Monday, March 21, 2011

Sleep Experiment

What would you do with an extra 30+ hours each week? Have you ever wondered why we need so much sleep and wished you could do so much more with less sleep? In the past I've tried getting by on less than 7-8 hours of sleep at night, but never found it sustainable. Sure there were crazy all-nighters during finals week, but these were indefinitely followed by crashes and 10+ hours of sleep. I think I finally found a plausible alternative, and am in the midst of a freakin' crazy experiment.

I'm not doing anything illegal. In fact, no outside substance is involved at all. The experiment involves training my body to immediately go into REM sleep (considered the most important of the 5 sleep phases) and bypass the other phases. This results in drastically shorter but more frequent sleep periods. How drastic? I'm currently sleeping for 30 minutes every 4 hours, or about 3 hours of total sleep in a 24 hour period.

I didn't come up with this on my own, but learned of it from a friend here in Chicago. Scientifically it's called polyphasic sleep and this particular version is know as the Uberman Sleep Schedule (USS). Check out this blog for a detailed log of one man's experiment. In a similar spirit, and at my wife's request, I'm going to track my own experience here.

Why am I doing this? Partly because it sounds like a fun experiment. Can I really survive on only 3 hours of daily sleep? How functional will I be? The main reason though is school. My school/personal/family balance has shortchanged the school part lately, and I'd really like to finish my degree on time and get a job sooner rather than later. I anticipate doing a lot of studying, academic reading and research, and data analysis with this extra time.

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