Skip to content

Sleeping Only Two Hours A Day?

Update: After lots of further research, I have changed my mind about the usefulness of this technique. I don’t recommend it at all anymore. If you’d like to really dig into this subject, I suggest reading this article by Dr. Piotr Wozniak. Here’s a brief excerpt:

The answer to the question “to sleep or not to sleep polyphasically” will depend on your goals and your chosen criteria. You may want to sleep polyphasically if you want to maximize the frequency of a waking activity (e.g. monitoring the instruments and the horizon in solo yacht racing). Yet you will definitely not want to sleep polyphasically if:

  • you want to maximize your creative output
  • you want to maximize your peak alertness, your average alertness, or minimize the impact of your worst alertness levels
  • you want to maximize the health effects of sleep, etc.

I’ll leave the original article here for history’s sake (for now). At some point I’ll probably write a new sleep article, so keep your eyes open – but only during the day.

Is it possible to sleep only two hours a day and still retain functionality beyond that of a caffienated dippy bird?

Apparently so. I’ve been reading Tim Ferriss’ newest book, The 4-Hour Body, and I was particularly interested in his chapters about sleep. While the first chapter, “Engineering the Perfect Night’s Sleep”, was great, I was more interested in the second, “Becoming Uberman”. It describes a technique called polyphasic sleep, which is a sleep method that allows you to sleep as little as two hours a day while still feeling fully rested and retaining normal functionality.

Polyphasic sleep involves taking multiple short naps, which are spaced at regular intervals throughout the day. This is much different than monophasic sleep, in which you go comatose for one gigantic, eight-hour block of time. When you sleep monophasically, only a portion of your time spent sleeping is spend in REM sleep, which is the sleep you want. If you recall from my prior post on sleep, your sleep cycle involves five stages. Only the last of the five is REM sleep, and the other four stages are essentially wasted time. You can’t eliminate this wasted time in monophasic sleep; you need it in order to get into those REM stages.

Monophasic patternUnder monophasic sleep, you go through about four REM stages in an eight hour period. Each REM cycle is 20-30 minutes, so you’re really only getting two hours of real REM sleep a day. Polyphasic sleep is different, because once you’re used to it, your body slips into REM sleep right away. Since you’re only napping for 20 minutes each time, almost the entire nap is spent in REM sleep.

Uberman patternThere are several variants of polyphasic sleep, including the Everyman method and the Uberman method. All of the Everyman types involve a large chunk of core sleep (still much less than eight hours) supplemented by several naps throughout the day. The Uberman method abandons the core sleep chunk altogether and uses six 20-minute naps for a total of two hours of sleep.

While the Everyman method seems to be the sane choice for someone just starting out, I’m going straight for the Uberman. The reason is simple – I want more time. Sleep is something I wish I didn’t have to do. With the Uberman method, I won’t have to do much of it.

I’ll be journaling my experiences with this sleep method as I go along – the results will most likely be recorded over at, or maybe even here.¬†According to Steve Pavlina’s reflection on his own polyphasic experiment, I’ll feel like a complete zombie for around a week. So anything posted during the next week may or may not feature infantile grammar and ideas even a hippo would dismiss as ridiculous. I apologize in advance. Hopefully this experiment will give me more time and boost my productivity. There’s only one way to find out.