I was interviewed some weeks ago by the Evening Standard for my views on polyphasic sleeping. It was something of a blast from the past for me but as one of the few people on the internet to have done it and written about it, I get surprisingly regular, if infrequent, press inquiries on the topic. The journo who interviewed me said they would let me know when it would be published and forgot, so I only just remembered to look it up. It’s short but sweet:

 

Getting a good night’s rest once meant spending eight hours in a comfy bed, but now a growing number of people are applying a blend of science, technology and psychology to optimise their time asleep, and so make the most of their waking hours. From the hackers gadgetising their bedtime routine to the ‘lucid dreamers’ taking control of their nightmares, Londoners are transforming the land of zzzzzz.

Polyphasic sleeping

Can you survive on two hours’ kip? Polyphasic sleepers believe so. They sleep in short bursts every few hours to cut down the overall time needed. A normal night’s sleep is divided into four or five cycles of three main phases: light sleep, deep sleep (the most restful) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The reasoning behind polyphasic sleeping is that you’re so tired you fall straight into the final two cycles. The most challenging regime is the ‘Uberman’ — six 20-minute naps at four-hour intervals. Sarah McCulloch, a student at London South Bank University, used Uberman while preparing for exams, for periods of up to four months at a time. Instead of her usual eight-and-a-half hours, she’d sleep at 4pm, 8pm, midnight, 4am, 8am and midday. ‘You have a few days of feeling terrible, but you adjust and it becomes like regular sleeping.’ The hardest thing, she says, is fitting it around a social life — she once had to nap at a restaurant. ‘It’s not that practical, but if you have a deadline to meet, you’ll meet it.’ Dr Guy Leschziner, consultant neurologist and lead clinician at the sleep disorders centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, cautions that it’s not for everyone: ‘Whether you sleep half an hour every two hours or a full night in one go, our sleep requirements are genetically conditioned. Some people need more, some people need less.’

 

You can read the rest of the article (on general sleep-hacking) here.

 

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And so, on the 26th July, I was ordained an interfaith minister:

ordination photo Reverend Sarah McCulloch at your service

And so many thanks to my friends who came to share in my ridiculous joy – you guys are amazing.

It was a ceremony that was powerful, meaningful, and occasionally naff, but I’m never going to forget a second. I remember when I was 5, thinking that I’d quite like to be a minister – 20 years later, I’ve got Reverend in front of my name and a commission to go forth and minister as I see fit. It’s a lot of responsibility! The faculty told us to be aware that you feel quite fragile afterwards and I actually found that was true. It was like I’d had a phenomenal dream, and I kept asking myself, “Did that really happen?”

It’s mildly surreal introducing myself as a minister: I went to a birthday dinner last week and a bunch of friends and someone I didn’t know ended up at my flat afterwards for more drinks. The unknown person found out at about 5am that I was an interfaith minister and couldn’t quite square his mental image of a minister with a drunken me. I’m not sure whether that is a good thing or not, but I like to think of myself as transcending boundaries. :P

ordination circle Reverend Sarah McCulloch at your service

The ceremony itself. I’m on the bottom left.

33 of us were ordained that day, to make a total of some 600 interfaith ministers in Britain. What people actually do varies considerably. Some work as chaplains, others do workshops, go on to get further qualifications in their specific faith path, specialise in one ceremony or just work as a general celebrant.

I am still doing a MSc at the moment and in a slightly bizarre twist of events I’m opening a takeaway next week, so my time is somewhat limited – I’m taking this opportunity to let things settle but, to judge by the emails I am already getting about helping people with developing ministries and websites online, I’ll probably be combining both loves for a little while I wait for an angel to descend and tell me what to do next. I’m planning to build a separate website – watch this space!

team14 Reverend Sarah McCulloch at your service

Ordination Class of 2014, at your service! Check out OSIF for more info.

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