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4-Hour Body

share save 256 24 Sleep INTERRUPTED...Good Morning America Debate

Good Morning America Debate Tim Ferriss and Dr. Boyle 300x199 Sleep INTERRUPTED...Good Morning America Debate

Sleep INTERRUPTED…Good Morning America Debate

International Best Seller Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek,”  ended up in a debate on Good Morning America with a guest doctor who strongly disagreed with several of his views in his new book “The 4-Hour Body.”

Mr. Ferris follows some recent discussions about being able to sleep less (or barely at all, in his case) in order to get more done and do more of the things one truly enjoys.  While these are worthy goals, there are few, if any, human beings who could get by on the amount of sleep or the patterns of sleep he recommends.  The Sleep Diva wants to know: Aren’t we all doing enough, Tim, and in many cases, way too much that we need to rob the restorative, refreshing, memory-consolidating aspects of a good night’s sleep so we can do more?

Click below to hear the audio excerpt from Good Morning America debating Ferriss’s radical statement on sleep:

Sleep INTERRUPTED…Good Morning America Debate

Mr. Ferriss contends that humans only need 2 hours of sleep per day if they time it just right, taking 20 minute naps six times throughout the day. This is not a new theory, but is referred to as “polyphasic sleep.” First defined by 20th-century psychologist J.S. Szymanski, a polyphasic sleep cycle is defined by sleeping multiple times in a 24 hour period.

Also referred to as “Uberman’s sleep schedule,” it is practiced by those who want to experiment with ultra-short napping to achieve more time awake each day. (Developing A Polyphasic Sleep Cycle)

At its best, the planned napping of polyphasic sleep differs quite a bit from random fits and starts of sleep for a person with insomnia, but there is a lot of argument that the reality of this type of interrupted sleep can be quite detrimental. In the article “Why You Don’t Want to Wake Up – Interrupted Sleep Interrupts Memory” in Psychology Today, the author references a study at Stanford as evidence for sleeping in uninterrupted blocks as much as possible.

The Stanford research team under Craig Heller and Luis Licea studied the affects of waking up mice more than usual to see what implications this could suggest for humans in similar conditions. This excerpt from the article summarizes their results:

Interrupt human sleep and you can’t get enough deep sleep and REM sleep. The beauty of the present study from Craig Heller’s lab was that the mice, generally interrupted at 60-120 second intervals, looked okay, had normal and unchanged sleep indices, showed no increases in steroid stress hormone levels, and behaved pretty much the same – except that their memory function was considerably diminished. All it took was decreasing the intervals between arousals about 30-40% above normal.

The answer: You mess up their memory and learning with relatively few 10 second stimulations – even though the rest of their sleep remains “normal.”

The implication: wake people up enough times and you mess up their physiology, even if they can’t recall the awakenings and objectively sleep as much as any normal sleeper.

The clinical bottom line: keep people sleeping without arousals as much as you can to improve overall health and function.

Michael Bonnet of the Wright State School of Medicine is one of many who studied what very brief arousals can do to human sleep.

The results he got were not pretty. Wake up “perfect” young sleepers for three seconds at a time often enough, and they felt like they were up all night – even if they slept 95% or more of the night.

In the interview, Tim seems to understand that this approach is not for everybody, but rather for a select few who can dedicate themselves to following a different sleep pattern.

While there might be occasions for getting less sleep than normal without consequence, the Sleep Diva, along with Dr. Boyle, cannot recommend this as a useful sleep pattern.  Aside from the changes in memory consolidation to think of, the hormone cascade which sets the body back to normal is not something we have success with disrupting.  The consequences of messing with estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid and cortisol, to name just a few, would not be  worth the gains in extra time. Aren’t we all doing enough already, Tim, and who has time to arrange six 20 minute naps a day?  That sounds like a full time job in itself.


 

 

 

 Sleep INTERRUPTED...Good Morning America Debate

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