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Are Alternative Sleeping Patterns Effective?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the making-the-most-of-REM dept.

Biotech 260

shmookey asks: "Some people have adopted some unusual sleeping habits, which they believed help them work. The concept is simple: be active for a few hours, sleep for half an hour, wake up and then repeat. This supposedly maximized your effective REM sleeping time and cut back on wasted hours of idleness. Hack-a-day has a nice article and some links on this, which re-ignited my interest. Does anyone on Slashdot actually do this? How do you make it fit in with earning a living? What sacrifices do you have to make to live this kind of lifestyle?" Called polyphasic sleep, or "The Uberman's sleep schedule", this is not something to dive into lightly, as it requires rigid scheduling, and there may be unexpected complications and other issues. Has anyone tried this? What were your experiences?

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More info on Uberman (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584016)


An excellent writeup on the Uberman sleep schedule can be found here [everything2.com] .

In the past I've restricted my sleep to as little as three hours a night for several weeks without ill effects, but I've never tried the Uberman sleep schedule. Now that I'm older, I seem to need my sleep much more desperately than I used to (I get physically ill if I get less than five hours sleep per night), so I doubt I'll be trying it anytime soon.

I have a friend who decided to try it during his long period of unemployment (in fact, I first heard of it from him), but he dropped out after a few weeks. I suspect that he just enjoyed sleeping too much to give up so much of it. ^_^

Re:More info on Uberman (2, Informative)

undeadly (941339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584057)

In the past I've restricted my sleep to as little as three hours a night for several weeks without ill effects, but I've never tried the Uberman sleep schedule. Now that I'm older, I seem to need my sleep much more desperately than I used to (I get physically ill if I get less than five hours sleep per night), so I doubt I'll be trying it anytime soon.

No wonder that you get ill with so little sleep for prolonged periods. It's not without reason that sleep deprivation is a torture method.

Re:More info on Uberman (3, Informative)

eric76 (679787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585685)

I went for about 10 years on about 2-3 hours of sleep most nights starting when I was about 39 or 40.

There were some exceptions, but not all that many.

At first, I'd get about 2-3 hours of sleep a night and then crash for a few hours about every 10 days. After doing that for few months, I got to the point where I didn't need to crash very often.

About two years ago, I had some kind of infection that seemed to be more of a nuiscance than anything else. A couple of weeks later, I had a relapse that lasted a couple of weeks. During that time, I spent more time asleep. Since then, I haven't been able to get by on so little sleep.

Now I'm back up to 6-8 hours a night.

I miss all that extra time I had.

Re:More info on Uberman (4, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584144)

In the past I've restricted my sleep to as little as three hours a night

'Fess up, you still do it, otherwise how else are you going to get all those first posts?

Re:More info on Uberman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584326)

'Fess up, you still do it, otherwise how else are you going to get all those first posts?

For real. Look at this guy's user page [slashdot.org] . He started posting at 9:40 am EST and has been posting pretty consistently all day long up to this one which was posted at nearly 5:46 pm EST, 18 posts in all relatively evenly spaced over 8 solid hours. He either gets no sleep or has no job or both... Sheesh.

*_*

Re:More info on Uberman (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585208)

Just don't be jealous because all that comments are moderated so high.

Re:More info on Uberman (5, Informative)

Qazimov (225653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584436)

I don't know that I could pull it off now but for my Senior summer (after a Junior year of slacking) I found myself taking summer classes from 8am-12pm Monday through Friday. This of course was the same time when parties were going on weeknights and quite simply I wasn't going to pass those up.

My solution was to sleep in a 12 hour cycle rather than the normal 24. For 2.5 months I was fully rested, never cranky, and hangovers didn't seem to phase me. I would sleep from 3-6 am and pm every day. After the first two weeks I started to keep the cycle for weekends and I did feel that my body had adjusted to it. I fell asleep fast, but wasn't tired until just about time to go to sleep.


I guess part of the quation should be that you can sleep for short periods of time as long as you only need to stay awake for short periods of time. Maybe alcohol was the catlyst that made it all come together. Anyone who wants to fund a study on this idea should contact me ASAP.

P.S. - I like Vodka and Rum.

Re:More info on Uberman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584698)

1. Google topic. [google.com]
2. Link first or second link. Never mind that comment 20 [hackaday.com] already linked it in the original article page.
3. ^_^
4. Karma!

25 Hour day is most natural (3, Informative)

ChristianNerds.com (949201) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585336)

Actually, naturally, a human will go to a 25 hour sleep cycle when not affected solely by the sunlight, so instead of an extremely short day before sleep, it would actually be more effective to just stay up longer between sleeping the amount of time you would standardly sleep. In effect, you would be shrinking the sleeping:awake ratio, so it'd be doing the same thing.

Re:More info on Uberman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585501)

Oh, /\/\r. /\/\onkey! I /\/\ake you fishball soup! Fishball!

Re:More info on Uberman (2, Interesting)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585575)

I inadvertently tried this in undergrad; I had one night that for whatever reason I only got two hours of sleep. The next day I felt great, so I repeated this for the entire week. As I remember, I was alert and felt better than I did on seven hours.

The problem was that friday night, I sat down on the edge of the bed, and slept straight through for 15 hours. (the first several in an upright position, until my roomie came home and tipped me over) Maybe spacing out cat-naps would work better, but I'd be careful of confusing euphoria from sleep deprivation with actual improvements.

On the other hand, sleeping for six hours, hitting a class, then taking an hour nap before lunch did used to work.

Hmmm. (5, Interesting)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584024)

I really wonder. Biologically, we process melatonin best between the hours of 12:00am and 2:00am. I'm wondering, with our biology hardwired that way, is any alternate sleep patern ever effective?

Re:Hmmm. (3, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584058)

My wild ass guess would be "yes". My wife told me about a fellow who followed around wolves for awhile. Apparently, they sleep in regular spurts of 15 minutes at a time. He was able to keep up the schedule during his studies (and even commented that it seemed to keep him more alert) but that it never became natural.

Re:Hmmm. (4, Informative)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584166)

That would be Farley Mowat [google.com] she's refering to. They even made a movie [imdb.com] about his experiences with wolves.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

Caydel (851013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584170)

I believe this was Farley Mowat, the Canadian author in his book "Never Cry Wolf"...

Re:Hmmm. (0, Redundant)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584591)

When I'm on a prolonged vacation I find that my sleep pattern changes from the typical "on/off" (16/8) to a "on/off/on/off" type schedule where waking periods range from 4-8 hours and sleeping periods range from 3-9 hours. That seems to be natural for me.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584132)

I don't sleep, or barely sleep, and it works fine for me. ;)

Re:Hmmm. (2, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584230)

Furthermore, last week's Science News had an article about how melatonin seems to block cancer, particularly in women. Since we make and process it mostly at night, we apparently lose its benefits when staying awake then, even if that's our regular pattern. The consequences are that a study noticed something like a 300% increase in cancer among female night shift workers.

All things considered, I'll stick with ol' Ben Franklin's advice.

Re:Hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584397)

All things considered, I'll stick with ol' Ben Franklin's advice.

What would that be? to reset your clock twice a year?

Re:Hmmm. (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585356)

But what did they do at work?
I would argue thatchances are that the folks who work graveyard have higher exposure to potentially cancerous materials than your average 9 to fiver.

Was the study based on their direct coleages at the same workplace performing the same job?

Re:Hmmm. (3, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585500)

But what did they do at work?

Some assembly line thing or another.

I would argue thatchances are that the folks who work graveyard have higher exposure to potentially cancerous materials than your average 9 to fiver.

They compared them directly to their daytime counterparts. They also found that exposure to light prevents melatonin release (or manufacture - I don't remember), and confirmed that the night shift workers had much lower blood levels with no peak during the day when they would be sleeping. They also ran lab tests on rats (I think) and saw that cancerous tumors grew at a rate inversely proportional to the melatonin blood levels. Finally, they saw that the night works had higher cancer rates.

If I seem hesitant, it's because I don't have the article nearby and don't know any more about the study than what was in the article, but they made the gist of it very clear: being awake at night increased some people's chance of getting certain types of cancers.

Oops, I take that back. The full article, along with references is available at Science News [sciencenews.org] . It's much clearer than I could hope to be.

Re:Hmmm. (0, Offtopic)

SamSim (630795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584278)

Would it help if I accelerated the Earth's rotation to six times its current rate? Because I have the machine all built already, and right now it's just collecting dust.

Re:Hmmm. (2, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584620)

Well, we'd all fall off, for one.

Re:Hmmm. (2, Interesting)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584311)

Biologically, we process melatonin best between the hours of 12:00am and 2:00am.
 
I've always been skeptical of studies that claim the body does something best between certain numbered hours. How does the body know that it is 12 AM? What if you suddenly cross a time zone; would that throw off this process? Perhaps melatonin is best processed a certain number of hours after awakening, but how would a certain time have anything to do with it?

Re:Hmmm. (2, Insightful)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584364)

Because, our bodies have a fairly good idea of when it's light, and when it's dark. It's not that our bodies know it's midnight, it's that they know it's dark, and typically, it's between these hours, somewhere in that 2 hour span, that we process melatonin.

The six most important words in the English language are, "May I please see the report?" Rather than just being skeptical, read the research. :-)

Re:Hmmm. (0, Offtopic)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584546)

My office doesn't have a window, you insensitive clod!

Re:Hmmm. (1)

Bloater (12932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584678)

Does that mean you have to go to bed at about 5pm in the middle of the winter to avoid cancer (at this latitude - about the same as New York)?

Re:Hmmm. (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584588)

IIRC, the human body basically schedules its sleep requirements according to two basic schedules, one related to daylight and one related to how long you've been awake and how active you've been. For most people, that combination puts the most effective melatonin processing in the early hours of the morning.

And yes, suddenly changing across several time zones does mess it up. Jet lag is basically the resulting shock to the system while the two stimuli seem to be contradictory.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

Ziwcam (766621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585616)

Yes, the body does know what time it is. If you've ever travelled internationally, you know what I'm talking about. Its called Jet Lag, and it can seriously affect you. Light/dark cycles are very important, but only some of the bodies clocks are set by it. Other body clocks are set by your wake/sleep cycle, and still others are set by when you eat.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584598)

I really wonder. Biologically, we process melatonin best between the hours of 12:00am and 2:00am.

What do you mean we? Humans are biologially different from one another in small ways. Some people are tall, short, fat, skinny... Whats to say some people process more melatonin best at 12noon?

Re:Hmmm. (1)

Ithika (703697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585362)

Whats to say some people process more melatonin best at 12noon?

Yeah, but they're aussies and kiwis, so we don't talk about them! :)

Re:Hmmm. (3, Interesting)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585836)

I have chron's disease

I'm under doctors orders to be in bed by midnight and to get up when I wake up and not use an alarm clock (& I usually ready to get out of bed about 9.30am).

Life gets in the way of this sometimes and if I have a few late nights or early mornings then I get pain in my intestines.

It's not so much of a hardship and I don't complain but I know that whenever I ever have to catch a flight in the wee hours of the morning then I pay with more than feeling sleepy.

We all know... (4, Funny)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584062)

We all know how well this stuff worked out for Cosmo Kramer.

Re:We all know... (2, Funny)

Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (221748) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584122)

He did alright. He was getting a lot of stuff acomplished that he never had time to do before. The only drawback came when he passed out on top of a girl and woke up in the bottom of a river with chains around his ankles.

Let me tell you... (5, Funny)

Some Guy (21271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584079)

Let me tell you a bit about my experi... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Create a self-test first. (5, Informative)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584113)

What limited info I know about long-term sleep deprivation is that its very deceptive. Subjects think they are fine once they get used to it. But objective tests show significant declines in cognition performance. The point: feeling fine and being fine are two different things when it comes to sleep and the brain.

Before embarking on this, I'd get and baseline some cognitive tests (memory, reaction time, logic) to ensure that the new schedule isn't adversing affecting your brain.

Re:Create a self-test first. (2, Interesting)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584216)

Anecdotally, from game development, I can confirm this. After about 10 hours of straight work, productivity drops off dramatically, although the performer's perception of productivity doesn't drop off until maybe 14-16 hours in. Obviously there are exceptions (such as when you're really 'in the zone' on something, or have a Eureka! moment 11 hours in or something), but generally that seems to be the case.

4 hours a night for 20+ years (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584518)

I've basically slept anywhere from 3-5 hours a night for the past 20+ years, with no ill effects. I catch a cold maybe once a year, and most people think I look about 5 to 10 years younger than I am.
As far as cognition goes, I'm a surgeon and my patients do well.
I'll sleep more when I'm dead

Re:4 hours a night for 20+ years (1)

SIGFPE (97527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584751)

Is your name Jack? Did you spend a period of your life trapped on a desert island because of a plane crash?

Re:Create a self-test first. (1)

Polo (30659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584609)

I read about this some time back in Steve Pavlina's [stevepavlina.com] fascinating sleep diary.

One thing he mentioned specifically was polyphasic sleep wasn't sleep deprivation.

I think the idea is that you're never more than 4 hours away from sleeping
at any time during the day.

Re:Create a self-test first. (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585037)

My god, that blog has changed since the last time I looked at it!

I don't recall there being any ads at all back in... November? October? I think he was a week or two in at the time, and I definitely remember the "A Wife's perspective" entry. Maybe an AdWords box. Though I suppose I could have had a stricter AdBlock config on that computer.

But an ad banner below each headline on the category archives? Three sets of Google Adwords on the individual posts? Plus the other sidebar ads? That seems a bit excessive.

I understand using ads to offset hosting costs, and I understand using ads to make some money... but there's a point at which it stops being a blog and starts being a bunch of banners with a little content.

Re:Create a self-test first. (1)

Polo (30659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585152)

Wonder where he's getting the time to add all this stuff...

Doesn't the guy sleep? :)

Re:Create a self-test first. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584696)

That is a complete lie! I don't sleep more than an hour a night, and I feel great! I do not loose any brain function, in fact I once had a dog that kept peeing on the floor. We cured him by when I went to the office party and got really drunk. What were we talking about?

polyphasic sleep (2, Informative)

UncleBoy (45706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584115)

check out http://www.stevepavlina.com/ [stevepavlina.com]

Re:polyphasic sleep (1)

fastgood (714723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584368)

Eating is at least as important as sleeping. I'd rewrite it as:

polyphasic eating, the Uberman eating schedule, suggests that you eat 20-30 minutes six times per day,
with equally spaced snacks every 4 hours around the clock. This means you're only eating 2-3 hours per day.

Re:polyphasic sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584743)

Of course, you can't eat w/o pooping:

Polyphasic pooping, the Uberman pooping schedule, suggests that you poop 20-30 minutes six times per day,
with equally spaced poops every 4 hours around the clock. This means you're only pooping 2-3 hours per day.

see http://stevepavlina.com/ (0, Redundant)

umrk (99195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584145)

see subject.

Re:see http://stevepavlina.com/ (2, Funny)

fastgood (714723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584411)

Although the jury is out when it comes to how to break up 60 minutes of sleep ...
when it comes to sex, everybody agrees 3 quickies in the afternoon is just right.

Sleeping in cities around the 1900's (5, Interesting)

jgardn (539054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584169)

I can't remember where I read this, but apparently our urban ancestors had different sleep habits than we have today.

If I recall correctly, they would go to bed early, wake up about midnight, play around and eat for a few hours, and then go back to sleep. Then they would wake up early in the morning.

You could find vendors who would go down the street offering apples and such for sale in the middle of the night at that time.

Pretty weird.

Our habit of sleeping all in one chunk is probably a result of World War II, where the military enforced that sleep habit. Other than that, rural people live like this (sun up-sun down) for obvious reasons. They couldn't miss a moment of daylight.

I wouldn't be surprised if various patterns of sleep were highly effective. I know my children like the naps during the day, even if it means they only get 8 hours of sleep at night instead of 10.

Re:Sleeping in cities around the 1900's (3, Funny)

DissidentPhoenix (848080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584557)

I know my children like the naps during the day, even if it means they only get 8 hours of sleep at night instead of 10. It's called a 'siesta'. It's an incredible new invention by children - all part of their plot to take over the world!

Re:Sleeping in cities around the 1900's (1)

pomo monster (873962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584601)

That describes my sleep schedule, but then, I do live in New York.

Re:Sleeping in cities around the 1900's (4, Interesting)

Valiss (463641) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584613)

If I recall correctly, they would go to bed early, wake up about midnight, play around and eat for a few hours, and then go back to sleep. Then they would wake up early in the morning.

Actaully, my boss is EXACTLY like this. And frankly, as someone with a normal sleep cycle, it's annoying as hell.

Imagine coming in to work on a Tuesday and have 15 e-mails from your boss timestamped 9pm, 9:10pm, 1:13am, 2::20am, then a few more in the morning.

I first thought that he never slept and never stopped working. As it turns out, only the latter is true. But that must go hand-in-hand with being the owner and manager of a company.

Either way, he comes across to his employees that he's insane. But perhaps that is what he needs to run a business.

Re:Sleeping in cities around the 1900's (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585771)

I recall hearing, though I forget the source, that what profoundly changed sleep patterns was cheap and widespread lighting. Oil lamps and candles could be expensive, so esp. in winter people didn't stay up so late. When the sun went down, most people went to be shortly there after. With the advent of cheap gas and electric light this changed dramatically.

Be careful. (2, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584179)

If you're playing with alternative sleep patterns, take care. It can have all sorts of unpleasant side effects, including playing with your mind, changing your emotional makeup, and so on.

If you forcibly deprive someone of sleep, they end up with physical brain damage and then die. You're unlikely to be able to do that to yourself, but... take care, okay?

I knew it! (5, Funny)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584469)

If you forcibly deprive someone of sleep, they end up with physical brain damage and then die.

So it is true that my boss is trying to kill me. I though I was just being paranoid.

Re:Be careful. (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585528)

I was reading about 'devils touch' or whatever its called, a state in which you know youre sleeping, youre really half awake but completely paralyzed. There I found it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_Paralysis

This is a possibility when you mess up your sleep cycles. It happens to me when I'm travelling, almost never in normal life. It is said that it can happen when youre brought quickly back from REM. Fear and bewilderment are felt, but it can really be scary at times.

I think other dangerous states can be entered too, and if you dont have a social life while trying various sleep patterns using drugs, you can become schizophrenic.

Well the sleep paralysis should be enough to scare anyone trying it.

Re:Be careful. (1)

Feneric (765069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585756)

Yup. Check out the "Night Hag Syndrome", too. I've never actually experienced it myself, but I've met people who have. The tricks the mind can play on one during sleep paralysis are pretty amazing.

Sleep is for the weak (1, Interesting)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584180)

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after. -- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Re:Sleep is for the weak (2, Funny)

BenjiTheGreat98 (707903) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584315)

You know I can never go to sleep immediately after programming. I have stupid 'for' loops going through my head I can't make them stop!

Re:Sleep is for the weak (2, Funny)

Baddas (243852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584937)

Try a break. /coding joke

Re:Sleep is for the weak (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585108)

This joke would have been much more effective if you had taken the following steps to maximize its humor:

  1. Do not explain or identify the joke as such. Your readers will understand it and laugh, if it is funny. Do not force my hand.
  2. Do not use malformed "close tags" in the style of Fark -- at Slashdot, we know that this should have been properly opened with <joke type="coding"> and closed with </joke>. Just haphazardly inserting a slash followed by some space-separated words is an offense to your audience.
  3. Use the "break" keyword appropriately. Your C compiler does not understand the Fark markup you used. Neither do we.

The correct delivery of your joke would have been:

Try taking a break;

Thanks.

Re:Sleep is for the weak (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585899)

She should have listened to me :

Less yap, less kidnap.

Fibromyalgia and Delta Wave Sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584198)

I don't know about the half hour nap, four hours awake thing, but...without enough delta wave sleep a lot of important things don't happen, among them the relaxing and healing of muscle tissue. People subjected to traditional sleep deprivation develop fibromyalgia symptoms, one of the causes of fibromyalgia in many cases being a sleep defect that prevents entry into delta. I don't know if 30 minutes is enough time to get REM *and* Delta. Any sleep experts out there?

Re:Fibromyalgia and Delta Wave Sleep (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584286)

Since fibromyalgia is not universally accepted as actually existing, I'd say anything goes.

Alternatively, since sleep deprivation can induce depression, and fibromyalgia is often symptomatically treated with antidepressants, then it doesn't seem impossible that the two are connected.

IANA sleep expert, but there you have it.

Re:Fibromyalgia and Delta Wave Sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584676)

who doesnt believe it exists? Scientologists?

Re:Fibromyalgia and Delta Wave Sleep (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584894)

None of my friends that I've ever discussed it with believe in it, and that's a pretty common position [wikipedia.org] .

On the other hand, none of them positively rule it out. They just haven't seen enough evidence to trust it as a diagnosis.

Re:Fibromyalgia and Delta Wave Sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584982)

If I correctly read the skepticism position there, you're saying that fibromyalgia is completely explainable with other pathologies, correct?

Explain the sleep defect, then. 95% of diagnosed fibromyalgia patients will repeatedly shunt out of delta wave sleep during sleep studies. If you zap a healthy individual every time they start to enter delta wave sleep for a while, they'll develop tender points, fatigue and pain. Give a fibromyalgia patient amytriptylene or cyclobenzaprine, the sleep defect usually goes away, and symptoms improve markedly.

Looking at that evidence and saying the condition is a conglomerate of other conditions that present nothing of the sort doesn't make sense.

Re:Fibromyalgia and Delta Wave Sleep (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585576)

If I correctly read the skepticism position there, you're saying that fibromyalgia is completely explainable with other pathologies, correct?

I'm not saying jack, just pointing to a more eloquent version of what I'd heard friends and family imply. I am the wrong person to debate regarding physical or mental illnesses. However, I can relate with some certainty the idea that many doctors do not believe that fibromyalgia is a real illness, or at most that it's real but diagnosed far more often than truly justified (ie, the same as many people believe about ADHD).

Mod parent down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584870)

For not reading any medical literature in the last ten years.

Fibromyalgia does exist, as has been shown by numerous double blind controlled studies, and the sleep study test. Just because medical science hasn't finalized on a complete theory of the disease doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Also, the implication that it's treated with anti-depressants because fibromyalgia sufferers are making it all up is insulting. It's well demonstrated that modifying neurotransmitter levels in the brain alters the perception of pain, along with a host of other effects. As an example, Cyclobenzaprine, an old tricyclic antidepressant that was so bad at treating depression they took it off the market, is now used to treat muscle spasms and the sleep defect of most fibromyalgia patients.

Mod down that one too, then! (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585613)

The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] states:
Many primary care physicians (in contrast to many rheumatologists) feel that fibromyalgia is not an actual disease at all. [...] Some physicians consider fibromyalgia to be a "diagnosis of last resort," conferred upon a patient when a provider is otherwise unable to explain a patient's constellation of symptoms. However, this view is not universally accepted, with many rheumatologists considering fibromyalgia to be an actual disease.

In short, many primary care physicians, and many rheumatologists, do not believe that fibromyalgia is an actual disease. I am not the one arguing this point; I'm merely restating the positions of others. If you believe that the article is incorrect then feel free to edit it or explain your rationale on the discussion page.

Re:Fibromyalgia and Delta Wave Sleep (1)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585060)

Sleep deprivation is a short-term antidepressant (which works until the person wakes up). Google for the relevant terms to find lots of links, e.g. http://www.psycom.net/depression.central.sleepdep. html [psycom.net] ).

Idiocy! (5, Informative)

DissidentPhoenix (848080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584201)

Polyphasic sleep isn't an effective long-term way to decrease your overall sleep time. For starters, it tends to take people a certain amount of time to get to sleep, which changes depending on time of day and overall sleep debt that has been built up. This wastes precious minutes.
As well as this, there have been quite a few studies that have examined what happens to people who try polyphasic sleep. The results tend to involve an ever-increasing sleep debt. You could try looking for the '90 minute day' - most participants who come out of those experiments will afterwards sleep for quite a while. That's pretty strong evidence that they've built up quite a bit of sleep debt.

You don't WANT to maximise your REM sleep at the expense of slow-wave sleep. While it's true that REM sleep tends to happen in 90 minute cycles mostly unrelated to the sleep/wake cycle, REM sleep is not the only goal of sleep. In normal people, it tends to happen most towards the end of the sleep period. It's also interesting to note that people suffering from clinical depression tend to have a greater ratio of REM sleep to non-REM sleep.

It would be much more effective in my opinion to gradually decrease the amount of sleep you get each night by something like 15 minutes. Once you get down to around the 5-6 hour mark, you're likely to start to suffer for it, but if you break the rigid routine, you're likely to require less sleep than you did before decreasing sleep time. The theory goes that people who do this sleep more efficiently - they also tend to get greater periods of slow-wave sleep early in the sleep period.

And of course, the so-called 'Uberman' cycle completely ignores the effects that light and dark have on people. Try looking up the research of Dr. Leon Lack into bright light therapy. If you are stupid enough to try polyphasic sleep, you might want to make sure that during your wake periods, you're exposed to quite strong light and during your sleep periods, you don't get any. Even if your sleep/wake cycle becomes uncoupled with the time of day - which is unlikely considering that people with different sleep patterns like this STILL find it more difficult to get to sleep at certain times of day - bright light and darkness will probably have a big impact.

Solo Circumnavigators (5, Informative)

Nanuk (12427) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584218)

Polyphasic sleep [wikipedia.org] is used by Solo Circumnavigating sailors. It's the only way to survive. Taking 20 minute catnaps is a lot safer than trying to sleep for hours at a time. Or, for that matter, doing something as dangerous as sailing around the world by yourself while chronicly sleep deprived. I think there was a Nova that talked about this sort of thing a while back.

Re:Solo Circumnavigators (2, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585197)

Polyphasic sleep is used by Solo Circumnavigating sailors.
Solo circumnavigation is an occasional extreme circumstance though, not a day-job.

Simple way to force this schedule (5, Funny)

qengho (54305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584269)


this is not something to dive into lightly, as it requires rigid scheduling

Pfft. Just have a kid. I guarantee that at least one parent will automatically do this.

Re:Simple way to force this schedule (1)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584992)

Bah...one kid only tinkers with the sleep schedule. If you're really committed you need to have multiple births (e.g. >=twins).

Monkeys read subjects.. (1)

DiarmuidBourke (910868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584362)

A friend of mine in College suggested this pattern of sleep to me awhile ago. (In fact, when I saw the /. headline, I tought he had submitted it.) I think he is fairly interested in trying this sleep pattern. I would be interested also if I didn't feel like it would interfere with lecture/lab times. It could also cause significant trouble at work. Convincing your boss that you need to sleep every 3 or 4 hours for a half hour mightn't go down too well. Plus if your boss knew you were undertaking such a sleep pattern, he might be worried about your mental ability to carry out your job. For now, I guess I'll stick to my normal sleep patern, 2am till 8am on weekdays and 4am to 1pm on weekends.

My own sleep "experiments" (5, Informative)

Retribution (35798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584458)

Well, not so much "experiments" as "crushing bouts of insomnia".

I have, in the past, maintained sleep schedules where I averaged just under 3 hours of sleep a night for well over a month at a time. I know precisely how much I was sleeping because I kept precise logs, as per my doctor's request. This wasn't by choice--I simply couldn't sleep.

You see, I've always struggled with insomnia, and twice in my life it's gotten this bad. As such, I've come to be aquainted with what affect sleep patterns can have on a person. I can say that a lot of what I'm reading in the "Uberman's Sleep Schedule" seems plausible, except the bit about not being tired. You're tired, damn tired, but you can't tell after a while.

Naturally, the circumstances for me were a bit... different, but I can't really recommend a schedule like this. When you don't get enough sleep, you're never really awake. Worse, you can't really tell how much it's affecting you while you're still suffering from sleep deprevation--it's a lot like being drunk in that regard. Only the incredibly foolish (or incredibly experienced) think they can tell how drunk they are.

What's the point of spending more time awake if you're only sort of awake?

On the other hand, it's only fair to mention that my curiosity is in fact piqued. I'm tempted to try it myself, and see what happens. Worst comes to worst, it could trigger another long-term disruption in my sleep schedule, but hey, at least that's a known evil!

Re:My own sleep "experiments" (2, Funny)

dbIII (701233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585662)

Well, not so much "experiments" as "crushing bouts of insomnia".
I had a really bad case of that once - so decided if I couldn't sleep I may as well watch Babylon5 continously. Once I got up to season 5 sleep was easy.

Re:My own sleep "experiments" (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585815)

You should have watched TNG... ;-)

Tried this once, would like to try again... (4, Informative)

abiessu (74684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584582)

I tried the "uberman's sleep schedule" for two weeks about three years ago. The first week was rough, but the second went pretty well. The rigidity really is a crucial factor... I overslept once and couldn't get back into the schedule (on the 13th or 14th day).

I've been working up a plan to get a schedule like this going again, but it's really tricky due to the various circumstances of real life... separate weekend activities/schedules from the rest of the week, parties or dates might last more than three hours... it's almost a catch-22 scenario for everyone past the age of four or so.

But the 'thirty minutes every four hours' schedule isn't the only alternative... as another poster mentioned, sleeping in a couple separate blocks also works -- e.g., a 3-1-2-2 schedule (a total of eight hours sleep with one block of 3 hours, a block of 1 hour, and so on), or similar. I've heard rumors from some psychology friends that the most effective sleep schedule is different for each person; perhaps experimenting with a few representative schedules is worth trying.

There is some good discussion on this very topic on everything2, just follow the wikipedia link through (e2 probably doesn't have quite as much server power): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uberman_sleep_schedul e [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Tried this once, would like to try again... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584774)

Some suggest the biphasic, 5-7 hours at night, .5 hours during the day.

Steve Pavlina on polyphasic sleep (5, Informative)

Ezku (806454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584632)

Steve Pavlina, apparently a man with a huge amount of people following his blog about various ways of self-improvement, has rather nice coverage on his experiment with polyphasic sleep [stevepavlina.com] . Long story short, he's been doing it for over 90 days now and claims to have improved his quality of life tremendously. It's a nice read, go check it out. Here's an excerpt from his entry on day 90:

Mentally I feel very different. My brain actually feels different than when I slept monophasically. -- Its really hard to describe this sensation, but it sort of feels like my brain is soaking in a warm jacuzzi. I feel very mentally relaxed and unstressed most of the time, at least when I keep to my naps roughly on schedule. Maybe its because I always just recently woke up.

Personally, I do think polyphasic sleep can have a positive effect. It just takes a lot of character and a suitable life situation to make it work. Not for everybody, but not bogus either.

Warm jacuzzi brain? (3, Insightful)

Fluffy the attack ki (890645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585153)

Am I the only one who is alarmed by the phrase "it sort of feels like my brain is soaking in a warm jacuzzi" or by the idea that one might constantly feel like they just woke up in the morning?

Don't we drink coffee because it gets rid of those sensations?

6/6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584704)

I was unemployed for a while and found that I quite enjoyed six hours of sleep twice a day. Now I sleep seven hours during the week and twelve to fifteen on the weekend (only once).

I tried this, but..... (1)

ezratrumpet (937206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584707)

....that whole thing about having a boss, and all. If I had no other responsibilities but my own business, I'd try the 28 hour day, though - I've known for a long time that I just don't fit on the "normal" schedule. My grandmother was the same way. Maybe after I become independently wealthy.

Re:I tried this, but..... (4, Informative)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585353)

Without an external stimulus such as daylight or a rigid schedule, most peoples' sleep cycles will be between 25 and 26 hours. 28 hours is about the upper limit of what people can manage, while 22 hours is the lower limit.

I did this for a while, last year (5, Interesting)

really? (199452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584835)

Basically, I slept when I felt sleepy - it averaged about 50 to 90 minutes every four hours.
It was REALLY great for me. I definitely got more accomplished. On the other hand, it was driving those around me bonkers. I was either sleeping or going 100 miles an hour at various, and always changing, times of the day/night; so, they could not rely on me for help/conversation/etc unless they could fit it in a certain period.
Had to go to Europe and a "regular" sleeping pattern for a few months, so I changed back to "night" sleeping.
When circumstances allow it I will DEFINITELY go back to what I now know to be poliphasic sleep.

a pharmaceutical rather than behavioral approach (5, Interesting)

m-laboratories (840170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585032)

I have a friend who worked for a defense sleep research lab, before Provigil was available via prescription. They were dosing humans, monkeys, rats, mutant fruit flies, basically everything they could get their hands on just trying to find any possible side-effects. Despite a couple years of research with massive quantities of the stuff, they couldn't find a thing.

There are two remarkable qualities to the drug. First, you can use it for days at a time, and it only loses effectiveness after about 120 waking hours. At that point you need to sleep - but you never crash; you just sleep a normal 8 hours, wake up refreshed, and swallow the next pill.

One of the problems with a polyphasic sleep schedule is that it doesn't jive well with the normal structure of society. But with Provigil, you can still be fairly well synced-up with everybody else.

Besides, why change your behavior when you can just use drugs?

Re:a pharmaceutical rather than behavioral approac (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585303)

I have a friend who worked for a defense sleep research lab, before Provigil was available via prescription.


Links please... Something like this would be considered Major enough that the users will need to instantly plop something in their bookmarks listing - just like everything else on the Internet that gets plopped into a single bookmark listing never to be looked at again. :)

Besides, why change your behavior when you can just use drugs?


On a more serious note, such drugs could easily be classified as "performance-enhancing", and could easily cause people to be disqualified when they try to enter the olympics or some other athletics competition. (If cough medicine is somehow tagged as a performance enhancer, then so could this anti-sleep pill.)

Modafinil (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585609)

The substance is called Modafinil [wikipedia.org] . And I can say from, um, some people that I know, um, that it does what it claims to. The weird thing about it is that it takes a long time to kick in, unlike caffeine, and its effects last for a long time. Even weirder, you can't feel any effects from it at all - that's the point. It's not a stimulant and has no "feel good" properties of other stimulants - you just never feel sleepy. You can basically function fully normally on 4-6 hours a night with it. The only side effect seems to be making your urine smell funny.

Re:a pharmaceutical rather than behavioral approac (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585925)

Having done the provigil thing, I can say this: It's good stuff, overall, but I don't use it anymore.

I suffer from hypersomnia; so I'm a prime candidate for provigil. Unmedicated, I sleep over 12 hours a day. (Well, I have to qualify this -- I'm also such a light sleeper that the sound of the sheets as I roll over can wake me up. My college roomate loved me because nobody could pull pranks on him while he was asleep.) It really sucks to sleep this much. It's great for a vacation - but when you can't escape sleep, it's another story. (Falling asleep at inopprotune times is not only embarassing, but life-threatening).

Provigil made a huge difference -- I was able to stay awake enough to have something like a normal life, but was entirely free of the 'hummingbird' feeling of a stimulant. The problem is the stuff is obscenely expensive. (My doc told me about a salesman comparing the high cost to a few cups of starbucks per day).

I stopped taking provigil because I found a considerably less expensive drug whose side-effects I could live with.

Provigil is not without side effects. One that I discovered on my own (and was confirmed through a bit of research): Provigil can cause some rather powerfully rank... urine. Sure, it's not one of those things people will worry much about, but it is an unpleasent side effect.

Weird (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585454)

My sleep cycle is really 30 to 32 hours. Thats just what feels normal. I have to force myself to sleep every night, and have trouble getting up in the morning. But on holidays, I just take the 12 hours sleep + 24 hours awake time which feels very natural. I've slept constantly for well over 24 hours, more like 28 hours, after having been awake for 48+ hours. This was when I wasnt working.

I cant do short cycles, and I could never do afternoon naps. Once I'm out, I'm out at least 7 hours, preferably 12 hours.

Re:Weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585767)

Dang. Almost exactly how it is for me. On long holidays i naturally drift towards a 28-30 hour schedule.

I wonder how many people there are out there like us?

My Experience (1)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585651)

I tried it off-and-on for a couple of years without much success. In the end, it seems that my body firmly insists on at least 6 hours of sleep per 24, but that's a bit better than the 10 it would take if I let it. I eventually decided the schedule's disruptive effects and the incredible amount of effort it was taking didn't yield a net gain.

Probably the best bit of advice I can offer is to avoid caffiene entirely. When I experimented with having a little diet soda over the nighttime hours is the only time I feel like it was something 'dangerous'.

another idea (1)

mickeyreiss (859595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585870)

this website presented an idea on the topic a while ago. http://emptv.com/sleepcycles.php [emptv.com] some of his ideas are pretty wild!

Monastic Sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585893)

At a Buddhist monastery I stayed at recently, the monks are not allowed to "sleep in." I forget what the hours were exactly, but basically I felt like I never got quite enough sleep. "At night the monk retires for six hours, sometimes only four hours of sleep." -- Buddhist Monk information [sukhi.com] .

The purpose of this to increase asceticism, mainly to decrease sexual desire which is a distraction while meditating.

Of course, ideally, your meditation can help you feel well rested even on less sleep. In practice this did not work for me, of course I'm still a beginner at meditation.

sleep is a good thing (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585896)

There is no question that a nap has a great deal of restorative power. However, I'm not so sure that nothing but naps is best.

The best thing I have found for memory, sharpness of mind, general energy ved my level, and productivity is to NEVER use an alarm clock. Of course, I telecommute so it's somewhat easier for me to get away with that. Interestingly, once I gave up on the alarm blasting me out of bed, AND on staying up at night after I get tired, I found that I settled into a natural rythem where I sleep approximatly 8 hours a night. After still longer, it became ALMOST reliable. That is, if I need to get up an hour earlier in the morning, going to bed an hour earlier will do it.

It also greatly improved my general outlook (which was around the borderline of depression before).

I do know that sleep deprivation is insideous and causes it's sufferers to underestimate their impairment.

28 hour day (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585912)

this article links to the 28 hour day. http://www.dbeat.com/28/ [dbeat.com] I think its an excellent idea.
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