I'm certain that when I was a small child there were far more than sixty seconds in every minute. Or, if you like, that every second lasted much longer than they do nowadays.
Of course, the world doesn't speed up as we get older, but we have more responsibilities, sometimes more than we can humanly fit into the working day. Clock time, being a human invention can mean different things to us, depending on what we're doing. A week is a long time in politics. My whole life flashed by in an instant. Every minute felt like an hour. A watched pot never boils.
Over the Christmas holiday, time seemed to slow down because there wasn't so much we had to do. Now it's speeding up again. There's the school run, going to work and visiting the gym to fit in. How are we to make time for the other, enjoyable things we got used to doing during the holiday? I was grumbling about this when my son said "Ever heard of the uberman sleep schedule?"
Well, no, actually I hadn't. Seemingly it goes something like this. REM sleep, the sleep our brains need, takes only a fraction of the time we spend asleep. It's possible to train ourselves to get by on REM sleep alone, and still to function adequately. There are various ways to limit your sleep, uberman being probably the most extreme. You can read more about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphasic_sleep
My son decided to give it a go, purely out of interest. It wouldn't be easy to fit into a normal working day, as uberman demands that you sleep for twenty minutes every four hours. He needed to try it before he went back to work. There is a lot of information on the internet about the possible health risks, so it's not something to undertake lightly, or for too long, but he felt that a short experiment wouldn't do too much lasting damage.
I was cast in the role of interested observer, although in the first stages (from midnight until 8am) I left him to it while I maintained my own usual sleep pattern. By morning he'd had three twenty minute naps, and had been awake for the rest of the night. How did he feel? Okay. Surprisingly un-sleepy. And what had he achieved during those extra waking hours? Well, actually not a lot, but if he kept it up he'd have about eleven extra years to do it in!
It was weird, seeing him doze off for twenty minutes every four hours. To my surprise he awoke each time looking quite refreshed, although he'd needed the alarm to wake him. And he was alert enough to do his tax return towards the end of the twenty-four hour experiment!
Of course twenty-four hours isn't anything like long enough to establish a pattern, or prove anything. And it's doubtful if he actually did achieve much REM sleep because he didn't report any dreams, which I would have expected. However, he decided that although not something he'd want to make a habit of, in special circumstances uberman could be very useful. And he didn't need vast quantities of 'catch-up' sleep. At the end of the experiment he woke naturally after nine hours. Not enough hours in the day? How about twenty-two usable hours out of twenty-four?
Seb Goffe's latest book, Zero to Hero is out in February with A & C Black. Although possibly ubercool it was not written while he was being an uberman.