So I'm thumbing through this month's issue of Wired and the cover has a blurb that reads "how to survive on two hours of sleep." If you know me at all you realize that this is a kind of life-long dream so I buy the magazine. I figure the five bucks will be worth that article alone.
Long story short, each night we pass through five distinct types of sleep and each complete cycle lasts about an hour and a half. The fifth stage is known as "REM," the stage during which we sleep and, apparently, the brain does mysterious shit that's necessary for us to keep functioning. Earlier in the evening the REM period lasts perhaps ten minutes and as the night progresses the REM period increases in duration, lasting perhaps as long as an hour during the last cycle.
Seems there's this thing called "Polyphasic sleep." The basic idea, as I understand it, is to view the first four stages as functionally useless. The goal is to train the body to get to REM as quickly as possible and this is accomplished by sleeping, for example, 20-30 minutes, 6x per day. The downside is that you feel like dogshit for a month. The upside is obtaining an extra 5-6 hours per day.
Apparently this has been the sleeping method of choice for people like DaVinci, Erdős and Bucky Fuller. So of course I've got to try it.