According to these blog posts you certainly can. Imagine that. Approximately 22 hours a day of conscious, usable time in every 24 hour period. I say 24 hour period because apparently night and day become mixed up during this experiment. One person even went so far as to create new names for "night days". They ended up with a 14 day week.
This all sounds absurd. One of those things that can't possibly work. It's just counter to everything we've ever learned. But then I think about the 6 small meals, or grazing throughout the day instead of large meals. I played around with that for 3 or 4 months a handful of years ago and dropped down to the lowest weight I'd ever been, was full of energy, and generally pretty happy with life. At the time it seemed like an anomaly to eat like that, but its becoming the accepted way "diet" now if you want to loose weight. Could the same "less, more often" theory hold true for sleep too? It seems just crazy enough that it might work.
I'm really curious to try this. From what I've read you become useless—one person said zombie like—during the adaptation phrase which lasts from 1 - 2 weeks. This means scheduling it when there's some downtime with nothing urgent on my plate. This might mean waiting until the first draft of my git book is finished as I don't know how well I would be able to write while trying to adapt.
It also means getting Meg on board. I believe her first reaction was "you're never trying anything like that... you get too cranky when you're tried." That I am. According to the blogs of people who have made it through the adaptation phase, you're never really tired in the normal sense though. A break is always just a few hours away and you wake up feeling refreshed.
My mind just keeps coming back to all of the extra things I could do if I was only sleeping 14 - 16 hours a week. Think about that for a second. An extra 40 hours a week! I could pay some attention to PHPT and get it finished up. I could knock out the rest of my book in two weeks. I could get serious about going back to school for that pre-law bachelor's. I would have the 30 - 60 minutes a day to devote to becoming fluent in another language. Hell, if I picked the language based on when I was studying, I might even find a native speaker in another language to help me out with conversation.
Steve Pavlina, the author of the first linked post, kept it up for nearly 6 months before reverting back to nightly "hibernating". He felt fine and said he could have kept going, no problem. The issue he ran into was being polyphasic—sleeping in small intervals through the day—in a monophasic world. This seems to be the common thread in people who made the switch, then stopped. The pressures of being at an office, or handling meetings, or being social during "social times" eventually got to be boring and/or not worth it.
I don't know if those would be an issue for me or not. I have a pretty unique situation since I work remote and +2 hours from the majority of the rest of my company. The only real schedule I have to sync with is Meg's schedule. If I played it right, I could schedule a nap right after she goes in for work, mid way through her work day, and right before she gets off. Then the rest of my naps would be during the time she's asleep anyhow so, assuming there were no ill-side effects, she would hardly notice that I was doing it.
I've started tagging some things that I've come across with polyphasic in my del.icio.us feed. If you're interested in looking into this yourself, check them out.
This is one of those things that is just crazy enough I might have to try it. If I do, I'll definitely blog about it. With all of the extra time I might actually be able to keep the blog current again... :-)