Alternate Sleep Cycles

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Alternate Sleep Cycles

Postby Sabina » Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:44 am

I have strange sleeping habits, so the below article was interesting for me personally. Maybe you'll like it too.

Alternative Sleep Cycles:
You Don't Really Need 6-8 Hours!

Most people only think that there is one way to sleep: Go to sleep at night for 6-8 hours, wake up in the morning, stay awake for 16-18 hours and then repeat. Actually, that is called a monophasic sleep cycle, which is only 1 of 5 major sleep cycles that have been used successfully throughout history. The other 4 are considered polyphasic sleep cycles due to the multiple number of naps they require each day. How is this possible? How is this healthy? Well the most important of every sleep cycle is the Stage 5 REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which has been shown to provide the benefits of sleep to the brain above all other stages of sleep. When changing over to a polyphasic cycle, the lack of sleep tricks the body into entering REM sleep immediately instead of 45 to 75 minutes into sleep like in the monophasic sleep. This way, you still get the benefits of 8 hours of sleep without wasting all of the time it takes to get to REM cycles, resulting in a much more efficient sleep cycle. Here are polyphasic cycles:

Uberman Cycle:
20 to 30 minute naps every 4 hours, resulting in 6 naps each day. The uberman cycle is highly efficient, and usually results in feeling healthy, feeling refreshed upon waking and extremely vivid dreams. Many uberman-users report increased ability to lucid dream as well. However, the rigid schedule makes it near impossible to miss naps without feeling horribly tired. Blogger Steve Pavlina tried the cycle for 5.5 months and had amazingly positive results.He only reverted to monophasic sleep so that he could be on the same cycle as his wife and children.

Everyman Cycle:
One longer “core” nap that is supplemented with several 20-30 minute naps. The most successful variations that I have read about are either one 3 hour nap and three 20-minute naps or one 1.5 hour nap with 4-5 20 minute naps, all of which have equal amounts of time in between each nap. This cycle is much easier to adjust to than the Uberman and allows for more flexibity in nap times and in skipping naps when necessary. It is also still extremely efficient compared to monophasic with only 3-4 hours of sleep per day. Many bloggers have tried out this cycle and reported no negative effects on their health.

Dymaxion Cycle:
Bucky Fuller invented the cycle based on his belief that we have two energy tanks, the first is easy to replenish whereas the second tank (second wind) is much harder to replenish. So Bucky began sleeping for 30 minutes every 6 hours. That’s 2 hours a day of sleep! He reported feeling, “the most vigorous and alert condition I have ever enjoyed.” Doctors examined him after several years of using the cycle and pronounced him perfectly healthy. In fact, Fuller only stopped the cycle because his business associates were still stuck on monophasic cycles. This is by far the most extreme of the 4 alternate cycles, but also the most efficient.

Biphasic/Siesta Cycle:
Not even worthy of a diagram, the biphasic cycle is basically that of every college student in America. The biphasic cycle consists of sleeping for 4-4.5 hours at night, and then taking a 90 minute nap around noon. So not all that different, still more efficient than monophasic, but not by much.

So which cycle is right for you?
That completely depends on your lifestyle. Keep in mind that if you decide to switch to either the Dymaxion or Uberman cycles, you will be a zombie from day 3 to around day 10 until your body fully adjusts to the cycle. Here are some other tips I have gathered from reading other people’s accounts:

- Eat healthy, avoid fatty foods and the adjustment will be much easier

- Make sure you have a project to work on during all of your new awake hours as it makes the time go by faster

- Also make sure you have two or three weeks of freedom to adjust to the cycle so that you don’t go to work or school completely dead from sleep deprivation

- Hang in there. Each of the cycles will get exponentially easier all of the sudden after the first 2 weeks or so. Just be patient and diligent! Don’t skip naps or change your nap times around or you will basically have to start your adjustment period over.

- Use natural cues for being waking up from naps like sunlight and loud music, while using darkness and silence for sleep (obviously)

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Re: Alternate Sleep Cycles

Postby Sabina » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:58 pm

Some more thoughts on sleeping habits...

Some studies suggest that sleeping less can be detrimental to one's health. I don't have any of these studies handy, but it's one of those things one hears here and there. I've been casually informed of this by various people again and again.

But, I think it is important to differentiate though whether the people in the surveys slept less by choice or by necessity.
If someone is overworked and stressed out and therefore doesn't get a sufficient amount of sleep is certainly quite different from someone who simply sleeps less by choice.

It is said that various artists and geniuses have chosen polyphasic sleep. One of the most famous for this is Leonardo Da Vinci.

This was also interesting...
According to researchers, they have yet to find any vital biological function that sleep restores. As far as anyone can tell, muscles don't need sleep, just intermittent periods of relaxation. The rest of the body goes along seemingly unaware of whether the brain is asleep or awake.

Whatever combination of exotic or mundane things sleep turns out to be for, researchers admit they still don't know what the ideal amount of sleep is needed to keep our bodies and brains in good working order.
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Re: Alternate Sleep Cycles

Postby kai » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:08 am

This is sort of reviving this topic, but I've an interesting story about an interesting method for sleep purposes that used to be performed by a friend of mind who lives in New York.

Like me, my friend is an insomniac, so to battle his lack of sleep, he rarely slept period. Instead he meditated for around 5 hours a day and then slept about 1 maybe 2 hours. The result: in terms of sleep deprivation, his doctors could see no detriment to his body or mind in any way. In fact they found his body quite fully functional equivalent to what anyone who sleeps a full 8 hours would be expected to be able to do, possibly better. From what I know he had been performing this method for several years.

Sadly my friend has many health problems that stem beyond just physical health problems and he has not been able to make much contact for the past 7 months, his doctors can't tell what is wrong with him and the last I heard from him about a month ago he was in a coma for a short period of time before coming back out of it. Note that his body was never considered sleep deprived and his mind was quite brilliant and sharp never slacking in any way, he just got a bad hand more or less.

I've tried this technique once or twice but I am unable to keep myself from moving for that long a period while still awake. So for me it has not been of much use. My friends theory was simply that the majority of sleep was basically the brain and body being in a relaxed state where high levels of oxygen are carried throughout the body at a slower than normal pace. He thought that meditation achieved that goal and thus his method was created. However he still continued to sleep 1 or 2 hours a day due to the brain's need to consciously shut down from time to time in order to fully relax and process information.

Just felt like stating another method that has been tried.
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Re: Alternate Sleep Cycles

Postby ThePermster » Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:54 pm

Hrmm that's pretty interesting kai, I wonder if meditation emulates some of the neurological behaviour of REM. Might explain some of the hallucinatory aspects perhaps?

It's already been mentioned but I think it's worth double noting for all those who might be interested to try these out, on the subject of alternative sleep schedules, the more specific your schedule is to REM the more strict you have to be to keep to it.
For instance, if you set your internal clock to the Uberman for a while and you try to stay up even 15mins beyond when you usually take a nap you will hit the wall hard. A friend of mine used to do the Uberman and periodically throughout the day he'd either have to go take a nap or he would turn almost instantly into the walking dead. Which kinda helped him maintain the schedule, but was absolutely no good if he couldn't make his designated naps for some extenuating reason.
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Re: Alternate Sleep Cycles

Postby Jade » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:13 pm

Good to know Permster!
Personal experiences are priceless. Lots of things sound interesting in theory, but may be entirely different if experienced personally.

That's what we are here to do... share theories and our experiences with them.

I am a pretty average sleeper, so not much to report, but I am interested in this topic. What about dreaming during polyphasic sleep cycles? Does anyone have any information or experience?
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Re: Alternate Sleep Cycles

Postby mirjana » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:08 pm

I was thinking where to put this and finally I decided to put it here as it is somehow connected to this topic.
I have followed DS on Stumble Upon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/deepspirits/reviews/
There I found a ink to a web site that provides many proven mental techniques that serve to help when struggling to fall asleep.
One of them that sounds interesting to me is the Body Levitation Technique.

By utilizing imagination, this technique helps to get rid of mental blocks that are result of stress at the end of the day. This technique, with imagination and visualization skills brings one in the state of relaxation that calms the body allowing the natural process of falling asleep.
Body Levitation Exercise (Step-By-Step):

Step 1:
Make sure that the room is quiet and void of any distracting noises.
Turn off or dim the lights.

Step 2:
Lie down on your bed and allow yourself to become relaxed.
Just look up at the ceiling, while allowing your muscles to relax for a couple minutes.

Step 3:
Close your eyes.
Pay attention to your breathing. Make sure to keep your breathing consistent and calm. No deep breaths, but just relaxed inhales and exhales.

Step 4:
Visualize that you are in a peaceful environment (e.g. in a meadow, lying on your back in a field of flowers).
You can feel a soft breeze as it is flows over you.

Step 5:
As you lie in this peaceful environment, visualize your body becoming lighter.
See the entire core of your body becoming lighter. Actually "feel" as though you are light and almost weightless.

Step 6:
Now imagine your body beginning to float just a couple feet off the mattress.
Allow yourself the time to feel this sensation of rising into mid-air.

Step 7:
Continue to experience this feeling of rising.
Then change your focus on becoming heavier and floating back down to a resting position on the surface of the mattress.

Step 8:
Repeat steps 5 thru 7 over again.
Continue allowing yourself to rise and the rest back down again.
Eventually, your mind will become so relaxed that you will naturally fall asleep.
http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/6e84cQ/www.sleepingtricks.com/
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Re: Alternate Sleep Cycles

Postby Jade » Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:37 am

Here is an article about biphasic sleep from US Berkeley. I don't call this groundbreaking news, quite certain this is old news, but maybe I'm wrong.

An afternoon nap markedly boosts the brain’s learning capacity

BERKELEY — If you see a student dozing in the library or a co-worker catching 40 winks in her cubicle, don't roll your eyes. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brain power. Indeed, the findings suggest that a biphasic sleep schedule not only refreshes the mind, but can make you smarter.

Conversely, the more hours we spend awake, the more sluggish our minds become, according to the findings. The results support previous data from the same research team that pulling an all-nighter — a common practice at college during midterms and finals — decreases the ability to cram in new facts by nearly 40 percent, due to a shutdown of brain regions during sleep deprivation.

"Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap," said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and the lead investigator of these studies.

In the recent UC Berkeley sleep study, 39 healthy young adults were divided into two groups — nap and no-nap. At noon, all the participants were subjected to a rigorous learning task intended to tax the hippocampus, a region of the brain that helps store fact-based memories. Both groups performed at comparable levels.

At 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.

These findings reinforce the researchers' hypothesis that sleep is needed to clear the brain’s short-term memory storage and make room for new information, said Walker, who presented his preliminary findings on Sunday, Feb. 21, at the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego, Calif.

Since 2007, Walker and other sleep researchers have established that fact-based memories are temporarily stored in the hippocampus before being sent to the brain's prefrontal cortex, which may have more storage space.

"It's as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you’re not going to receive any more mail. It's just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder," Walker said.

In the latest study, Walker and his team have broken new ground in discovering that this memory-refreshing process occurs when nappers are engaged in a specific stage of sleep. Electroencephalogram tests, which measure electrical activity in the brain, indicated that this refreshing of memory capacity is related to Stage 2 non-REM sleep, which takes place between deep sleep (non-REM) and the dream state known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Previously, the purpose of this stage was unclear, but the new results offer evidence as to why humans spend at least half their sleeping hours in Stage 2, non-REM, Walker said.

"I can’t imagine Mother Nature would have us spend 50 percent of the night going from one sleep stage to another for no reason," Walker said. "Sleep is sophisticated. It acts locally to give us what we need."

Walker and his team will go on to investigate whether the reduction of sleep experienced by people as they get older is related to the documented decrease in our ability to learn as we age. Finding that link may be helpful in understanding such neurodegenerative conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, Walker said.

In addition to Walker, co-investigators of these new findings are UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellow Bryce A. Mander and psychology undergraduate Sangeetha Santhanam.

From http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2010/02/22_naps_boost_learning_capacity.shtml
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