Tesla

Tesla (U4)

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Tesla is an extreme schedule designed by Sharif Olorin in 2009 that combines parts of Uberman and Dymaxion. It consists of four equidistant 20 minute naps (one nap every 6 hours) and no cores, allowing for a total of merely 1 hour and 20 minutes of sleep a day. 

While Tesla slept than most people at night, he did not actually practice this sleep schedule. Olorin merely named it after Tesla. Here is what he had to say about the naming:

“A friend of mine has recently switched from Dymaxion to the pattern I’m following. Now that I know of more than one success story with this pattern, I thought I’d better name it.
So I give you the Tesla pattern. Because:

a) Tesla’s awesome and

b) Tesla’s one of the few people known to sleep almost as little as we polyphasers.”
Sharif Olorin, 2009

Mechanism

  • Like other nap only schedules, all REM and SWS requirements must come from the naps.
  • The sheer intensity of SWS and REM pressures is also far more ridiculous than those on other nap-only schedules; Tesla has the least amount of sleep in the entire polyphasic sleep regime.
  • Given that an average human needs at least 90m SWS and 90m REM each day, it becomes impossible to retain these important numbers on Tesla.
  • Tesla naps can contain the mixture of both REM and SWS in the mere 20m of rest. 
  • A typical 20m nap at first will help avoid SWS wakes for some time; however, on Tesla, the soul-crushing sleep pressure will quickly place SWS at the end of each nap, resulting in abhorrent wakes from them. 

Adaptation

Ever since its creation, Tesla saw very few attempts, because it is way less popular than Uberman and Dymaxion. It is worth noting that the creator of the schedule and his friend supposedly adapted to it only for a short time.

  • Feeling of restfulness on nap-only schedules can be misleading due to sudden changes between restfulness and extreme tiredness.
  • It possible that the both of them mistook the prolonged feeling of restfulness for adaptation success; in fact, they were still in the adaptation phase.

Even if the schedule was viable, it would likely take someone with extremely low sleep requirements to complete the adaptation. The basic adaptation experience would be along the lines of Uberman, but far more intense. Since the schedule came into existence, there have not been any long-term sustenance records. For these reason, only people who have succeeded in adapting to at least one nap-only schedule before should consider Tesla; it is outrageously more difficult than Uberman.

Other than the cold turkey approach, it may be possible to gradually adapt to Tesla. Adapt to Uberman first, remove 2 naps from Uberman and slightly rotate the remaining 4 naps. However, no one has succeeded with this gradual adaptation method either.

Research

Interested in a research paper about the Tesla schedule? Refer to here

Alternate Variants

Because there are no adaptation logs on Tesla, it is impossible to know how many Tesla versions could work, or if they are even possible at all. Non-equidistant napping (e.g, 2 naps closer during night hours and 2 naps in the day have a bigger wake gap), slightly extending one or all the naps to ~25m remain largely hypothetical, if not outright impossible. Because Tesla has no core sleeps, it is highly questionable if a mere 20m nap could sustain wakefulness for a lot of hours. Moreover, SWS pressure remains insurmountable and can dominate the naps on any occasions.

Equidistant Rotation

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Equidistant Tesla with rotated sleep times

This variant was used in the sleep study mentioned above, but even with equidistant scheduling, it resulted in brief failure in all normal, average subjects. An experienced nap-only sleeper who has adapted to other nap-only or highly-restrictive total sleep schedules may be able to adapt to a Tesla variant with equidistant setting, regardless of the hours being rotated.

Lifestyle Considerations

Skeptics and average sleepers raise a lot of health concerns about whether the Tesla “mythology” would even be possible. Because of the gigantic amount of sleep reduction, it may still be tempting to adapt to the schedule. 

  • The non-supporting glymphatic system. Tesla has no core sleeps to sustain the continuity that the glymphatic system would usually operate (at least ~60m of uninterrupted SWS). Whether the brain would work efficiently enough to clear out all toxin wastes long-term puts Tesla in a very unfavorable spot. The consequences of the failing glymphatic system can easily accelerate the risks and formation of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g, Alzheimer’s).
  • Environmental factors. For example, one small drink, slightly walking faster than usual or breaking more sweats, or any other factors that can boost REM and SWS requirements (e.g, sickness, small injury) are likely to negatively affect the schedule.
  • Chaotic or dysfunctional hormone regulation. Stressors during the adaptation process is the most common way for cortisol concentration to soar. Cortisol’s action will in return reduce testosterone building, increase heart rate and more risks for hypertension.

All in all, considering all elements, only a very small amount of the human population can sustain Tesla long-term. One promising point of Tesla is that there is a huge wake gap (5h40m) between each nap. Each long wake period allows for many activities and commitments. This is an advantage that an adapted Tesla sleeper can prey on; other than that, Tesla does not appear to be a friendly adaptation, even for sleep mutants.

Main author: Crimson & GeneralNguyen

Page last updated: 23 December 2020

  1. Naitoh, P., et al. “Sleep Inertia: Best Time Not to Wake Up?” Chronobiology International. 1993;10(2):109–118. doi:10.1080/07420529309059699. [PMC]