Most recent update, 2010:
Everyman, along with other types of polyphasic sleep, has accumulated quite a body of information since this article was written. I myself have been on the Everyman 3 schedule for over four years now. Updated details, instructions, and even a book discussing polyphasic sleep adaptation can all be found at http://www.puredoxyk.com.
Everyman is another type of polyphasic sleep schedule that grew out of the experiments I first wrote about in 2000 under Uberman's Sleep Schedule. As of this writing -- January 2007 -- I have been living on the Everyman Sleep Schedule for approximately six months.
How the Everyman Schedule was born
The "Uberman" schedule, which was the first polyphasic schedule I experimented with, is very cool, but also really hard to adjust to. A very small percentage of the people who try it make it through the first week, and not even half of those go on to succeed for a month, which is the time required by the mind and body to really adjust. Not that you can blame them: Not only is the sleep deprivation utterly crushing for the first couple days of Uberman-adjustment, but maintaining the schedule requires the kind of anal-retentivity that you usually only see in damaged people (like Lex Luthor or Dr. Doom). Naps must be taken every four hours on the dot; small deviations become possible only after at least a solid month of perfect or darn-near-perfect adherence to the schedule. So even assuming the subject is crazy enough to adjust to the schedule and iron-willed enough to stay on it, for many people it simply isn't possible. Lifestyle can really throw a monkey-wrench in the process, no matter how dedicated the sleeper wants to be: No amount of iron will can compensate for a hectic work-schedule, or kids, etc.
Right about the time I was experimenting to determine the validity of the above sentence, people began howling at me about how unfair it was that only hermits and supervillians could ever have both the character and the kind of life-schedule that accomodated the Uberman schedule. After finding out myself, the really hard way, that no amount of sheer guts could maintain the Uberman schedule in the face of work/kids/etc., I realized that I shared their pain: I deeply missed my polyphasic schedule, but it seemed that now that I was a "grown-up", I couldn't have it back! Crushing.
Then someone--I don't remember who was first--suggested that maybe another type of schedule would work. Perhaps Uberman could be modified to make it more flexible.
The "Core Nap"
that makes Everyman what it is is the addition of a "core nap" -- a longer nap that occurs regularly somewhere in the 24-hour cycle. The core nap is much less sleep than a monophasic person gets at night -- usually no more than 3 hours, though I've heard of 4 and 5 being used for short periods -- and is supplemented by a corresponding number
of 20-minute naps throughout the day.
Please note that not every combination of naps and core-nap seems viable. Of the ones that have been tested, the most successful combinations seem to be 3 hours core + 3 naps (the one I'm using), and 1.5 hour core + 4-5 naps. While this seems to suggest a pattern, anything shorter than a 1.5-hour core might as well be just another 20-minute nap (and you'd be doing Uberman); and more than 3 hours' core might as well be siesta-sleep, which involves a short night's sleep and a single afternoon nap. So for now and until somebody proves otherwise, those two schedules above are what we generally mean by Everyman.
My experiments with the Everyman schedule, which have now been going on for nearly six months (as of Jan. 2007), showed an interesting effect: The longer the core nap, the more flexibility one gains in the nap-times. Obviously individual results vary a bit, but in my case, a 3-hour core nap (1-4 a.m.) means I can take three 20-minute naps throughout the day and feel great, plus my naptimes can be shifted by as much as an hour in either direction. So I can nap at 9, 2, and 9 (which is what I aim for), or 8, 1, and 9; or 9:30, 3, and 8:30...etc. This provides that crucial ability to work around meetings, sick kids, traffic jams, and all the "etcetera" that made sticking to Uberman so impossible.
Other differences from Uberman
The addition of the core naps causes some other differences from the Uberman schedule as well. Really, Everyman and Uberman are more than just two schedules; they're two different classes of polyphasic schedule, technically referred to as "equiphasic" (all naps equal) and "nonequiphasic" (duh). Whether you're using Uberman (or Dymaxion, another equiphasic, naps-only schedule named by Buckminster Fuller) or either/any variety of Everyman, the following differences remain fairly solid.
One major difference is the adjustment process. As you might expect, the sleep-deprivation involved in adjusting to an Everyman schedule is not as bad as it is for Uberman, though it can still be tricky for a day or two. Significantly, though, to fully adjust to Everyman takes quite a bit longer than it does to adjust to Uberman, so one can expect to be using alarms and carefully monitoring one's sleep for several months rather than a couple weeks. Uberman, being more severe and more extreme, becomes habit a lot quicker once you get the hang of it; and you get the hang of it faster, because it's more "do or die" for your body. Everyman doesn't cause the kind of sleep dep that forces a full adjustment in a matter of days, so it's something you have to get more gradually used to. Having done both, I can honestly say that it's a pretty even toss-up, being horrifically sleep-deprived for a week and vigilant for another week or two, versus being quite sleep-deprived for a few days and vigilant for at least a month. They're both pretty annoying...but I would also say they're both completely worth it. (Of course I would!)
Another big difference is the psychological impact. Uberman's is very profound. You've eradicated "sleeping at night" completely. After a while you'll lose track of the days completely if you don't take additional measures. Days will stretch reeeeealllly long, which can be very cool or quite intolerable, depending on your lifestyle. With Everyman, however, you're still getting a chunk of sleep with which to divide the days in your mind, so you probably won't lose track (or not very often, anyway). The days seem long on Everyman (long enough to get dangerously bored if you don't really need / use the extra time), but not endless (like they can/do on Uberman).
In both cases, you'll get used to living outside the normal schedule after a couple months, but even once you're used to it, it can feel a little eerie--like being a vampire. There can be social effects accompanying both schedules, that range from a mild reputation for weirdness to full-on rewrite of your social life, depending on what it was like before. As with the psychological effects, the social changes are usually more profound with Uberman than Everyman. (For my part, being both a late-nighter and an early-riser has made me a bit of a conversation piece at work and on a few social occasions, but it's not much of a big deal, since it's not unheard of for some people to only need three hours' sleep, period. Now, when I "never slept", I often felt like a circus freak and sometimes went to great lengths to hide it.)
Also, myself and every other successful adopter of Uberman I've read or spoken to has reported impressive effects on consciousness -- increased awareness / energy, sharpened senses, a feeling that the whole world is moving in slow motion and you're not, so you have all the time in the world for everything, even small things like catching a ball. My friend and I, when we first did the experiment, couldn't get over how awesome this was, and while the effect was less noticeable after 3 or 4 months, it was there right up until I quit. On Everyman, you get something of the same effect, but much less so. The feeling of being superhuman that caused us to name the Uberman schedule what we did is more muted and practical on Everyman -- you're gaining about four hours onto your day, but you don't feel as though you've "beaten sleep" or transcended it. The altered-consciousness part is pretty much invisible; I've felt a flicker of it here and there, but nothing like before.
They're the same in a few ways, too -- the ways that characterize polyphasic sleep, as I know it.
- Both require strict dedication in the beginning to adjust to.
- Both require that you don't mind people thinking you're a weirdo!
- Both will cause a shift in your psyhological perception of time, which is probably more inherent to your mental state than you'll realize before you go messing with it. ;)
- Both are also apparently safe, physically speaking -- Other people have seen doctors while doing Uberman/Dymaxion schedules, and I've had regular checkups while doing Everyman, and we're all fine.
- Both types of schedule will NOT result in being "tired all the time" once you're fully adjusted, though as I mentioned, full adjustment takes longer with Everyman -- for a while you'll still get yawny at night, but it's only aggravating for the first 2-3 weeks in my experience.
- Oh, and both schedules can be lifesavers for people who just don't have enough hours in the day!
The Normative Analysis
Having done each schedule for about six months now, I would have to call them a tie. They both have benefits, and both have detriments
against each other (the purpose of this writeup isn't really to judge polyphasic vs. monophasic schedules
, so I'll comment on that later).
Probably the biggest benefit of Everyman is its accessibility. Out of the people who want to sleep polyphasically, only about 2% of them seem to be suited for the Uberman schedule, in lifestyle and disposition. Probably about another 25-30% seem to be compatible with the Everyman schedule, and I've seen quite a few people besides myself benefit from it. (For my part, I don't know how I'd live without it. My hectic schedule would leave me no room to relax or pursue my hobbies without the extra time Everyman gives me, and I'd probably go insane.)
I'll end this writeup on polyphasic sleep the same way I always end things I write about this topic: With the plea that polyphasic sleeping desperately needs more attention from scientists, who can conduct long-term and controlled research studies. I and others have provided enough testimonial evidence, I think, to show that the projects would be worthwhile. (I also have issued an open invitation for people who'd like to use me or my data in experimental research, and I'm not alone in that either.) I hope to have my book on the subject done by the end of this summer, with all the details I can muster about the hows, whys, and wherefores of polyphasic sleeping, all wrapped up in an enticing package of pay-attention-to-me that hopefully will drive scientific interest by better informing the public.