Why is Uberman’s sleep schedule dangerous?

Jun 4th, 2012 | By | Category: Sleep Research

ubermans schedule dangerous Why is Uberman’s sleep schedule dangerous? If you followed last two chapters of my lucid dreaming guide, stages of sleep and Stanford alertness scale, you learned how important sleep patterns are and how crucial for your health is to listen your own biological clock. But in the scope of lucid dreaming induction I often speak about taking naps during the day as it will help you becoming lucid. So, you have every right to feel confused at this moment and wonder what your sleeping pattern should look like in order to be a lucid dreamer while avoiding endangering your health. Goal of this chapter is to resolve your dilemmas by explaining what are good sleep schedules and what should you avoid even if it is widely spread around the literature and internet.

World in which we live and general lifestyle that is offered to us demand more activity, more alertness, more working hours, etc… to live an interesting life or to become successful. And even if you are indifferent towards that, it is hard to escape it 100%. Effects of such demanding tempo were ideas that more waking hours could solve the problem and obtain more chances to get everything done. Around the year 2000, new concept started rolling around the Internet. It was the idea about sleeping in phases to gain more waking hours, or to be concrete, sleeping the total of just 3 hours in 6 portions distributed equally throughout the day.The schedule is supposed to compress physiologically less important stages of sleep and homeostatically upregulate stages vital for mental health.

But before I try to explain why is Uberman’s sleep schedule dangerous, I would like to describe what kinds of sleep schedules exist with facts and myths about them.

What are sleep schedules?

Most people around the world spend 6-8 hours sleeping and usually all in one block. But, of course, because of variety of reasons those schedules can be different. The most common sleep schedules are:

Uniform Name Other Names Sleep periods during 24 hours Description
Monophasic Normal, Hibernation 1 This is the sleeping schedule that most people consider “normal”
Biphasic Siesta, Afternoon nap 2 This involves sleeping at night, as per monophasic, but then having a nap in the afternoon as well. This was the modus operandi for people like Winston Churchill, who
believed that it was possible to get more done under this system, as he averaged 5-6 hours of sleep per day.
Triphasic 3 The standard version is 3 90-minute naps/day, for 4 1/2 hours of sleep/day
Tetraphasic 4 The one known instance of this is Buckminster Fuller who apparently slept a half hour every six hours.
Pentaphasic 5 Obviously 5 sleep periods/day
Hexaphasic Überman 6 This is napping for 15-30 minutes every 4 hours. This has traditionally been attributed to Leonardo DaVinci; while there is no proof he did this, there are currently
people doing it sucessfully.
Polyphasic 2+ Technically, this means any sleeping schedule with 2 or more phases, but is increasingly used to refer to hexaphasic sleep. Yes, this means that you sleep for only 2-3 hours per day.
And the people who do it long-term say they feel great (after an initial adjustment period).

Offsets

By following one of the sleep schedules, intentionally or accidentally, everyone has an offset, that is, how far from midnight they begin their nap. For example, when monophasic sleeper goes to bed at 10 P.M. (2 hours before midnight), he is “monophasic minus two”. Or, when monophasic sleeper goes to bed at 2 A.M. (2 hours after midnight); he is “monophasic plus two”.

As you already know, most of us use monophasic or biphasic sleep schedules and we consider that as a normal thing to do. But, maybe you didn’t know that animals have polyphasic sleep schedules and it is believed that humans in their early stages of development were like them. And that could be the crossroad on which we took different path; some scientists believe that humans had to adjust to monophasic sleep in order to protect themselves from wild animals. They would be awake during the day but in the evening they would find a secure shelter and sleep in one piece. Also, it is believed that our brain started to develop in a different way just because of longer sleep time and REM phase vs. NREM ratio.

Reasons to use Uberman’s sleep schedule

As the Internet usage in the world have grown many evidence of polyphasic sleep experiments are available and can provide useful information before starting your own experiment. Many bloggers have written about becoming polyphasic sleepers and explained in details how and what they did and what were the biggest issues with it.

Different people have cited different reasons for napping polyphasically. Some of the main ones are:

• To get more time: this seems to be the most common motivation
• To save money: If you’re awake more hours, then your periodic payments like rent, mortgage, insurance taxes, and the like are cheaper per waking hour
• To discover if it’s even possible, or what it feels like, or just how difficult it is
• Because it’s just plain weird: some people like to be different
• To increase lucid dreams
• They know they can change back if they don’t like it
• They want to emulate their heroes — many of the reputed famous hexaphasic sleepers were actually some other kind of polyphasic, ie. biphasic
• They can have more private time to themselves (introverts like this; extroverts can feel free to seek out other polyphasic sleepers to join them

Some of the reasons why some of the people think it might work better for them than for others:

• They already fit a number of criteria mentioned throughout the site which make it easier
• They are already polyphasic in a different way (ie. biphasic -> hexaphasic)
• They’ve experienced sleep deprivation before
• Their jobs require them to work shift, but also would allow them the breaks needed for napping

But, there is neither evidence nor confession that someone continued this practice for more than couple of months. People were getting nervous and sleep deprived, their social life suffered and health issues were starting to show up. For some reason people believe that NREM stages of sleep are useless and that only REM sleep is a good sleep so they tended to enter REM immediately after going to bed. But as we stated before, NREM phases are preparing body and mind for REM, they are regulating blood pressure, controlling circulation and breathing patterns and cannot be ignored or considered irrelevant. Also, in Uberman’s sleep schedule you cannot be awaken without alarm clock, it is impossible to sleep for 20 minutes and to wake up naturally. That causes deprivation and instead of wanted creativity boost it destroys it and create slight dumbness or even neurosis.

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Yes button Why is Uberman’s sleep schedule dangerous?

Conclusion

In the mess of information around polyphasic sleep and Uberman’s schedule it can be hard to resolve whether is it a new age theory or something worth to try. Many people consider even lucid dreaming as a scam or an unhealthy thing to do. But difference is that with learning lucid dreaming you will be forced to learn about stages of sleep and to discover your “real” sleeping needs. In order to become a lucid dreamer your sleep will become much more regular than before and you will know your body better. And with polyphasic sleep you will force your mind and body to reach their limits and that could harm you with no real benefit at all. Even if you realized that you can become lucid only during naps, respect your body’s need to rest and let yourself to have one nap a day using biphasic sleep schedule. Everything more than this is unnecessary and I recommend not doing it.

Related posts:

Stages of sleep

Improve your sleep : Stanford alertness scale 

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10 Comments to “Why is Uberman’s sleep schedule dangerous?”

  1. Brandon C. says:

    I have tried Uberman’s sleep schedule and I totally agree with you. It is too hard to live that way. I started losing touch with my friends, me and my gf had fights all the time. It’s just not worth it.

    • Jack says:

      I dont understand this. You have more time on your hands wouldnt it be the opposite? Why did you lose touch with your friends

      • Webs says:

        Your question sounds like you need an explanetion that he didn’t mean that literally. Of course he means mental problems of some kind.

  2. Jude says:

    I no longer require an alarm to wake up. I stopped using it after consistently waking up fifteen seconds before it every siesta. My friend the human body can adjust to anything. All said in regard to this comment : “Also, in Uberman’s sleep schedule you cannot be awaken without alarm clock, it is impossible to sleep for 20 minutes and to wake up naturally.”

  3. George says:

    I am currently searching the web for info on the uberman, and came across this.
    Its a goog written article, and at first i though abouy dropping my plan. But then i see
    That through your entire text, you only come up with statements. You dont back them up with any facts or regeres to medical research. Hoe have you come to find all this out about ubermann?

    Im not trying to be mean, buy am curious if this i am going to do is dangerous, and i am not convinced by an internet article with out any medical research or test subjects.

    - George

    • Emma Rose says:

      George, thanks for your feedback. As you can probably see, this field is not a part of mainstream science and there are not so many “official” experiments. I wrote this article based on my own practice and based on communication with other people who tried Uberman’s sleep schedule. No one actually died (as far as I know) of experimenting with this schedule but people noticed problems I have mentioned in the article. They were mostly personal experiments on group of 1 so no statistical data is available. And, to see the real aftermath of some sleep schedule one must practice it for long period of time and then again, problems I’ve written about show up.

      If you discover some research or important data about this, please inform me about it.

      Emma

  4. Jarrod says:

    You see, the problem with these types of things is it cannot be officially tested because of the reason it needs to be. Part of being a psychologist is that you cannot place subjects in a situation that could possibly cause psychological or physical harm, therefore this experiment couldn’t be conducted until we learn a lot more than we currently know about how sleep works.

    However it does interest me and I think I might try it on the next holidays I get.

  5. Jose says:

    Emma, I don’t want to spoil the article or anything as it is very interesting but you make various unfounded claims and assert them as facts! That isn’t responsible journalism in my opinion. I agree with George on that point.

    For example:

    - “Also, in Uberman’s sleep schedule you cannot be awaken without alarm clock, it is impossible to sleep for 20 minutes and to wake up naturally.” Where is the evidence for this assertion? You say from acquaintances. Is there a neutral party that can attest to that?

    - “That causes deprivation and instead of wanted creativity boost it destroys it and create slight dumbness or even neurosis.” The same. How do you know it causes neurosis?

    More accurate would be to say, “it is very difficult to sleep 20 minutes without an alarm clock” or “it probably causes neurosis and slight dumbness”.

    Check on non violent communication I think it will help your writing.

    Here is a sleep log that is related to this. http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/10/polyphasic-sleep-log-day-1/

    This man tried the Uberman pattern for more than 5 months with what seems to be excellent results. Tell us what you think, or maybe you could even update the article!

    • Max says:

      Yes, thank you for commenting nicely. If it was me, I would have been a little more vulgar/violent? Haha.

      I have been following the Uberman sleep technique for 7 months now, and I have not regretted it. Neither do problems arise. What you do with your mind during the ‘nightly awake’ times is up to you. What is important is that you seek knowledge and entertainment, enjoying it as much as you can.

      I’d rather not sleep at all if I could.

  6. Sunny says:

    Dear Emma,

    I started reading this article based on the title to find out the counter-point of the information I had so far read about Uberman and biphasic sleep, but I am forced to conclude that the title is an effort to grab the attention for an article that is devoid of any factual information.

    Will you answer one question for me, please?

    If this is not a subject for mainstream science and no studies have been done on it, then what makes you the authority on this topic?

    Hope to hear from you,
    Kind regards,
    Sunny

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