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Ultradian Rhythms & the 20-minute Break

I had a Psychology teacher back at New College (who's now apparently an expert in the Klingon language), who used to talk about how the human body had these ±90-minute cycles. And that if you could become aware of yours, you could do Great Things -- particularly because you could learn the optimal time to snag a nap versus, say, try to cure small-cell carcinoma.

Not sure if this is exactly what he was talking about, but I am certainly fascinated by the idea of ultradian rhythms:

Ultradians are the regular recurrence in cycles of less than 24 hours from one stated point to another, as certain biologic activities which occur at such intervals, regardless of conditions of illumination.

Commonly used in sleep research to describe individual stages of sleep that occur within intervals of an organism's circadian rhythm, and especially to refer to the 4-hour ultradian cycle.

A guy named Rossi appears to be the mainstream gorilla in this field, especially as it pertains to "healing" (or, to put it less fancily, rest and renewal). He wrote a book called The 20 Minute Break and has a site where I found this overview/interview:

The basic idea is that every hour and a half or so you need to take a rest break - if you don't you may be well on your way to the Ultradian Stress Syndrome: you get tired and lose your mental focus, you tend to make mistakes, get irritable and have accidents - If you continue to ignore your need to take a break you can experience more and more stress until you actually get sick.

When you learn how to recognize your need to take a 20 minute break you can convert your stress into what I call The Ultradian Healing Response - Its that wonderful feeling of comfort and well being that you naturally have when you are tired but let yourself have the freedom to take well deserved rest.

Just learned about this stuff last night, so, no, I haven't read much more than what I'm posting here yet. Thing is, I recently started taking 20-minute naps every day (with the assistance of the most excellent Pzizz), and the effects so far have been profound. So I'm especially interested in whether there's a connection here. What do you guys say?

What's the deal with ultradians? Is there anything to this? Does this jibe with your experience? Prof. Schoen, are you out there?

Pure Doxyk's picture

Hey! Thanks for posting...

Hey! Thanks for posting this; myself and all the crazy fans of polyphasic sleep loved to hear it. ;) Though you may find the Uberman Sleep Schedule the most interesting (because it involves replacing all of your sleep with 20 minutes every 4 hours...I and others have done it for 6 months and more with huge positive effects), almost all polyphasic sleep schedules are based on increments of 4 hours, and naps of 20 minutes or "core naps" of 90 minutes. And to the best of my knoweldge, this developed without the knowledge of ultradian cycles! Really fascinating stuff. There's tons more info out there on Uberman and other polyphasic lifestyles, but I humbly offer my website as a place to jump in...Besides being an Ubersleeper for 6 months a few years ago, I'm polyphasic again on a different schedule now and have been recording my experience & progress for almost 3 months.

Thanks again for the info, from myself and others on the Uberman Yahoo group!





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