseline = the levels before the schedule with normal 8hour night sleep). And it stayed on this high level for the rest of the test. The DST performance however didn't change much. On day 34 the subject was told sleep for several consecutive hours (how much he could) and then immediately return to the Uberman schedule. Appearantly this worked fine. After that the DST performance also jumped over the baseline levels and stayed there.

After 48 days the test was aborted (not because of any problems, I suppose the subject simply didn't know what to do with all the time or something).

The subject had to wear a special gadget like a wrist watch that recorded when he was asleep or awake. Also an EEG,EOG, EMG and EKG were recorded when possible (to distinguish the types of sleep, REM, NREM, SWS).

What was found: At the beginning the naps mostly containted stage 2 NREM sleep and a reduced amount of stage 3/4 SWS sleep but nearly no stage 5 REM sleep.

After adapting (around day 21) suddenly the relative distribution of the sleep stages (stage 2 NREM, SWS, REM) returned to nearly the same distribution a normal night sleep has (30% REM, 70% NREM). This is very unsual because normally REM sleep is only possible after at least 60 minutes of NREM sleep and only lasts for a few minutes, except in the last half of an 8 hour sleep, where you find a lot of stage 2 and REM sleep. But after having adapted to the Uberman schedule some naps contain a lot of SWS, other contain "only" stage 2 NREM (light sleep) and other contain REM sleep. That's what is being described at kuro5hin, being able to jump directly to REM sleep. But where he was wrong: You won't get only REM sleep, the sleep distribution returns to normal, that's all (but under very unusual and surprising conditions).

Conclusions (from the book):

1. Adult humans appear to have a natural ability to adapt to polyphasic sleep schedules
2. The 4-hr ultradian cycle of sleep-wake pressure previosly described (note: from other studies before) may be an important factor in allowing adaptation to polyphasic patterns
3. The sleep-wake system appears to show a high level of flexibility in terms of sleep timing and duration
4. Polyphasic sleep may be a feasible, and perhaps the only, strategy allowing remarkable levels of sleep reduction during prolonged quasi-continuous work situations, without unduly compromising performance effectiveness.
5. THis may be analogous to what is observed in a considerable number of mammalian species, particularly in thos living in dangerous enviroments.
6. Further studies extended to a larger sample of subjects may provide powerfull tools for developing sleep-wake schedules for individuals involved in irregular or quasi-continuous work situations.
7. These findings and hypothesis raise challenging questions concerning what is known about the regulatory mechanisms of sleep functions.

I find especially the last one very interesting. A lot of scientific research is done without even noticing that other cycles than the monophasic sleep patterns! A lot of assumptions that are right on a normal schedule can't apply to polyphasic sleep. As seen, after 2-3 weeks there is some sort of switch.

Interesting, no? Looks like Stampi did some indepth research into the ultra short sleep schedules. Its nice to know that there is some hard scientific research out there we can use.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Day 33

Not much in the way of updates lately. Yes, I am still on the schedule for the most part. I have rebooted the last few weekends, but beyond that, my core sleep is between 3 and 4.5 hours, and the naps are atill at the same times.

Found a pretty good link for more juicy polyphasic information :

I am thinking of switching to the full system, but still need to find the *courage* =) Now that I've pretty much been in-country for a month, finding things to fill the time is no longer a problem. Instead, I find the opposite true. On those reboot days, I feel like I have lost so much time! I'll use that is another tool to get myself out of bed in the mornings.

Getting up after the core sleep is still pretty difficult, tho I am sometimes finding myself waking up before the alarm goes off. Those are the best days. But on those days when the alarm shatters my peaceful dreamtime, I still have to struggle to get up and into the shower. Maybe if I am a little more strict with the core sleep and limit it to only three hours, instead of flexing it a bit like I have been.

Shane has remarked on the quality of naps when the core sleep is 3 hours or 4.5 hours. With 4.5 hours, its hard to completely fall asleep for the naps, but with 3 hours, its not a problem at all. Lots of variables. I need to think about being a little more strict to get some reliable results instead of all this conjecture.