A good many of us sleep through the better part of a third of each day – but what if we didn’t need to? The NeurOn sleep mask is a Kickstarter project that has managed to pull in more than four times its $100,000 funding goal, by offering to train users to change their sleep routine from a monophasic (one sleep session per day) pattern, to a polyphasic (multiple short sleep sessions per day) pattern.
Some of history’s most prolific individuals have been polyphasic sleepers. While their contemporaries were soundly asleep, the likes of Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin were getting stuff done. So, for that matter, were Napoleon, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson. Polyphasic sleep is a real thing, a lot of people do it, and yes, you can feel awake and rested throughout the day from a series of well-planned naps. I know, because there have been times in my life where I have managed to get away with it – but it takes practice, and you need to be consistent – or you will find yourself spending much, of your now much-longer day, feeling like you didn’t get enough sleep – because you didn’t.
The issue is sleep quality, what matters most is the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. This accounts, for one-and-a-half to two hours of most people’s total nightly sleep. The idea of the NeurOn mask is to get people to the REM stage more quickly and to wake them up soon after it ends. Over the day, you catch power naps at regular intervals (also with the aid of the mask) to make up the balance – and you go from eight hours of sleep down to between two and four.
The NeurOn’s Kickstarter pitch explains how it works.
In theory, it sounds fantastic, an extra four to six hours per day is enough to get you writing that book you always planned on writing, to allow you to enjoy a bit of me time while still spending time with your family, etc. Is there a catch? For the most part, REM seems to be the most important part of our sleep cycle, but longer sleep sessions could serve other functions. It certainly seems to be what we need to recover from mental fatigue, what is its function in recovering from physical fatigue? Would a power lifter, for example, be able to see the same strength gains on two hours per night – given a diminished rest period? Maybe it is possible to divorce sleep from rest and to shut down for 2 hours per day and to rest one’s muscles for an appropriate length of time… time will tell.
The project has now reached its deadline on Kickstarter, after raising more than four times its funding goal.
For me, I find the idea of getting an extra four to six hours of life per day to be more than a little enticing. How would I spend it? I’d like to think that it would mostly be spent on writing, maybe the odd late night ninja mission on my longboard, a couple hours of cycling here and there, watching movies, reading books, learning languages – in reality though, I’d probably just end up spending unhealthy amounts of time browsing my “friends” Facebook pages and looking at pictures of Grumpy Cat.
Einstein, contrary to the words of Tony Stark, was a prolific sleeper who according to some sources managed to squeeze in ten hours per night – plus naps. So yeah, movies lie to you. [Kickstarter via Oh Gizmo]