The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Sunday, January 18, 2009


How to cutback.

Like most people, I wish I could sleep less. It really does seem like a waste, all that time just laying there in an unconscious state, when you could be putting that time to more productive use. However, I always assumed that sleep was one of those biological necessities you just can't escape. Kind of like breathing, it's sort of a bore all that inhale-exhale stuff, but you better not try not doing it!

However, recently I came across this information about a sleep lifestyle that lowers your sleep needs to two or three hours per day. It was devised by the scientist, architect and philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. According to this old article in the archives of TIME Magazine :

Sleep is just a bad habit. So said Socrates and Samuel Johnson, and so for years has thought grey-haired Richard Buckminster Fuller, futurific inventor.... Fuller made a deliberate attempt to break the sleep habit, with excellent results. Last week he announced his Dymaxion system of sleeping. Two hours of sleep a day, he said firmly, is plenty.

Fuller reasoned that man has a primary store of energy, quickly replenished, and a secondary reserve (second wind) that takes longer to restore. Therefore, he thought, a man should be able to cut his rest periods shorter by relaxing as soon as he has used up his primary energy. Fuller trained himself to take a nap at the first sign of fatigue (Le., when his attention to his work began to wander). These intervals came about every six hours; after a half-hour's nap he was completely refreshed.

For two years Fuller thus averaged two hours of sleep in 24. Result: "The most vigorous and alert condition I have ever enjoyed." Life-insurance doctors who examined him found him sound as a nut. Eventually he had to quit because his schedule conflicted with that of his business associates, who insisted on sleeping like other men.

People all over the world have been experimenting with this sleep schedule, and not surprisingly some of them have been blogging about it. According to the Wikipedia:

In recent years, several people have experimented with alternative sleep patterns intended to reduce sleep time to 2–6 hours daily in order to get more wake time, and some of them have blogged their experiences. This is purportedly achieved by spreading out sleep into short naps of around 15–45 minutes throughout the day, and in some variants, a core sleep period of a few hours at night. The systematic napping patterns are, by the online proponents, called variously polynapping, polyphasic sleep, Everyman sleep schedule and Uberman's sleep schedule.

Some bloggers believe that it takes roughly one week to convert to a polyphasic sleep cycle. During the first few days, they claim, the body will experience controlled sleep deprivation and can be expected to enter REM and deep sleep stages more quickly during each nap. After the first week, some bloggers mention vivid dreams occurring during each nap and a refreshed feeling of awareness shortly after each nap.

I'm intrigued by this. Can you imagine having over thirty hours a week of extra time that you used to waste sleeping? I may experiment with this lifestyle change soon, and of course I will tell you the results.

The computer world was dismayed by the news this week that Steve Jobs (above) is taking a leave of absense from his company APPLE for undisclosed health reasons. The announcement comes after a shocking deterioration in his appearance in recent months. Although only 53, he now looks like a man in his seventies with speculation on the cause ranging from cancer to AIDS. Whatever is wrong, Jobs is one of our era's foremost computer geniuses, so let's hope he recovers.

It just goes to show that no amount of money and success can guarantee you good health. I was inspired to reflect on my own mortality recently when Jeff Ziff sent me some scans of Pine Point's Duggan Junior High School Yearbook from 1973.

I recognised many people in it, including my neighbor Brian Giamarino, whose friend Michael Spagnuolo drowned in Five Mile Pond on Boston Road. Yearbooks are all about the future, but for Michael he only had a short time left to live.

Enjoy your life while you can, because tomorrow is promised to no one.

To read the entire Duggan yearbook click here.

Moving quickly from the profound to the vapid, actress Miley Cyrus has apparently dumped her underwear model boyfriend Justin Gaston, perhaps in part because photos surfaced of him partying in Hollywood nearly nude with another woman.

Last week paparazzi caught the teen queen out riding her bicycle all alone, innocence restored and lessons learned.

Less innocent is this photo sent to me by an Amherst College student, claiming to have been taken at a birthday party for a straight student who as a joke was given a male stripper by his roommates. Here birthday boy recoils in embarrassment as his unwrapped gift hops on his lap.

Sigh, no one ever gives me anything but practical gifts for my birthday.

This morning I woke up to see a scene out my window of virgin snow.

Although pretty to look at, after a weekend of record shattering cold it would have been nice to be spared more snow. In the window of downtown Northampton's Skera Gallery this dog delivers some well-needed warm socks.

With the students at UMass not due to come back until the 24th, the campus today was a silent world of white.

At least I didn't have to listen to UMass biophysics majors trying to sing.


Jim Neill said...

Sleep is a person's natural opiate. Those of us who use to do drugs know about the urge to take a vacation from our base consciousness. I've lapsed into irresponsible amounts of sleep lately (winter, dream addiction) but I'm working on reverting to the age old "early to bed, early to rise" ethos. This Buckminster Fuller thing reminds me of the "anti-orgasm" movement (Tom Cruise was an advocate) that urged men not to spend their essence frivolously. I had a book that had drawings that demonstrated how to "pinch off" you orgasm and "reroute it up the spine to the brain." I don't mean to discourage you Tom! I can't wait to hear your results. Personally, I enjoy unconsciousness as much as consciousness at this point.

Mary E.Carey said...

I agree with Jim.

Anonymous said...

Rerouting your orgasm to your brain? Doesn't that make you a fuckhead?

sleeper said...

Tom,, Richard Buckminster Fuller obviously never had a "Sleep by Number Bed"!