I'm updating this post, because it's the most-viewed polyphasic sleep post on this site, so it deserves to have the best possible information. As of this update, I've been on Everyman as my regular, most-of-the-time sleeping schedule for the last seven years. Updates are in italics, and thanks for reading!
Okay, the 6-month goodness has arrived. *Yaaaaaay!*
I'm going to tackle this in three parts: Comparing Everyman sleep schedules with monophasic sleep, comparing Everyman with Uberman, and discussing how Everyman reacts to special circumstances.
Everyman vs. Monophasic
I'd say "this one's a lay-down", but then I'd have to watch my back for Pun Assassins for a while, and I hate doing that. So I'll just say that wow, did the Everyman schedule improve my previously-monophasic life.
The obvious benefit is that I only have to sleep a maximum of 4 hours per day now. That's half of what I got before, and less than half of what I needed, since on a monophasic schedule it takes nine hours' sleep for me to be rested. Like most working people, I rarely got more than 7-8 hours' sleep, meaning I was usually tired, and would often make horribly dramatic lamentations in the middle of the day about how I would kill somebody for a nap. I can't even begin to describe how nice it is to have that gone.
Also, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I have a history of chiropractic problems. Not terrible ones, but enough that, after a "normal" night's sleep, my neck is all kinky and grindy and nasty, like some unholy Clive Barker corridor of agony connecting my throbbing head and my pissed-off body. What I mean to say is, mornings can suck when you have computer-neck. ;) However, no amount of 3-hour cores and 20-minute naps has ever hurt my neck, except occasionally when I screwed up and slept wrong in my car. It's been a long time since that happened, though.
When I wrote about the transition from monophasic to Uberman, I also talked about how I'd had a bunch of sleep-disorders that were cured by polyphasic sleeping. This was utterly true, and very amazing, and I stand by it, though this time I didn't have any real (i.e. diagnoseable) sleeping-problems when I started.
There have been peripheral benefits to Everyman as well. They include:
– Being a night owl and an early-riser, both of which I enjoy;
– Having time for hobbies and fun things that I wouldn't otherwise have;
– Similar to the above, being able to play with my daughter in the evenings, rather than worrying about doing my schoolwork or something else;
– Having some time alone, in a very cramped apartment when I wouldn't otherwise be able to be by myself;
– Getting breaks during my work-day to chill, and to break up the day so it doesn't seem crushingly long. (Similar benefit as "smoke breaks", but without the smoke, and friendlier to the workday since I know roughly when, and exactly how many and for how long, I should take them.) I work an extra hour to make up for this time, and nobody (nobody in power, anyway) complains.
Life has changed a lot in seven years, but those benefits are still true. I no longer have neck problems thanks to my internal martial arts practice, though. \o/
Everyman vs. Uberman
I don't think I can call one better than the other. I really enjoyed the Uberman sleep schedule when I had it, and I really enjoy Everyman now that I have it. I did attempt to adopt the Uberman schedule first, when I did this experiment — I spent ten days trying to adjust and failing, always because something work/kid/life-related would get in the way of a nap somehow. As many people know, this is devastating when adapting to Uberman — the adaptation phase needs at least 2 weeks of perfect or near-perfect adherence to the schedule so that it can "stick". Without that time, your brain won't adjust, and you'll be zombie-tired pretty much continuously, which is what I experienced.
(FYI, the "six months" counter is based on the first day I did the Everyman schedule; it excludes the preceeding almost-two-weeks that I was trying to adjust to an Uberman schedule.)
The biggest difference between a nap-only (equiphasic) and a core-nap (non-equiphasic) schedule, between Uberman and Everyman, is flexibility. Uberman is minimally flexible. It's not flexible at all for the first month; any variations in the schedule during that time are setbacks, and are going to extend the adaptation period. Sucky but true. And even after adaptation, your naps are pretty set in stone. You can move them, gradually, like Steve Pavlina did, to space them a little closer at night and/or a little farther during the day, but this is less than ideal in terms of feeling rested and having an easy time keeping your schedule. Similarly, if you have to miss a nap, or move one more than a few minutes, you're looking at at least 24 hours before you recover completely. (In my Uberman days, I remarked that missing a nap made me about as tired, for about as long, as missing an entire night's sleep did on a monophasic schedule.)
Everyman is much, much more forgiving. The core nap reduces the number of daytime naps you need, in proportion to its length, at a rate of about 1 nap per 1 hour's core nap. (i.e. I take a 3-hour core, and I need 3 naps during the day, as opposed to 6 naps when taking no core. A 1.5 hour core requires 4-5 naps, depending on the person, and a 4-hour core requires 2 naps from me, though other people have told me they can do it with one.) Also, on Everyman, naps can be taken anywhere within an hour before or after the intended time with no apparent negative effects, compared to a half-hour or less of leeway with Uberman.
Note that Uberman gives you a total of 2 hours' sleep in a 24-hour period, and all the permutations of Everyman which are known to work give about 4 hours' sleep. The reason for the difference is simply that napping is a more efficient way to sleep. (I can't back that scientifically, but I can sure as heck back it experientially, and there's plenty more sources of corroborating data besides me.) The 20-minute nap seems to be the most efficient length of time for a person to sleep — there have been many attempts to use longer or shorter naps in a polyphasic schedule, but to my knowledge, 15 minutes is the minimum useful time and 30 minutes is the max, though few people have succeeded with actually sleeping 30 minutes — that schedule seems to work far better when it's actually 25 minutes or less of sleep. Naps of longer than 30 minutes behave like cores — i.e. they are restful and have psychological value, but are no longer as efficient as naps.
I've run into quite a few people who successfully used 30 minute naps, now; though several of them have reported back that my advice to try a shorter nap was helpful, too. Furthermore, it's inaccurate when I say that "all the permutations of Everyman which are known to work give about 4 hours' sleep" — plenty of people are biphasic, getting 5-6 hours per night. Duh. ;)
Another major difference between the two is that Everyman's adjustment period is quite a bit easier than Uberman's, lacking the couple days of extreme sleep-deprivation that make it difficult for many people to get through. In compensation, though, Everyman's adjustment period is longer, and trickier, since it takes more attention and modification to get the sleep-times and durations just right. It took me a good month to get the hang of when I should put my core and naps to get the best results, and during that whole time I was sleep-deprived, though no more so than I would have been after getting, say, 6 hours' sleep on a monophasic schedule. It's possible that one might pick an Everyman schedule, say, 3 hours' sleep at 1 a.m. and three naps at 9, 2, and 9 (that's my schedule currently), and simply have it work "out of the box", but that's very rare. Usually there are periods of tiredness at first with Everyman, and adjustments are required to make the schedule fit your individual — what's the word? — idiom. ;) …By contrast, Uberman usually does work "out of the box", as long as "the box" is six 15-25 minute naps, spaced at regular (preferably equal, four-hour) intervals throughout a day. Once the (in Uberman's case, very difficult) adjustment period is over, the schedule becomes easy, and tiredness is generally eliminated entirely.
Other differences between Everyman and Uberman include:
– The sense of time-dilation, and the tendency to lose track of days, is more pronounced with Uberman;
– The "altered consciousness" effect or feeling of moving very quickly compared to the rest of the world is also more pronounced with Uberman;
– The tendency to experience physical changes, such as increased or decreased appetite, is more pronounced with Uberman;
– Re-adapting to Everyman after a forced change in schedule appears to be easier than doing so with Uberman.
I've since discovered that if I only take two naps, I really prefer a four-and-a-half-hour core nap. However, on 3 naps, my ideal core nap is also 3.25h, so it's quite possible that these variations are artifacts of my individuality.
Other Notes and Special Circumstances
This is just a place for additional things I've learned about Everyman that might be useful to people.
Being sick: Any sickness will usually require a hiatus from polyphasic sleeping. When sick, the body needs long periods of rest / immobility; this gives the immune system the time and energy it needs to function at full capacity. By all accounts, being sick on Uberman means basically starting over, especially if it throws off your schedule for more than a day. I've now been sick on Everyman twice (once is right now, actually), both times with colds, and being well-versed in health matters, I didn't even try to sleep any less than my body wanted. This usually results in one or more long sleeps — Last night I crashed out for seven hours. However, Everyman is relatively easy to pick back up, especially if care is taken to keep taking the short naps on schedule (anyway, frequent short naps are also probably good for you, if you're sick).
Also thanks to martial arts, and some other changes I talk about here, I haven't been sick at all, not even with a cold, for the last two years. It's worth adding that one of the ways I avoid sickness is to deliberately sleep a ton as soon as I notice any symptoms, such as a sore throat or low-grade fever. Most of the time, I will sleep a solid 6-8 hours right then, and sometimes take a core-length nap again a bit later; and once or twice, I slept that hard again on a second day. Sleep, it seems, works not just to cure illness, but if you wield it right, also to prevent sickness!
Missing naps: Bar none the best thing to do if a nap is missed, on either type of polyphasic schedule, whether you're adjusted yet or not, is to keep going as though nothing happened. You will be a bit tired for a while, but after one or two regular naps, you'll feel better. Trying to compensate for missed naps is a surefire way to knock yourself even more off-track.
Sleep deprivation: I'm working on putting the best possible info on sleep dep that I can into the book I'm writing on polyphasic sleep. However, I thought it was important to point out these few things now, for people who may be considering adopting Everyman or Uberman: Sleep dep by itself will not kill you or cause permanent damage. Make sure you're getting enough water. Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery while sleep-deprived, even if you think you can. Stay away from alcohol and other drugs, especially while trying to adapt to a sleep schedule; they'll only impair your progress. If you stick like glue to your schedule, the sleep deprivation will not last more than a week. If you make mistakes, it will. So hate it all you want (I'll be the first to say it's not pleasant), but use your dislike of it to fuel your conviction to stick to the schedule so it's over quicker.
Fortunately, I DID say a lot more about this in the book. ;)
…And that's it, I suppose.
I should sum up by saying that after six months, I'm quite pleased with Everyman as a polyphasic schedule. It's not as cool or as fun as Uberman in my opinion, but it has some degree of the major benefits and it fits in with my lifestyle, which I don't have the option of changing for a while (say, another thirteen years or so… ;). While Uberman is awesome for people who can rewrite their lifestyles around their desired sleep schedule, Everyman is definitely a promising solution for the rest of us who aren't satisfied with monophasic sleep. Yay!
And after seven years, I'm STILL quite pleased with Everyman. I've learned a ton more about it, and had the opportunity to have many enlightening conversations about it with other people; and to sum it up, I'd have to say that I think it's one of the better things I've ever discovered, and it's made my life better in many ways that I'm very grateful for. <3 for the naps!