Conversations With Game Changers

Interview: How Thibault Vincent sleeps two hours a day with polyphasic sleep

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Sleep two hours a day with polyphasic sleep

You can listen to this podcast with my guest Thibault Vincent about polyphasic sleep live by clicking on the Play button at the top, download the MP3 by clicking on Download, or retrieve it from iTunes directly.

Text transcript of the interview:

Olivier: Hello and welcome to this new interview of the blog “books for a change of life”. I am currently with Thibault Vincent. Hello Thibault.

Thibault Vincent: Hello and good morning to all the readers of the blog! I wanted to say that I’m very happy to be here, in between a review of Dale Carnegie‘s book or Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book. It’s my pleasure. I feel like I’m important!

Olivier: I wanted to interview you today because I’ve followed the project you’ve embarked on very closely: one month of Uberman polyphasic sleep. I think that most of you have no idea what polyphasic sleep is, or what Uberman polyphasic sleep is. We will talk about that in a moment. Before that, can you quickly introduce yourself to our readers?

Thibault Vincent: So my name is Thibault. I am 20 years old. I am an entrepreneur. I work in the field of Web Marketing. I felt the need to try polyphasic sleep which I have now practiced since February 2009. To begin with, it was more to improve my day and the way I managed it. But – we’ll talk about it later, I’m sure – Uberman Multi-Phase Sleep is more about optics: a reduction in the amount of sleep you get in order to have ‘more time to work’.

Olivier: Can you explain what polyphasic sleep is?

Thibault Vincent: In fact, polyphasic sleep is a way to reorganise one’s sleep time into naps and periods that are scattered throughout a 24-hour cycle of a normal day.

In other words, rather than sleep over a typical eight- or nine-hour period, your sleep time will be divided throughout the day into naps: either naps of equal length throughout the day, or a main nap and then interim naps throughout the day.

The aim is to reduce the amount of time you spend asleep. The question we can ask ourselves and, perhaps, the one you would like to ask me – forgive me if I also ask the questions – is how to do this so that you aren’t always exhausted. If you divide up your sleep time so that you can shorten it, that will be helpful.

In fact, it is this division that will help to avoid overwork or over-fatigue that you might encounter when you simply sleep for four straight hours in a normal night. At the end of the day, as a general rule, we are tired. If you sleep for four hours with the use of the polyphasic sleep mode, things change a little bit.

Olivier: My guess is that you are neither a doctor nor a specialist in how the brain functions when asleep. But as a practitioner, what is your comprehension of the mechanism of polyphasic sleep?

Thibault Vincent: Correct, I am not a doctor. And your question reminds me of something I would like to make absolutely clear: I am most definitely not a doctor. I’m not here to promote polyphasic sleep either. Actually, it’s just an experiment that I decided to carry out.

There are still many aspects that are unknown, especially in terms of health and the long-term effects. I don’t want to come across as an evangelist for polyphasic sleep. I simple share my experiences and feelings, but there is no scientific background behind what I do. I want to make that very clear because I don’t wish to pretend that it’s anything else.

To answer your question, it’s simply to put the principle of naps and sleep time optimization into practice. I think everyone has experienced it: for example, when you take a 20-30 minute afternoon nap after lunch, you will feel much fresher and more awake afterwards.

Often you will even be able to get extra sleep and fall asleep later the next night. In fact, polyphasic sleep generally uses this concept of naps and the optimisation of sleep time to reach a state of deep sleep faster, which is really the main recovery stage when you are in a sleep cycle.

Olivier: The idea is to reduce the amount of sleep so as to have only the phases of recovery and to shorten the phases of sleep which are regarded as less important and don’t really achieve physical and mental recuperation.

Thibault Vincent: That’s exactly right! However, there still remain many unanswered questions about sleep amongst doctors and scientists. The first phases are, as a rule, less effective for a profound and intense recovery. Perhaps they serve another purpose. This also continues to be one of the questions and problems related to polyphasic sleep.

Olivier: We’ll come back to that. However, for now there is no way to determine the long-term effects of polyphasic sleep on those who practice it.

Thibault Vincent: Correct!

Olivier: On the other hand, there is evidence that it works well in the short term. There are many reliable people who have tried it on themselves and have had positive results… you’re one of them! That’s what we will talk about today! So you mentioned that there are two different forms of polyphasic sleep that are possible. Can you tell us more about the practical differences between them?

different forms of polyphasic sleep

Thibault Vincent: There are a few more than just two types. Let’s say there are two main types. The first type is the Everyman routine. It’s a routine that I’ve practiced since February 2009, until about three weeks ago when I got into the Uberman routine.

In fact, the Everyman routine is one in which you will have a main nap that will last around three hours. Why three hours? Because three hours is the average length of two full sleep cycles. In my case, it wasn’t exactly three hours. It was 3 hours 20 minutes; my sleep cycle lasts 1 hour 40 minutes.

Incidentally, this is something quite important to take note of and to work out correctly. It is critical to know the length of your cycle so that you can really optimise the length of your main nap and wake up as fresh as a daisy at the end of your main sleep.

How to reduce the amount of time that you sleep

Olivier: How did you find out the exact length of your cycle?

Thibault Vincent: There are various ways. I will discuss the technique I used. All I did was to get a few full nights of sleep to try and work out the timings as precisely as possible. You need to take a few full nights of sleep as soon as you feel the first signs of fatigue.

You don’t use an alarm of any kind. You check the time you go to bed, the time you fall asleep, and the time you wake up. You take this time and divide it by either four, five, six or between five and six, as we have between five and six sleep cycles in a typical night.

You should achieve between 1 and 2 hours, generally about 1 1/2 hours is the average duration. Be as precise as possible. Do this over a few nights.

The second thing I’ve done is simple experimentation. When I started with polyphasic sleep with the use of Everyman, I experimented with a few main sleep patterns to the nearest 5 – 10 minutes.

At first, I was on a 3:05 – 3:10 hour schedule. I finally realized that 3:20 is the time it took me to wake up. I didn’t feel like I woke up in the middle of a cycle, as if I was woken in a dream, for example. I felt great, as if I had reached the end of my required time cycle.

Olivier: This is how you figured out the length of your sleep cycle. You explained to us that the Everyman routine involves two sleep cycles at night and then you try to take naps throughout the day?

Thibault Vincent: Yes, that’s it. Afterwards, with the Everyman routine, there are two possibilities to get these naps in the day. The first is to take 3 naps of 20 minutes spaced out over the course of the day with fairly regular intervals; or 2 naps of 30 minutes – which is what I did – equally spaced out over the day as it was more practical. In my case, it was only two extra naps, rather than three, because three naps started to feel like too many.

Olivier: With the Everyman routine, you sleep an average of 4 hours a day…

Thibault Vincent: I slept 4h20 because I had a main nap of 3h20 and 2 naps of 30 minutes in the day.

Olivier: Obviously, the principle is that these four hours are enough for you to be refreshed and ready to go for the whole day, as if you slept normally.

Thibault Vincent: Precisely! You have to know that there is an adjustment period in which the body adapts to this pattern of sleep. It’s a bit tricky: you’re actually more tired, you have less clarity with your thoughts. But once the adjustment period is over, you feel good, you adapt, you are actually refreshed and revived. This was one of the necessary characteristics that I picked up upon at the outset, in order to continue with polyphasic sleep…

Olivier: You first tried it at the start of 2009. Is that right?

Thibault Vincent: Yes, February 2009.

Olivier: In February 2009 with the Everyman routine which is easier to achieve than the Uberman routine, which we will talk about shortly. Before you began with polyphasic sleep, how long did you sleep for?

Thibault Vincent: I slept for about nine hours…

Olivier: Nine hours? Wow! You’ve given yourself another five hours a day to do whatever you want!

Thibault Vincent: Yeah! In fact, that was actually the idea when I started. I really wanted to organise my day better, because at that time – we’ll just talk about me for a few minutes – I used to go out a lot and I would get up quite late in the day after eight or nine hours of sleep. Often I was still a little bit groggy. I wanted to use polyphasic sleep so that I could enjoy mornings, to remember what a morning was like!

Olivier: Can you now tell us about the Uberman routine that you started with about a month ago?

Thibault Vincent: The Uberman routine is a little bit different. There aren’t long sleeps with full cycles anymore, but naps of 20 minutes. The simple principle is that you sleep 2 hours a day with 6 naps of 20 minutes every 4 hours. Eventually, exactly 3h40 from the last nap, you take a 20 minute nap within that 4 hour period. So, effectively, you sleep 2 hours a day with 6 naps of 20 minutes each.

Olivier: Two hours? Wow! That really is rationed sleep at its most intense!

Thibault Vincent: Yes, that’ s true, it’s pretty limited at this point in time!

The different sleep rhythms, from monophasic to polyphasic Uberman (Wikipedia image, click to enlarge)

Olivier: Please correct me if I’m wrong, it’s not even a month but just 15 days since you started?

Thibault Vincent: It will be three weeks tonight.

Olivier: This is really a much more complex routine to implement. Can you tell us where you are at, right now? You’ve practiced this routine for three weeks now. How do you feel? Do you feel fit? Is everything alright? Is life good, in general?

Thibault Vincent: It has been three weeks now. I have to say that, yes, it’s fine… After the first 10 days of practice of the Uberman, I really started to feel in good shape, the kind of shape that you would expect. I have moments when I feel more energetic and others when I’m a little more exhausted, especially after a hard day’s work.

But for the most part I am in good shape. However, the first 10 days were a little trickier. I was in a phase of adjustment. At times, I had to fight to maintain the routine and the rhythm in order to get through the transition period.

Olivier: Can you give us a quick comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of the two main methods? Tell us about your experiences with both of these methods?

Thibault Vincent: The advantage of the Uberman is that it’s just simply incredible! You sleep two hours a day! Is there really any need to say more? Apart from just “two hours a day” if you sleep for two hours a day, you rediscover all that lost time, be it at night, in the morning… The way you approach things is so different.

You can work hard throughout the night, and yet you will still be the first person at the bakery, which opens at seven o’clock in the morning. In the end, I only slept for 20 minutes between the end of my night and when I began a new day. You feel free, genuinely liberated. You feel as if you live in a timeless place and it’s fantastic. It’s something that I really appreciate….

Olivier: That’s exactly it: you no longer live in a day/night cycle. Life is continuous for you, a life interspersed with 20-minute naps.

Thibault Vincent: These days I say that I sleep 20 minutes every 4 hours. I no longer sleep two hours a day. Every 4 hours I have a 20 minute sleep.

On the other hand, it must be said that there are some limitations. The first limitation is on a social level. I told myself that I would do my Uberman practice experience for a month… In the end, I might do it for a little more because I love it too much. But in a social context, I have disappeared. That’s something you have to bear in mind. It’s very difficult.

I have read the comments from some other participants, notably Americans and a little American girl who actually managed to integrate the Uberman routine into a normal social life, with a regular job and able to go out with her friends. I really take my hat off to her for that because it’s something I really would like to try to achieve…

Especially when you start, in the adjustment phase, I think it’s still very tricky to take a nap every 4 hours, given that you sleep better when you’re at home in your own bed or in comfortable surroundings where you feel at ease.

Also, when you occasionally miss a nap and you already haven’t had much sleep, it can become a bit tricky. So, socially, it’s tricky because it limits your ability to go out, the opportunity to live a normal life. After 3 hours and 40 minutes you have to stop, whatever it happens to be, and take a nap!

Olivier: If you’re out in the evening at a club with your friends, you have to leave in the middle of your night out to take a nap. You could return afterwards, but…

Thibault Vincent: Exactly! It’s quite tricky… For example…

Olivier: That you go off on travels in a camper van!

Thibault Vincent: Exactly! “It’s 10.30 pm, OK, listen friends, I’m off to bed. “I’ll be right back. “It’s 2.30 a.m. Well, listen friends, I’m off to bed!”

Olivier: The problem is that you are totally out of step with the rhythm of everyone else! If everyone could adopt this routine, it would definitely work better…

Thibault Vincent: Without a doubt, yes! It’s true that we’re completely out of step with that. I’m lucky enough to practice the Uberman routine along with my partner. Basically, this Uberman routine is really an experiment. I like to try out new things that are a little bit crazy.

Some people say to me: “No, you’re crazy, you’re completely nuts!” It’s also for work, to have loads of time, to actually get a non-stop month of work completed. I actually do it with my partner, who has also taken up the Uberman routine. However, he wasn’t in polyphasic sleep before. It’s tougher for him to adapt.

Olivier: You mentioned that if you miss a nap in the Uberman routine, basically, you’re screwed! You’re completely exhausted until the next nap…

Thibault Vincent: Not necessarily. You won’t be exhausted until your next nap, but you definitely feel it. At any rate, I can talk about what I experienced in my adjustment period.

A few days ago I missed a nap. I was fine. I felt my body start to feel tired at the scheduled time, but after that the next four hours were okay. I was fine until my next nap.

The next nap seemed to go well too. However, I had a major relapse afterwards. It took me until the middle of the night to feel it. I had a big relapse that I caught up with little by little, nap after nap over the morning. Basically I really felt like I needed a sleep.

Added to this is the fact that I am in a period of adjustment. I felt the same as I did when I missed naps whilst I adapted to Everyman, but afterwards, when I had worked out the required rhythm, it wasn’t so bad.

Olivier: The Everyman routine has the reputation to be more flexible. If you miss a nap, apparently, you feel it less than in the Uberman rhythm.

Thibault Vincent: That is the case.

Olivier: The advantages of the Everyman routine are that it is definitely easier to apply and is more suited to a social life.

Thibault Vincent: Absolutely! In fact, that was actually my original wish. I really didn’t want to become a “hermit”, as happened in that month when I hardly saw anyone. As I told you earlier, basically, I was really to be able to live a full and busy social life, so that I could go out until whatever time I wanted, still be able to work in the morning and just have a normal day.

In that respect, the Everyman routine not only offers those benefits, but also the added bonus to have a real night’s sleep. It is important to have these two sleep cycles which represent a real night. For many people who switch to the Uberman routine, the nights no longer exist, no more boundaries that distinguish: “OK, this is the start, this is the end of the day. That’s a new one”, it’s quite tricky to cope with, probably much more from a psychological level than a physical one.

Olivier: We are so accustomed to this separation of day and night…

Thibault Vincent: That’s it, we’re in the habit to tell ourselves: “OK, I’ve got through my day, it went well. I’ll do it again tomorrow.” With this, you think: “OK, I”ve done that 4-hour cycle, I’ll start another one.” The Everyman routine has that advantage over the Uberman one.

Olivier: The fascination to have a perspective of continuous time must be remarkable, to realise that the cyclical division is, above all, something physiological, something we are used to, but that time itself is not divided up like that. You need to have another perspective on this.

Thibault Vincent: It’s absolutely incredible! You feel much more in the present moment because you have far fewer points of reference. Sometimes, I wonder… Now, I know it’s Monday but it’s really more for practical and work-related aspects, to know roughly when I should contact people or when I can call friends…

Because it’s Monday, Sunday, Tuesday, 7am, 10pm… It doesn’t really matter or have much interest anymore. We have a really, really different notion of time. We are much more in the present moment. It’s quite wonderful. It’s really something beyond saving time. We simply have a different perception of time. You simply have a different perception of your life and your day.

Olivier: So, you practiced the Everyman routine from February 2009 until October 2010, at the outset of this challenge. That’s about a year and a half ago. Have you experienced anything long-term that you hadn’t foreseen? Basically, things that you would have preferred not to have happened?

Thibault Vincent: I would have to say no. At the start, in my adjustment period, my complexion was a little paler, dark circles were a little more pronounced. But not after the adjustment period. I don’t say this to promote the merits of polyphasic sleep.

I could also touch upon slightly more harmful effects, but when I tried the Everyman, I played sports quite regularly. I didn’t do massive amounts of sport; it wasn’t as if I spent 3 hours per day to train. On average I did 2 hours of sport every three days. My recovery time wasn’t an issue. I had no problems in terms of recovery.

However, the one thing you have to keep in mind is that there will still be days when things will be a little trickier. You can never rest on your laurels in polyphasic sleep. Of course, you can – and I used to – indulge in an occasional traditional night’s sleep.

But you can never say to yourself: “I’ve had a really difficult day… that’s it, tomorrow I won’t set an alarm” or not bother to wake up at the weekend, for example. No, you have to keep things consistent and you can never relax. You need to always keep a certain amount of discipline.

You always need to be highly motivated to be able to practice polyphasic sleep. Like I often say, with polyphasic sleep you always have to have something to do in the background to occupy those hours. If it’s simply to watch TV, just sleep! It will be of much more interest!

Olivier: We’re in agreement, there’s no point! Well, that’s great. Anyhow, whichever one you choose, you will give youself an extra five hours with the Everyman routine and seven hours with the Uberman. That’s almost a day more every day in the Uberman routine. It’s incredible! You live twice as long with the same life expectancy!

Thibault Vincent: We don’t know that! However, for now, it is clear that I have twice as much, or at least a third, more time than before.

Olivier: It means that you have to use twice as much energy as in a normal day. Do you eat more than before?

Thibault Vincent: Yes, for sure! I eat more. I have an extra meal, which is not necessarily a proper meal. I don’t sit down. It’s an extra meal at night. I also tend to snack on some fruit from time to time. On the other hand, I really try to keep the meal times fairly regular.

I maintain a fairly balanced, quite light diet. I eat relatively little meat, relatively little fats, which weigh down the digestive system and, as we know, takes up a lot of energy and causes you to want to sleep. This often results in a 3 or 4 hour nap in the afternoon after a big family meal.

After a small digestif people are accustomed to a short nap as it helps them to digest their food more easily. If I had roast pork and a duck breast at every meal, I think the Uberman routine would be a little harder to follow.

Olivier: I’m certainly no doctor and neither am I a specialist on this subject, but I have read a few books on health. I think that scientific studies may suggest that the practice of polyphasic sleep can reduce life expectancy. The only proven way today to increase the life expectancy of a mammal is to restrict its caloric intake.

Basically, this requires them to eat less than normal but, at the same time, to ensure that they have the minimum intake of vitamins and minerals. If, for example, rats are fed 2/3 of what they would normally eat, this increases their life expectancy by an average of 1/3.

There are numerous interpretations of this, but the scientific consensus nowadays is to say: “There is a limited amount of energy consumed in a lifetime. The more we eat, the more energy we consume, the more age mechanisms are set up. “It’s just a hypothesis that came to me: it’s possible that if you eat an extra meal, you may shorten your life expectancy”…

Thibault Vincent: That’s quite possible. The important thing to know is that when I say “extra meal”, I mean lighter things too. But yes, it’s certainly a possibility. I’d like to do a follow up experiment in the next Uberman month, one which is a little more scientifcally orientated, maybe with a doctor who can carry out a little more scientific and objective analysis.

In terms of calories, protein or other dietary intake, I’m not sure I’m over the time when I was a reluctant fan of ‘junk food’ and went to eat three or four times a week at McDonald’s. Other than that, I totally agree.

Olivier: It would certainly be of interest if you could be followed by a scientist. We know that sleep specialists work a lot on this. Is polyphasic sleep currently researched within the scientific community?

Thibault Vincent: A fair bit. In fact, I called and contacted sleep specialists in that specific area to get their opinion on the matter. It’s quite problematic: When I called the first one, they said: “Ooh la la la! Watch out. You will die! I called a second one who said: “Listen… I don’t really understand why you want to put yourself through this but if it goes well, in the end, what will you achieve from it?”.

He was one of the sleep experts who helps sailors prepare for their round the world voyages, who also use these principles of polyphasic sleep so that they need less sleep when at sea, to help them maintain and run their boats. It’s not straightforward as there is still a certain amount of subjectivity amongst those who are scientists and those who are physicians. Similar to when I visited my GP who had told me: “Oh la la! You’re completely nuts! Bad things will happen to you and all that!”

That’s possible. As I said, I am certainly not a scientific genius on the subject. The only other thing I would add is that, after that, I went to see other specialists who told me: “On the face of it, I don’t see any problems for now”. That was at the time of Everyman. For example, there were no noticeable changes in blood pressure, heart rate, etc… I don’t know about the Uberman period.

There has been some research into polyphasic rhythm in relation to practicalities for sailors. I know that there has been some research by a doctor called, I think, Claudio Scipi (Note from Olivier: it’s actually Claudio Stampi) or something like that. I apologise to him; I don’t recall his exact name.

I think it’s the only study that relates directly to polyphasic sleep. There are also specialists from NASA and the army who have attempted to study this. But as far as I know, there has been no real long-term scientific study of polyphase sleep.

Olivier: It’s a bit of a paradox because we see a lot of bloggers on the Internet who have experienced this and they talk about it on their blogs. In France, there is Boréale from the blog La Fabrique des Idées who has made quite a few videos where she describes her experience of polyphasic sleep.

We know that it works, even though it wasn’t made clear that you only required between 2-4 hours of sleep a day and that you could feel rested and ready to go. And this is not a study carried out by scientists. It is a phenomenon that exists and has been explored by people like you, who like to experiment with things. I find it a bit paradoxical. If there is a scientist listening to this interview, they are encouraged to get in touch with you!

Thibault Vincent: I would really love there to be a scientific study one day. Me too, I often talk about it with Boréale. We’re in total confusion! We have no idea what might happen. It would be a huge challenge to conduct a long-term study on polyphasic sleep in the future. It would take about 30 years to determine the impact of the results. You’d actually have to follow a group of people who have done this for long enough in order to analyse the long-term effects properly.

For now, unfortunately, it’s still a little complex, but I’d certainly love science to look at the issue objectively, without prejudice, and offer us – why not – a number of studies. In relation to other subjects, we often see a first study that will give a first A result and, finally, a second study that will give a completely contradictory result.

If the scientific community could take an interest in the subject, it would be a good thing, given that, when it comes to sleep itself, there are still many things that the scientific community does not necessarily understand. No offence meant to them. Quite simply, we may not be able to figure it all out. Polyphasic sleep may be only one of the stages after…

Olivier: I always find it of interest to study one aspect of a subject because sometimes it helps to better understand the other aspects. I think the message has been sent. If there is someone who is interested in the field and wishes to contact you, they are totally free to do so and, in fact, they are strongly encouraged to do so.

Earlier, you told us that in your Everyman period, you could play sports as usual and recover. Can you cope with all the usual activities you would do with normal sleep when you change to polyphasic sleep?

Thibault Vincent: With reference to the Everyman period or the Uberman period?

Olivier: Both.

Thibault Vincent: About a week ago, in the Uberman phase, I repeated a heavy sports session which took about two hours. I have to admit that after that I “over-slept”, which is to say I slept more than I expected after that session, about an hour and a half, which meant that I slept for about a full, classic sleep cycle. I felt really tired.

On reflection, was it because of Uberman or was it because I was in a period of adjustment? I don’t know. Unfortunately, the problem is that I probably won’t have the opportunity to try sport again, a regular sports activity, before the end of the adjustment period and my Uberman experience. On the other hand, I run for about 10 to 15 minutes every day and I continue to do that.

For now, nothing, not anymore, that doesn’t happen. Will it happen later whilst I’m in the process to adjust to the Everyman? I also didn’t partake of much sport as my body had to adapt to the changes. After that it was fine. Could it be the same for Uberman? I don’t know. Unfortunately, in reality, I will finish my trial, my few weeks of experimentation before that.

As for other activities, there’s nothing that is obvious to me. Yes, there is. There are certain things in the adjustment period that I would advise against: generally, the ones that are passive in nature. For example, to sit in front of the TV… On the other hand, as I mentioned before, if you practice polyphasic sleep and find yourself in front of your TV, maybe you need to ask yourself a few questions!

For instance, if you read when you feel signs of tiredness, it will make you feel even more tired and sleepy. When you are in a period of transition, it’s best not to read a book for too long. But let me reassure you of something. If you don’t read at all when you partake in polyphasic sleep, you’d start to become a bit of an idiot, a little stupid.

I have also had this experience with the Everyman adjustment period. There were no problems: I could also do things that were more passive, where you weren’t always active and focused, with no problems at all. I can’t recall any other problems with all the other aspects of life. In any case, there’s nothing that comes to mind.

Olivier: How long does the adjustment period in Everyman take?

Thibault Vincent: With Everyman, it took about 2 – 3 weeks to adjust. Then there is also a period in Everyman – in my case – where you’re still in a kind of trial period for a certain amount of time, if that makes sense. O.K. most of that phase is done with but you still have to stay focused on a regular routine.

You can allow yourself more small deviations than when in the adjustment period. In any case, you feel much better than you do whilst in the adjustment period, but you have to remain vigilant regardless. It takes two or three months to properly assimilate your body. Or at least it did in my case.

Olivier: Is there, or are there, a book or books on the subject?

Thibault Vincent: None at all. However, there is an e-book in English written by Puredoxyk, who is something of a great “priestess” of polyphasic sleep. She is one of the earliest bloggers to have talked about her experience. She has published an e-book on the subject in English which is a few years old now…

Olivier: And do you know the title?

Thibault Vincent: It must be “the Uberman Sleep” or something like that. In any case, it is available. You type “puredoxyk” on Google and you’ll find it (Note from Olivier: the exact title of the book is Ubersleep: Nap-Based Sleep Schedules and the Polyphasic Lifestyle). She is the only person to have written a “paper” reference about the subject, even though it’s not paper since it’s an e-book. Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing.

Olivier: Wow, that’s quite something! Does that mean that in order to get the information you needed for your experiment, you actually needed to read blogs? Today, the main source of information for your experiment is bloggers… But do we know who invented this technique? Where it actually comes from?

Thibault Vincent: Look, to be honest about it, it would be tough for me to tell you the story behind polyphasic sleep. What we know, what we think – whether it’s an urban legend or not – is that there are certain people, some of the great names in history such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Napoleon – although even if for him it was a bit tricky because he had more of a sleeping sickness…

The spiritual founder appears to have been someone like Leonardo da Vinci, even if it is not proven beyond doubt that he practised this routine all the time, or even for a short time. There is also an American innovator, whose name I have forgotten, who created the dymaxion routine. Rather than divide the day into 6, he divided it into 4, with naps of 30 minutes every 6 hours. This was around the 19th century. There are written records of what he did. Ah yes: Brian Fulminster! I remembered his name!

Olivier: Brian what?

Thibault Vincent: Brian Fulminster or Fulminister. Brian something like that. (Olivier’s note: it’s actually Buckminster Fuller) It’s available on the English Wikipedia notice on polyphasic sleep. Then, for bloggers, there is:

  • Puredoxyk which is a little “outdated” in relation to polyphasic sleep, although she herself is still quite young!
  • Steve Pavlina who pulled off quite a major media stunt. This well-known American personal development blogger tested it in 2005 with the Uberman formula, which he then recounted for 6 months on his blog (Note from Olivier: for the complete collection of Steve Pavlina’s articles on this subject, see this Lifehacker article).

So, this is pretty much all we know about polyphasic sleep. I have to admit that the subject doesn’t interest me too much. I was more interested in the actual experience itself.

Olivier: Okay, great. I think we’ve had a good overview of what polyphasic sleep is and how you can experience it for yourself. For readers who want to follow you whilst you try out the Uberman method, they can go to your Thibault Vincent blog where you regularly give your feedback, describe your experience, etc. You also have a second blog in which you talk more about the “work” aspect when you practice polyphasic sleep, don’t you?

Thibault Vincent: That’s correct! There is also the fact that this experiment, this Uberman experience, if you wish, dovetails beautifully with a busy work schedule, where, as opposed to what we can hear on your blog, it’s no longer the 4-hour week, it’s the 18-hour day! I talk about it on Lemon Fusion which is a blog more focused on the issues: productivity, how to stay motivated when you work 18 hours a day… All those things…

Olivier: So: Thibault Vincent and Lemon Fusion…

Thibault Vincent: That’s the one!

Olivier: Great! Thank you, Thibault. It was a pleasure to interview you. I really like adventurers who dare to push the boundaries, who know how to take risks and challenge prejudices. Please continue to share your discoveries with us. I hope that one or more scientists will get in touch with you… That would be of serious interest and we will follow it with much attention.

Thibault Vincent: Listen, thank you Olivier and also thank you to all of you who have listened to us!

Olivier: Thank you and see you soon for new adventures!

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