Uberman Sleep Schedule: Is It Safe?
For some, sleep is a welcomed invitation to slow down and relax; a time to catch up on much-needed rest and recharge your batteries. But for those looking to maximize every minute, sleep is something to be optimized and managed.
The Uberman sleep schedule is one of the many attempts humans have made at taming the beast of fatigue. It’s an extreme sleep strategy that requires napping several times throughout the day instead of sleeping for one long stretch at night.
The premise is that by breaking up sleep into smaller chunks, you can reduce the overall amount of time spent asleep while still getting all the benefits of a full night of rest. In theory, it sounds great. But in practice, it’s a recipe for sleep deprivation.
Uberman Sleep Schedule Overview
The Uberman sleep schedule is a type of polyphasic sleep, which is an umbrella term for any sleep pattern that involves more than two sleep periods per 24-hour day. Made popular by Marie Staver, who first started segmenting her sleep in 1999, Uberman requires napping 20 to 30 minutes every four hours around the clock. That’s a total of six to eight naps per day, taken every three to four hours.
In total, you’re only sleeping two to three hours per day on this schedule. And since naps can only do so much to make up for lost sleep, that means you’re likely to experience some pretty severe side effects of sleep deprivation.
Because of this, Uberman is considered a dangerous sleep schedule. It’s not recommended for beginners and should only be attempted under the supervision of a sleep specialist or doctor.
Examples of the Uberman Sleep Schedule
Multiple variations of the Uberman sleep schedule exist, and you can adjust and tweak the plan to better fit your lifestyle and needs. That said, all plans generally follow a similar framework and nap schedule.
Here’s an example of what a typical day might look like on the Uberman sleep schedule:
- 12:00 a.m. to 12:20 a.m.: Nap
- 12:20 a.m. to 4 a.m.: Awake
- 4:00 a.m. to 4:20 a.m.: Nap
- 4:20 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.: Awake
- 8:00 a.m. to 8:20 a.m.: Nap
- 8:20 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: Awake
- 12:00 p.m. to 12:20 p.m.: Nap
- 12:20 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Awake
- 4:00 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.: Nap
- 4:20 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.: Awake
- 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.: Nap
- 8:20 p.m. 12:00 a.m.: Awake
Benefits of the Uberman Sleep Schedule
Like any extreme lifestyle practices, there are no scientific studies to support the benefits of any kind of polyphasic sleep. And given the lack of sleep you’re getting on this plan, it’s unlikely that any benefits would outweigh the risks.
That said, some people who have adopted the Uberman schedule claim to have experienced the following benefits (remember that none of these are backed by science):
- More time in the day: Since you’re sleeping less, you theoretically have more time to get things done.
- Increased productivity: Some people claim they’re more productive on Uberman because they’re not as sluggish and tired during the day.
- More sleep quality: Because polyphasic sleep prioritizes slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, some people claim to have more restful and high-quality sleep on this schedule.
- Dream recall: People who follow polyphasic sleeping report having more vivid dreams and being able to remember them better.
- Reduced sleep latency: Because polyphasic sleepers leverage tools and methods to take naps efficiently, they claim to fall asleep faster than monophasic sleepers.
- Greater chance to lucid dream: Lucid dreaming is when you’re aware that you’re dreaming while you’re still asleep. Some people use polyphasic sleeping to increase their chances of having a lucid dream.
In terms of physical, mental, or emotional health benefits, science does not support any claims that Uberman or other polyphasic sleep schedules offer any advantages. In fact, the lack of sleep you’re getting on these plans is likely to have the opposite effect and cause sleep deprivation.
Risks of the Uberman Sleep Schedule
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased stress
- Moodiness and irritability
- Weakened immune system
- High blood pressure
- Lower libido
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of accidents
- Increased risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke
More research needs to be done into the lasting effects of polyphasic sleep, but the studies that do exist suggest that this sleep pattern can have serious consequences. A research team that examined a group of undergrad students in 2017 found that those who practiced polyphasic sleep had poorer academic performance compared to those who slept the same amount of hours.
Needless to say, the risks of sleep deprivation seem to outweigh any potential benefits of the Uberman sleep schedule. If you’re considering adopting this sleep pattern, make sure to speak with a doctor first. Only under the supervision of a medical professional should you attempt any sleep schedule that involves less than seven hours of sleep per day.
Adapting to the Uberman Sleep Schedule
If you do decide to give Uberman a go, do not attempt this schedule cold turkey. Just like with any sleep schedule, it will take time for your body to adjust. These tips and tricks can help you get started:
- Go gradually. A good rule of thumb is to transition slowly, allowing your body about a week to adjust to each new amount of sleep. So, if you’re currently sleeping for eight hours a night, start by cutting that down to seven hours. After a week, cut it down to six hours and continue until you reach your desired sleep schedule.
- Follow a different polyphasic sleep schedule first. Jumping from monophasic to Uberman is a big change. If you want to increase your chances of success, try another polyphasic sleep schedule first, like biphasic sleep or siesta sleep. This sleep pattern involves sleeping for around six hours at night and taking a 20- to 30-minute nap during the day.
- Choose the right napping times. Napping at the wrong time can completely throw off your sleep schedule. Be strategic about when you take your naps and make sure to align with your normal routine.
Overall, the Uberman sleep schedule is not recommended. While some people may claim to have success with this schedule, the risks of sleep deprivation far outweigh any potential benefits.
If you’re considering trying Uberman, make sure to speak with a doctor first and be prepared for some difficult adjustments.
Hirschowitz M, et al. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073412/
Phillips A, et al. (2017). Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5468315/
Polyphasic Sleep. (2021). ADVANTAGES. https://www.polyphasic.net/advantage/
Polyphasic Sleep. (2021). UBERMAN. https://www.polyphasic.net/uberman/#adaptation-route
Preston E. (2016). The Uberwomen Who Beat Sleep. https://www.vice.com/en/article/vv7e8m/the-uberwomen-who-beat-sleep
Weaver M, et al. (2021). Adverse impact of polyphasic sleep patterns in humans: Report of the National Sleep Foundation sleep timing and variability consensus panel. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33795195/
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