The Uberman sleep schedule is a method of organizing your sleeping time to maximize your REM sleep and minimize your non-REM sleep. The goal of the sleep cycle is that you are actively in REM sleep within a couple of minutes of falling asleep and remain in that state until you awaken.
In essence, someone utilizing the Uberman sleep schedule is actively modifying their sleeping habits so that they can immediately jump from waking to a few minutes worth of stage 1 sleep straight to stage 5 REM sleep.
The Sleep Schedule
The Uberman sleep schedule revolves around forcing yourself to rely on six twenty to thirty minute naps spread throughout the day for your daily dose of sleep.
How & Why It Works
Over the course of a normal eight hour sleeping period, your body moves through a continuous cycle of five distinct sleep stages. Of these, stage 5 REM sleep has been found to be the part of the cycle that provides the benefits of sleep for your mind.
Essentially, the trick of the Uberman's sleep schedule is to trick your mind into entering REM sleep as soon as you drift into a sleeplike state. Unfortunately, the only real way to do this is through sleep deprivation of sorts.
Adjusting To The Schedule
Adjusting to this schedule (as you might imagine) will make you feel like you've put your body and mind through a blender for a few weeks. Here are some general tips from someone who has actually adjusted to the Uberman Schedule:
- Do the adjustment when you are in complete control of your schedule. I converted to the cycle during a three week vacation; it would have been impossible to get through a normal work day while adjusting to this cycle. I was by and large a zombie.
- Find a large project to work on while adjusting. If you don't keep busy, you will revert to a normal sleep cycle. In my first failed attempt at switching (on vacation more than two years ago), I didn't have an ongoing project to keep me focused.
- Use physiological "tricks" to teach your body the cycle. I found that using a dawn simulation trick worked nicely. Every time I went to lay down, I set my monitor to wait thirty-two minutes, then begin running a program that had a strobe effect along with some excessively loud music. I also used two alarm clocks, and during the day I would adjust my blinds such that the sun would start shining in my face roughly a half an hour later. These would force me to become somewhat conscious for a while, which was all I needed to keep going.
- Days 3 to 10 are the hardest and least productive. I spent the adjustment period working on two projects, one involving programming and another involving writing. At the start of day three, I stored a backup of these projects because I knew that my thought processes were starting to become nonsensical and bizarre. For the next week, I continued to "work" on the projects, but utterly failed to make any sensible progress (interestingly enough, the fiction I wrote in this period was entertaining in a Thomas Pynchon meets The Electric Company kind of way). Don't expect to be hugely useful during the actual forced adjustment to compressed REM sleep.
- Convert to a more nutritious diet. I've found that drinking a great deal of orange and apple juice makes the Uberman schedule easier to follow, as does eating plenty of vegetables and avoiding fatty foods like the plague.
The side effects are largely unknown, but most who have adjusted report very intense dreams and also having total recall of their dreams. Several people have reported having larger appetites and craving particular foods which they had never craved before.
There may be other side effects, though. I'll leave it to you guys to discover them.