What is Polyphasic Sleep?
Polyphasic sleep is the practice of adjusting your sleeping patterns from the normal, monophasic, pattern in which you have a single sleep period in a 24 hour period, to a sleeping pattern that breaks sleep into multiple shorter periods.
Why do this? Consider that we humans generally sleep about a third of our lives (8 hours out of 24). Doing the math shows that, by age 65, we will have spent almost 20 years asleep. If you are stressed with to much to do and not enough time to do it in, reducing the amount of sleep is a tempting thought.
Types of Polyphasic Sleep
Generally speaking there are four major polyphasic sleep patterns:
Siesta Sleep Schedule
This is, by far, the most widely adopted polyphasic sleep schedule. It features two distinct sleep periods in a single day (24 hours), one at night and another during daylight hours. While there are as many as three distinct siesta sleep schedules, the most common offers 4 to 6 hours sleep at night and an hour to hour and a half nap during the day. This type of polyphasic sleep is widely practiced by in many different parts of the world including Latin America, Europe, and also the Middle East. Total sleep = 5 to 7.5 hours
“Everyman” Sleep Schedule
This is the “easiest” of the polyphasic sleep schedules and begins with a three and a half hour sleep cycle during the night and three twenty minute naps during the day. Just when those naps are taken depends on both Circadian and Ultradain rhythms. Incidentally, both the “everyman” and “uberman” schedules were named by a netizen named Puredoxyk. Total sleep = 4.5 hours
“Uberman” Sleep Schedule
A truly challenging polyphasic sleep schedule that forgoes that core night sleep period replacing it with six twenty minute naps spaced throughout the 24 hour period. The previously mentioned Puredoxyk claims to be the first successful “uberman” sleeper. Total sleep = 2 hours
“Dymaxion” Sleep Schedule
Developed by Buckminster Fuller, this most radical polyphasic sleep schedule limits a person to 4 30 minute sleep periods each 24 hours or a total sleeping time of 2 hours. While this is identical to the “uberman” schedule it is far more challenging as it reduces the number of sleep periods from 6 to 4. This is the most difficult of all the polyphasic sleep schedules and it seems as only people who are not able to sleep more than 4 hours monophasically can successfully achieve it over time.
There are also other polyphasic sleep schedules such as “segmented”, “Tripahsic”, and “dual-core”.
It is important to note that while there appear to be no long term health risks associated with any of the polyphasic sleep schedules, research is just beginning and long term affects (if any) are not yet known.
Its also important to note that adopting a polyphasic sleep schedule puts quite a strain on your whole body and a person won’t be at their best during the transition. Indeed, most people who have done it report “feeling like a zombie” for as much as ten days until their systems become adapted to the new schedule.
Yet, despite these challenges, polyphasic sleep schedules are tempting to many because of the additional time made available each day. What would you do with another 2 to 4 hours each day?
A lot more information about polyphasic sleep can be found at the website run by the Polyphasic Society.