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Self assessment

From Polyphasic Sleep


Adaptation to polyphasic sleep schedules can require significant - if not monumental - motivation. PureDoxyk, the coiner of the term "Uberman", started it with a friend apparently on a dare; in her case, one might speculate that peer pressure, friendly rivalry, or both, were significant motivators.[1] Although gaining more free time is probably the most frequently given reason for an interest in polyphasic sleep, how that time will be spent probably matters more. In PureDoxyK's (somewhat unusual) case, the initial duo reportedly nucleated a group of seven more uberman practitioners (at its peak), and much of what PureDoxyK described as "blissful"[2] might have been the 24x7 social experience.

I did it for six blissful months without a problem, and about seven friends ended up doing it with me by the middle. (*heh* We used to crash all at once in the Library. People called us the 'Sleeping Herd'.)

Business success was a motivator for the most famous (non-anonymous) polyphasic practitioner to date, Steve Pavlina, who said,

"[M]onths after starting my personal development business, I made the attempt to become an early riser again. [....] [T]he main difference was that my motivation to get up early was now much higher. And that extra motivation boost was just what I needed to get past the hump and establish the habit once and for all. [....] Interestingly, I not only mastered the habit of early rising, but later that same year, I blew that accomplishment out of the water by adapting to polyphasic sleep."[3]
Pavlina, who adapted to Uberman, mentioned elsewhere that he was so excited about his business prospects, he just couldn't stay in bed.

If business success can be a significant motivator for gaining the extra hours in a day that polyphasic makes available, fear of failure might be the other side of the same coin. Kirk Kahn reports that someone he knew who was living in Australia

"... maintained uberman for quite some time while he traded the US stock markets throughout the night. He said that the excitement, risk, and fear of losing his money in the market was a primary motivator for him to get up. Another woman here in New York City ... maintained the sleep schedule for a very long time, and she traded currencies." [4]
Motivation to adapt can be very high. But will you also be motivated to continue? Perhaps some people muster the high motivation required to adapt to polyphasic schedules mostly for the challenge of achieving something many would consider superhuman. Some of them give up on the schedule because they don't have much to do with the extra time. Tynan, explaining why he ended his experiment, said,
"I don't really need the extra time right now. I thought I would make good use of it, but I honestly don't. If I was super busy, then I would be more motivated to stay on polyphasic sleep." [5]

The problem of maintaining motivation to stay on a polyphasic sleep schedule is hardly new. Claudio Stampi said that the Italian actor Giancarlo Sbragia tried a 6-naps-every-4-hours schedule back in the 1950s (?), but quit after six months, because he didn't know what to do with all the time freed up, among other reasons. [6] [7]


  1. "Who am I? I'm PureDoxyK", May 24, 2006, OfficialUberman.blogspot.com
  2. [http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=892542&lastnode_id=124 PureDoxyK, "Uberman's Sleep Schedule", Dec 29, 2000
  3. "What's Your Motivation Threshold?", Steve Pavlina, Feb 21, 2006, StevePavlina.com
  4. Google Polyphasic Sleep Group, 31 Jan 2008 posting to thread "It's not in the sleep, it's in the falling asleep
  5. "Taking a break from polyphasic!", BetterThanYourBoyfriend.com (blog), Mar 25, 2006
  6. Google Group Search
  7. http://polyphasicsleepcycle.blogspot.com/2005/10/claudio-stampi-why-we-nap.html