For many adults, sleep isn’t as satisfying as it should be due to the stressors of life that keep us from getting the amount we truly need. Most people think the proper amount of sleep should be included in a full night’s rest, but for many, this isn’t possible due to responsibilities, or simply how their own mind and body function.
Luckily, there are a few various approaches one can consider to help get the proper amount of hours you need to function. The Uberman Sleep Cycle is one such consideration and provides an alternate approach to the total amount of hours of sleep you get through a 24 hour period.
Uberman Sleep Cycle QuickView
Although described in more detail below, the Uberman Sleep Cycle integrates napping into a 24 hour period day to achieve the total amount of sleep you should be getting. It requires a very rigid schedule, and serves to work for short term productivity rather than a long term solution to rest. It stays in sync with various stages of the sleep cycle to avoid waking you from deeper, more restorative rest.
How Many Hours of Sleep You Should Be Getting
Although sleep patterns may vary from person to person, in general, an adult should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep in order to allow their body and mind to rest and recharge. As we sleep out body cycles through various sleep stages, and completing these cycles is crucial to our own body’s reaction to healing physically, and processing mentally.
There are 4 stages of sleep your body continually cycles through while you sleep, each marked by specific body and brain function. These are important to allow to process to avoid disrupting the healing and memory storage that is occuring. There are, however, times that are healthier than others that can be disrupted to avoid unhealthy breaks in body functioning.
This is a transitional stage that occurs between wakefulness and drifting into a deeper stage of sleep. It usually lasts only a few minutes and allows your body to relax and your heartbeat to begin slowing.
Light sleep can last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes and allows your body to fully embrace relaxation. Your eye movements also begin to stop and your body core temperature begins to lower. Brain activity is relatively non-resistant except in small spurts. You can wake from this stage fairly easily without feeling groggy.
This is a deep stage of sleep and can last from 40 to 60 minutes. Breathing and heart rate slow even more, blood pressure lowers, circulation increase as your body temperature drops, and brain activity stops. This is a period of rejuvenation and interrupting this can create a feeling of grogginess and tiredness.
Stage 4 – REM Sleep
This is a very deep stage of sleep but is marked by an increase in heart rate and respiration, and includes active brain function that creates eye movement. On average this happens about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and being forcefully awakened in this stage can create a feeling of confusion and tiredness.
Uberman Sleep Cycle in Detail
The idea behind the Uberman is polyphasic in nature, meaning you get your total amount of sleep through a series of carefully scheduled ‘naps’. These naps last no more than 20 minutes and are spaced evenly to reflect 6 naps every 4 hours, or 8 naps every 3 hours.
Typically, this is used to better take advantage of periods that require high levels of productivity. Because our bodies require sleep, your body adapts to what stage of sleep you enter into, with many dropping into REM sleep immediately without first moving through stages 1-3. Of course, this means there will be a transitional period after waking that requires your brain to refocus and may make you feel groggy at first, but this will soon pass.
It also takes time to adapt to long term use of this practice, and studies have shown that without aid to wake you, it most likely cannot be achieved. You also need to tie in recovery sleeps every few days in order to allow your body to transition. Many people claim it takes about a month to fully adapt to this cycle if you plan on using it long term, but others say your body will continually adapt for months if you choose to consider it.
Once more comfortable with the schedule, you may consider changing it somewhat to include 40-minute naps through the night or even shifting the schedule to longer periods of wakefulness with more closely scheduled naps. Some people report a 1.5-hour nap during the night and adjusting around that can be done as well. However, these altered schedules start to define this as something slightly different than a true Uberman Cycle.
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Uberman Sleep Cycle Benefits
Created to maximize time and efficiency, practicing this type of sleep cycle is best used when you need to properly function mentally on less sleep than you normally would. Some studies have shown the more frequent bouts of sleep may effectively lower the body’s need to sleep without disrupting mental alertness.
It also allows your brain to have multiple breaks throughout the day. Traditionally working straight through the day wears on cognitive function, which may slow you down. Letting your brain rest and recharge for these periods helps boost your productivity. This also allows you to have a true quality sleep.
Uberman Sleep Cycle Dangers
The originator of the study found it “incompatible with [his] schedule and goals”, and makes note that the assumption anyone can adjust to a new sleep schedule is not a true statement. Although some people may be able to make it, or a similar polyphasic nap schedule work, healthier alternatives that allow longer periods of sleep exist. These allow the body to naturally move through sleep stages.
Long term use of this practice may result in a never-ending cycle of sleep deprivation, and serious consequences can follow pertaining to health. Hormone changes, weight gain, heart palpitations, blood pressure increases, and struggles with short term memory are all well-documented side effects of an increased loss of sleep.
How to Know if it is Right For You
Before seriously considering introducing a polyphasic sleep schedule, do be aware that it is not suggested by the majority of healthcare professionals. But if you are looking to maximize time for a project or simply to try it out, be sure to keep a very strict schedule and a reliable way to wake yourself. If you are wondering how to start the Underman Sleep Cycle, at first only do it for 2 days at a time, for example on the 3rd, 7th, 10th, etc… day sleep as normal and then begin your cycle over again. You can adjust as needed until you are able to sustain a true 6 or 8 cycle nap schedule.
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The bottom line is that everyone requires various hours of sleep, and some people are better able than others to handle fewer hours. Hopefully, this Uberman Sleep Cycle review has provided some insight into the practice and explained where it might be best used, although we do not recommend to be used for any length of time.
With continual use, your body will add up the hours of sleep you’ve missed, and even if you feel alert once awake, you might begin to notice issues over time. Take time to reset your sleep if you do decide to practice any sort of polyphasic nap phase for a healthier approach to the process.