Uberman is the most widely known form of polyphasic sleep with its main appeal being the large amount of extra time it provides. For this reason, it is also one of the most widely attempted schedules by many first-time polyphasers. Sadly, due to its extreme difficulty or likely impossibility for people with normal genetics, almost all of these attempts end in failure.
If you are still interested in attempting this schedule, this page can prepare you for the grueling sleep deprivation and increase your chance of success.
Scheduling: 6 * 20 minute naps, equidistantly placed throughout the day, totaling 2 hours.
This schedule was named by Marie Staver (Puredoxyk) and Psuke Briah who attempted it in 1999, drawing inspiration from a TIME article about Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion sleep. It was first revealed in a post on everything2.com in 2000.
Both Steve Pavlina’s blog and Puredoxyk’s book Ubersleep do not convey the true extent of difficulty of the Uberman schedule. The first edition of Ubersleep claimed that adaptation to Uberman would take 1 week, and that people would start to feel great after two (Ubersleep 1st ed). This was later revised to state that people feel better after one week and perfect after 30 days in the second edition (Ubersleep 2nd edition). Puredoxyk later elaborated on this issue in response to many people getting the impression that Uberman adaptation was hard only for a week.
“ 1. Yeah WOW Uberman is NOT EASY and I have no idea where the “it’s only hard for a week” thing keeps coming from; it’s not me, at least not intentionally. I swear. I’ve consistently tried to err on the side of “no dude this is REALLY HARD”, and I don’t know, it just doesn’t stick with people. Frankly I suppose it’s probably because “anybody can do this!” is such a better selling answer. And, like, I’m sure 99.99% of all individual people could do it, with the right motivations and circumstances; but 99% of those won’t, and don’t really want to even if they think they do.”
(excerpt of Puredoxyk in Ubersleep Slack, posted 14.1.2018, accessed 3.10.2018)
“I’ve adjusted that number over time after pondering and thinking – when I first did this, I was so amazed when I stopped feeling UTTERLY HORRIBLE that I think I told myself, “Whee, it’s done!” at the time. In retrospect, though, there were definitely still some minor struggles ahead, and even at the time, when people asked me how long it took to feel FULLY used to it, I said 30-45 days.
Another reason my accounts sounds conflicting sometimes is….what does it MEAN to be 100% sleep-dep free? When I did Uberman I’d been experiencing sleep dep as a norm for most of my life. On day 10, I felt so good compared to the insomniac train-wreck that was my sleep previously that I declared a miracle / full recovery from adaptation on the spot. That was also the point where I felt good enough to decide that yup, I wanted to do this in the long-term. But was I actually fully adjusted with no further tired sport and full ease of sleeping at the time on day 10, no way. Things were over the line of “good” by then, but it took the usual month for habits to really form before it got fully non-sleep deppy.”
(excerpt of Puredoxyk in Ubersleep Slack, posted 14.1.2018, accessed 30.9.2018)
She only stayed on the schedule for 6 months and she was not able to re-adapt to it later. Nevertheless, people tend to overestimate their chances of succeeding; the success rate to date is extremely low. This is reflected in not only the number of unfinished adaptation logs which can be found on reddit, youtube and numerous blogs but also in the success rate of attempts started and logged in the polyphasic discord which remains to be 0%.
The difficulty is further increased by the inflexibility of the sleeping slots. For one, it is extremely challenging to skip a nap:
“It’s very noticeable, especially if I miss a nap—within an hour of naptime, I’ll feel like a monophaser who got shorted by several hours the previous night. (On Uberman, missing a nap made me miserable for most of a day; I’d feel sleep-deprived within half an hour, and it would sometimes take several regular naps to catch up.) You go from zero to sleep deprivation very quickly on a polyphasic schedule, because you’re squeezing more rest out of less sleep.”
(Ubersleep page 57, second ed.)
– Ji: “Flexing naps instead is likewise vey limited. Puredoxyk was only able to move naps by about 5 minutes forward and backward even after adaptation. “Because Everyman has a core sleep and, after adapting, its naps are fairly flexible. Uberman, on the other hand, is extremely strict. A nap at 8.30 will always be at 8.30, maaaaaaybe at 8.35.”
– Puredoxyk: “++ those were really good answers for William, the group thanks you!”
(excerpt conversation from Ubersleep Slack, posted 24.7.2018, accessed 27.10.2018)
Puredoxyk also reported feeling sleep deprived for the next few waking blocks after just one altered nap. (Ubersleep, p. 57) This, combined with the wake blocks being only 3h40m each, makes Uberman not sustainable for most people as it is very hard to schedule all daily tasks and events around it. Two people who spent extensive period of time on the schedule, Aeia (YouTube) and DontPanic (Discord), also reported insidious fat gain and physical deterioration.
“The Uberman schedule really isn’t sustainable long term. Mentally, it is very resting, but it becomes physically exhausting. The naps become very deep and very hard to wake from, at times worryingly so. [….] But like, working out was hard and I got no gains.”
(excerpt of DontPanic from Polyphasic Sleeping Discord, posted 17.2.2017, accessed 19.11.2018)
Since REM and SWS cannot be cut below certain levels without ill effects, all the person’s requirements must be accounted for by naps. This is problematic because most humans require at least ~90 minutes of SWS and REM each while Uberman only totals 2 hours. It is very likely that only a very small percentage of people can reduce their SWS and REM sufficiently to be able to sustain Uberman. The extremely low total sleep time leads to intense sleep cycle compression and repartitioning, possibly reducing the cycle lengths to under 60 minutes (this is as of yet unconfirmed). After adapting, falling asleep becomes almost instant and the transition to REM or SWS would also be almost immediate, giving merely minutes of light sleep. This would allow up to about 1h50m of REM and SWS combined.
Living on this schedule requires constant maintenance of a delicate balance between REM and SWS pressures. Throughout each waking block REM and SWS pressures build up gradually to very high levels and drop to more withstandable levels during the course of a nap, which would primarily contain the sleep type with higher pressure (either due to homeostatic pressure or circadian rhythm or both). Then, this typically reverses the ratio between REM and SWS pressures, so that the other sleep type dominates the following nap. It is also common to experience mixed-stage naps, with both REM and SWS in the body’s effort to mitigate high sleep pressure.
So far, only a few people have managed to stay on this schedule for over a few months, due to aforementioned social and physiological difficulties. Because of this schedule’s strong reliance on high sleep pressure, any oversleep will greatly set back the adaptation. Just one extended oversleep is enough to completely reverse the adaptation, even after months following the schedule, as demonstrated by DontPanic’s inability to resume after his crash after 2 years reported on Uberman. Because of this, it is doubtful whether a truly complete adaptation is even possible.
It might also not be possible to do intense exercise on Uberman (particularly anaerobic) since doing so incurs additional SWS need1. It would also be nearly impossible to stay on this schedule when one is sick, since sickness also increases SWS and sleep needs2. Sleeping for long sessions for recovery would also negatively affect the adaptation.
As explained above, adapting to uberman is extremely difficult. While some people may claim that there is an easier method, that is not the case. Any methods of adapting to this schedule involve prolonged and intense sleep deprivation which is necessary to produce the level of sleep compression required.
Without previous napping experience, naps will mostly contain light sleep or traces of SWS. As the REM need is not being fulfilled, REM pressure quickly builds up to high levels, causing REM to start very early in the naps. This usually happens around day 3-5. This will appear to suddenly alleviate the sleep deprivation, making people prone to overconfidence about the adaptation. After this, naps mostly contain REM, and SWS pressure starts to build up. Initiation of SOSWS usually occurs on day 7-8 and it is the hardest part of the adaptation where most people oversleep and fail their schedules. After avoiding this first crash, subsequent crashes once every 2-3 days also need to be avoided. Oversleeping every 2-3 days can become common – the surprising recovery from each oversleep inspires overconfidence and continued failure. If all oversleeps are prevented, then the REM and SWS pressure gradually reach an equilibrium and the schedule is finally stabilized. This can take up to 6 weeks, without oversleeps.
It is important to realise that willpower alone is not enough for adapting to this schedule. With SWS deprivation, willpower is essential but is not enough on its own. People have reported unconsciously disabling or ignoring electronic devices and performing other actions necessary to go back to sleep, with no recall of doing so afterwards. People have slept through noise-based alarms, flashing lights, loud fans, and repeated maximum-voltage shocks from a Pavlok. It is therefore very useful, if not necessary, to have constant human supervision to make sure you are awake when you are supposed to be. Puredoxyk was woken up by Psuke and youtuber Aeia was woken up by her twin sister during their uberman adaptation. Pavlina was assisted by his wife. Without the help of other people, it is extremely unlikely that you would ever adapt to this schedule.
Routes to adaptation
Delaying the SOSWS
It is possible to delay the early SOSWS initiation by a few days by adding extra naps in the night for extra SWS gain during the first days of adaptation. Steve Pavlina used this method to delay his SWS naps until around day 12. It is not generally a good idea though, since the SOREM naps will eventually happen, and the oversleeps will drag out the adaptation process by several days. Overcoming the SWS-heavy naps is essential to Uberman adaptation.
Gradual adaptation via rhythmic preservation
Everyman 5 (E5), Dual core 4 (DC4)
These are possible transition schedules to Uberman with sleeps scheduled to start at the same time as the goal Uberman schedule. It might train the bodily rhythms to align the waves of tiredness with Uberman naps. This could reduce the transition difficulty. Still, intense compression and repartitioning will be required at each transition, especially the final jump to Uberman. With two transitions, the adaptation is stretched out to several months and the overall difficulty is only slightly reduced. Overall, this may not be worth the extra time required.
Naptation/Staying awake before starting
This methods involves staying awake for 1-2 days to quickly increase sleep pressure and/or start with naps every 2 hours instead of 4 to quickly acquire the ability to gain REM during naps. More information about these adaptation methods can be found in the Adaptation page.
Uberman 7 (U7), Uberman 8 (U8)
Having one or two extra naps might make Uberman more sustainable for people since 2h is far below the minimum requirements of an average person, and consequently lower adaptation difficulty. However, this is even less realistic socially since 3h5m and 2h40m wake blocks are too short for many things in life. No one is known to have adapted to these alternative Uberman schedules.
Uberman with denser nighttime naps (U6-modified)
In this variation of Uberman more naps are placed during the night since sleep pressure is generally higher during nighttime and it would also be easier to schedule one’s life around longer daytime gaps. However, it is very difficult to stay awake for long periods of time on Uberman and this is likely even harder than regular Uberman. No one has been known to have adapted to this, either.
If you or someone you know has sustained a nap-only schedule for longer than 2 months or have some helpful tips from your own adaptation, please contact the admin team to help add to our knowledge! You can do so either by email ([email protected]), Discord or Reddit.
Main author: Zandimna