A long post on polyphasic sleep – The Fullerman

I’m doing that polyphasic thing again. Though I probably won’t be blogging it on a day-by-day basis this time.

But, of course, you want more details, because this is a blog, not Twitter, and you’re a stalker, not a normal person. See, normal people don’t read this, because they are too busy fighting of mountain lions while curing cancer and filling tax returns. But yes, details.

For those non-initiated (that is, semi-~ and not ~ [because in-initiated sounds bad]), polyphasic sleep is, essentially, sleeping less (in terms of total time) by sleeping more (in terms of number of phases). Well, actually, not quite, as you could split a regular eight hour portion of sleep into three sections and it would be polyphasic. Let me start again.

You know how you sleep eight hours a day (does not apply to active Uni students)? I don’t like that. At least, I don’t like me doing that. You sleep how you want to. I don’t care much. It’s me I dislike sleeping eight hours a day.

There’s a semi-popular concept relating to sleep cycles that occasionally rears it’s head on the webernets – polyphasic sleep. By far and large the most referred to variant of polyphasic is the “Uberman” sleep schedule, probably because zomg german words lol. To the best of my knowledge, the root of the Uberman was this everything2 node, the author of which, with a friend, apparently developed the schedule after researching claims regarding historic figures sleeping less and achieving teh smarts. The two then pulled the schedule off for six months, quitting because pending employment would make it difficult to continue. All claims, of course, and bold ones, considering the amount of people that have since attempted the Uberman and failed miserably.

A side note: The author of that e2 post, again according to her own claims, now employs a derivative of the Uberman, the Everyman. The Everyman is apparently softer to adapt to than the Uberman. However, as it’s only chopping off three hours, not six, I don’t consider it to be worth my time.

There’s been banter and debate each way regarding the Uberman, of course, but given that there hasn’t been a decent academic study into the affects of chopping out non-REM sleep from one’s life (to my knowledge), I’d think you’d be making a bold claim to say that polyphasic sleep is “bad” (or, conversely, “good”) for you, and that there’s evidence for it. Of course, given that I like being awake, that I dislike anecdotal evidence (and hence am producing more!), and that hey, it’s a cool conversation starter, I felt, and still feel, that it would be a good idea to attempt it. And so I tried, six months ago, the Uberman.

A quick recap of what the Uberman is, and my attempt, in dot point form:

  • Six naps of 20 minutes. That is, a 20 min nap every four hours, around the clock. No other sleep.
    • My specific naps were at 3:30, 7:30, 11:30, both AM and PM.
  • As expected, during the failed attempts I made it typically felt like I had pulled an all-nighter after the first day, which I had essentially done. I don’t think I ever made a full 48 hours.

There are a few reasons why that attempt fell apart, detailed here. The big two, however, I believe were a fairly major lack of local community support, and (deduced since the attempt) the air temperature in my room is too damn cold. And there’s a severe psychological block that causes one to detest the idea of leaving one’s bed at 3 AM. In other words, I am not made of strong stuff when it comes to mild discomfort.Which is a shame, for this kind of thing.

Of course, neither factor has changed much in the meantime, although my antagonists are slightly less antagonistic. If anyone has a suggestion on how to beat ButMyBedIsJustSoDamnToasty Syndrome, I’d love to hear it. Attempts will, of course, be made anyway.

There is a slight difference between the attempt at the Uberman six months ago and what I’m trying now, though. The main difference being that I’m not attempting the Uberman (no, I’m not dropping down to the Everyman. How could you even think such a thing?). I’m instead employing what I’m calling the Fullerman.

What’s the Fullerman? I’m glad you asked, deranged person gibbering at your computer screen. For those still sane, however, the Fullerman is a schedule that a man by the name of Buckminster Fuller supposedly slept to for two years, quitting because of social issues caused with his business associates. Of course, there’s counter claims that this is incorrect, and he slept only on occasion in a reduced manner. People also claim that he wore three watches, so who knows. History isn’t exactly a science, given that we can’t exactly test things empirically.

So, if you’re ever hauled before court, remember that. It’s the truth unless they have an observational time machine.

Buck (apparently) referred to it as “Dymaxion Sleep”. But, given that he referred to a lot of things with the word “Dymaxion”, because he paid someone money to develop the word “Dymaxion”, and that “Dymaxion” is a stupid word, I’m referring to it as Fullerman. Even if Buck didn’t sleep by it, in which case I hope someone will eventually retitle it as “Decentralised Sleeping Schedule”. Because I spent a long time thinking about the title of this blog, and be fucked if I don’t get my time’s worth out of the term.

It’s too long, isn’t it? I thought so. Decentralised Processing Unit can’t be said on the run. You’ve literally got to stop and think about it before saying it, and that means I’m cutting out an entire portion of readers, the walk-and-talkers. The URL is also too long. I mean, how am I going to get that on a billboard? Expensively, that’s how. Without much customer impact.

The Fullerman does the same thing as the Uberman, in terms of grand-picture: It “takes out” the two hours of REM (“deep”) sleep and splits it into naps, each one shorter than the typical REM cycle, in order to repeatedly abuse REM sleep, and hence have the user fall strait into REM each time se shuts sis peepers. However, it does it with four naps, each one thirty minutes in length, instead of six of twenty. And that’s why I think it’ll be better – Because, while I’ve got the same raw amount of “free time” to muck around with, the blocks are bigger. And that means that I’m able to, say, go to a fairly intensive summer course in Engineering Systems Design and, despite having three hours of lectures a day twice a week and six hours of practical work in two blocks a week and all of this strewn throughout the day like a blind man attempting to paint a portrait from a photograph reference (note – I’m assuming blind people can’t do this well, and hence the portrait wouldn’t look exactly… coherent, shall we say), I can still fit in the schedule and even make it to dinners, without fear of having to nod off during an overtime speech.

That I should be able to do this and fit in academic life is a very, very good thing. Assuming I can pull of this first phase, of course.


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