162919140

162919140

Photo by: Getty Images/Tara Moore

Getty Images/Tara Moore

Leonardo da Vinci and Nikola Tesla Allegedly Followed the Uberman Sleep Cycle

By: Joanie Faletto

Will six 20-minute naps per day make you more productive?

August 01, 2019

If you're anything like us, you consider sleep to be a holy, critical, much-anticipated, sacrosanct nightly ritual. If you're Leonardo da Vinci or Nikola Tesla, you consider it wasted time. Blasphemy, we know. Allegedly, the two stuck to a sleep schedule that is so aggressive, you'll get exhausted just thinking about it. Thanks, but no thanks.

Photo by: Shutterstock

Shutterstock

You're Getting Very, Very Sleepy

There's nothing controversial in stating that sleep is important. Sleep deprivation makes you eat more than you need, makes you drive like a drunken fool, kills your ability to learn, and literally eats your brain. While sleep is critical for countless reasons, no one ever said you need to soak it all up in one sitting — er, one laying?

While napping stations are all the rage in trendy millennial workspaces (naps work, people!), mid-day sleeps are not a new concept at all. In fact, it was common for people in the pre-Industrial age to break up their night's sleep into segments: "first sleep" and "second sleep." But, as legend has it, some of history's greatest thinkers took that a step further.

Anyone Got a Red Bull?

Allegedly, Leonardo da Vinci and Nikola Tesla stuck to an almost impossibly strenuous sleep cycle. While the pre-Industrial segmented sleepers had a biphasic routine (hitting the pillow twice in a day), da Vinci and Tesla practiced the most intense example of polyphasic sleeping (bedtime more than three times in a day). Their routine of choice, reportedly? The Uberman cycle.

This cycle consists of taking six 20-minute naps, evenly distributed, throughout your day. Continue indefinitely. According to the Polyphasic Society, you can adjust the system in a non-equidistant way to fit your needs. For da Vinci's possible adoption of this practice, Claudio Stampi writes in his 1992 book, "Why We Nap": "One of his secrets, or so it has been claimed, was a unique sleep formula: he would sleep 15 minutes out of every four hours, for a daily total of only 1.5 hours of sleep. Therefore, it appears he was able to gain an extra six productive hours a day. By following this unique regimen, he 'gained' an additional 20 years of productivity during his 67 years of life."

Tesla allegedly never slept for more than two hours in any given 24-hour period, if you can even believe that. But, please, don't try to mimic it. This may have been the ticket that drove him to a mental breakdown at age 25. "Professors at the university warned Tesla's father that the young scholar's working and sleeping habits were killing him," reports Smithsonian magazine.

The reason why people would submit themselves to odd sleeping hours and shortened napping shifts is obvious: More time means — ideally — more productivity. A 1989 study published in Work & Stress found that polyphasic sleep strategies improve prolonged sustained performance. So, not only do you have more time to do what you have to do, but you'll maybe even get better results when you do it. Just do us a favor, and don't go to Tesla-like extremes with it.

This article first appeared on Curiosity.com.

Next Up

The Secret of Pluto’s Ocean

When we think of an ocean, we don't necessarily think of Pluto. If we can’t see the liquid water, why do astronomers think it’s there?

Welcome to the Surface of Mars

Through the use of cutting-edge instruments, scientists finally have the opportunity to probe deep beneath the surface and ascertain exactly how the terrestrial planet formed.

The 2020 Planetary Primaries

What’s your favorite planet? Before you decide, here are some key facts about each of the candidates.

4 Reasons Why Earth is the Best Planet to Call Home

Since 1970, folks from around the world have gathered together to celebrate Earth Day, an appreciation for all the good stuff we’ve got here on the Earth – and a reminder to try not to mess it up. But what’s so special about the Earth, anyway?

Following Blue Origin’s NS-12 Rocket Launch

Blue Origin, Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight company, is rescheduled to launch its NS-12 reusable spacecraft on Wednesday, December 11. Watch it LIVE.

What are the Chances of Life Appearing On…Earth?

Just how lucky are we on Earth? What were the chances that life would arise, let alone lead to intelligence?

Lowell Observatory Astronomers Celebrate Hubble

Astronomers from Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope with personal stories from their research.

How Did the Solar System Form?

How did our solar system form? It's a pretty simple and straightforward question, but as with most things in science, simple and straightforward doesn't necessarily mean easy.

Stuck at Home? What to See in the Night Sky this Month

In times of darkness and incertainty, opt for exploration of wonder in the skies.

Check Out the Crab Nebula –The Leftovers from a Giant Cosmic Firework

The Crab Nebula sits 6,500 light-years away, and is currently about 11 light-years across. But while it looks pretty from afar, don’t give in to the temptation to visit it up close.