Most of us are on what is called a “monophasic” sleep schedule: we sleep 6-8 hours, get up, stay up for 16-18 hours, and go through it all over again. That’s what people do, right? Not everyone. “Polyphasic” sleepers are those who sleep multiple times throughout a 24-hour period.
Why Go Polyphasic?
People suffering from concentration difficulties or depression report improvements in their focus and mood after adopting a polyphasic sleep schedule. Those suffering from insomnia have also reported improvements in their sense of restfulness after switching from a monophasic to a polyphasic sleeping routine. Clinical observation has shown that polyphasic sleepers enter REM cycles faster than monophasic sleepers, resulting in a deeper sleep despite the relative shortness of their sleep periods.
People switch to polyphasic sleeping for a number of reasons. Some have working hours which do not allow for an extended period of sleep during their day. Others find that they are naturally inclined towards only sleeping in several short periods and report an increased sense of well-being when they stop forcing themselves to sleep only once each day.
Four Popular Polyphasic Sleep Schedules
While pretty much any sleeping schedule in which an individual rests multiple times per day could be considered polyphasic, there are a few established schedules that have been devised by polyphasic sleepers. Each of these has its fans, though many advocates of polyphasic sleeping suggest to those considering a switch to experiment with several different schedules to see which one works best for their sleep needs and daily lives:
Uberman cycle: 6 naps a day, 30 minute naps every 4 hours (3 hours daily)
Everyman cycle: several 30 minute naps anchored with a core nap
Dymaxion cycle: 30 minutes every six hours (2 hours daily)
Siesta cycle: About 4 hours a night, with a 90-minute nap mid-day (5.5 hours daily)
Adjusting to Polyphasic Sleeping
If you attempt polyphasic sleeping, don’t feel surprised if the first two weeks leave you feeling fatigued and sluggish—this is to be expected when the body is forced to change lifelong habits in a short period of time. Any negative side-effect of changing up your sleep schedule should go away within the first month of the switch.
Maintaining a Healthy Polyphasic Sleep Schedule
If trying out a new sleeping schedule, there are a few things you can do to ensure your body is able to get the rest it requires during the limited time you’ll be allowing for sleep:
-Eat a clean diet. Avoid oily foods, sugar and an excess of carbohydrates
-Don’t use caffeine or other stimulants to simulate wakefulness, as this will disrupt your system
-Practice good sleep hygiene—don’t use your bed for eating, reading, etc. Only sleep.
-Use earplugs, power off electronics, and keep the door to your room shut when you rest
If you find that you have problems with your health for a sustained period of time, sleep normally and see your doctor. Switching to a polyphasic sleep schedule is a serious change, as it can cause changes to your health and lifestyle–it’s not something that’s easy or that should be taken up randomly or without proper planning.
Informational Credit to Crowley Furniture