Polyphasic Sleep

Polyphasic Sleep – Pros And Cons

Before we start to know about polyphasic sleep, we should be aware of how sleep is an essential factor for a healthy lifestyle. Sleep patterns overall the world are different and thus different is their sleep habits (Also, read the importance of melatonin).

Since modernization has hit the world, people struggle to maintain an overall schedule to adjust more working hours throughout the day, they try to minimise the sleep time and maximize wake up time to work more and increase their work productivity.

The human body is advised to sleep for 7 to 8 hours per 24 hours for adults. This time varies from newborns to kids and from teenagers to adults.  Every age is prescribed sleep hours to lead a healthy lifestyle accordingly and this is given after proper scientific shreds of evidence. 

Similarly, sleep schedules also vary with the work people do throughout the day. Those who do vigorous or heavy physical work need more sleep compared to those who do little work. These results are drawn from the study surveys done by The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are many sleep types namely monophasic (a sleep pattern where people complete their sleep in one step i.e a long sleep time per 24 hours), biphasic sleep (a sleep pattern where people complete their sleep in two steps i.e one a night of long sleep in the night another one as a nap in day or afternoon) and then comes the term we will discuss 'polyphasic sleep'.

Polyphasic sleep has been adopted by many people to reduce their sleep hours and maximize wake-up time. The decreased sleep helps in improving the work quality however it can affect the health of the individual. Polyphasic sleep pattern is considered as the option out of necessity, it is essential to practice for soldiers during war times, for astronauts on space missions and similar for others who need to work more for a short period.

Polyphasic sleep became famous as the hacking of sleep in people, as people came to know about this. It started in 1930 and was popularized around 1940 to 1950.

What is polyphasic sleep?

The term polyphasic sleep is adapted from animals. While most of the animals do the regular monophasic sleep and complete their sleep at one time, mammals prefer a polyphasic sleep pattern (Also read sleep asleep faster)

Polyphasic sleep is a pattern where the sleep is completed in segments or fragments of 2 - 3 hours per segment. This pattern is completed in the night as well as in the day whenever the individual finds the time. Thus it becomes 4 to 5 naps in the whole 24 hours.

Though the claims are that polyphasic sleep has helped to reduce the sleep requirement by at least 2 to 3 hours per 24 hours. Yet even after many claims, there hasn't been any solid proof to confirm such a thing.

Since there is no evidence about polyphasic sleep and reduced sleep requirement, this pattern is not widely practised by people and hence is less common. Most of the people till today practice monophasic sleep, usually completing their complete sleep during the night to wake up fresh in the morning.

Polyphasic sleep has three subtypes. Let's study them deeply to conclude the pros and cons of polyphasic sleep. Each subtype differs only in the schedule of the segments to have slept in one go. 

Let's see the Different theories of sleeping schedules in each of the subtypes.

What is polyphasic sleep

Dymaxion sleep schedule

The first subtype of polyphasic sleep is Dymaxion,

Dymaxion schedule states that the individual should sleep into four fragments of 30-minute naps with a gap of 6hour in each 30-minute nap. To total the naps, we can understand that the person gets to sleep for only 2 hours in the whole 24 hours.

To make it more simple let's understand this schedule in the simplest form

An individual following the Dymaxion sleep pattern should stay awake from 1:00 am to 6:00 am and take a half an hour nap from 6:00 am to 6:30 am and repeat the same process in three more fragments to complete 24 hours of the day.

The Dymaxion sleep schedule involves taking four 30-minute naps every 6 hours for a total of 2 hours of sleep per day. The first case of trying Dymaxion sleep pattern was seen in the year 1943 by an individual named Buckminster Fuller.

Uberman schedule

The second subtype of polyphasic sleep is the uberman sleep pattern. There are many variants of the uberman sleep pattern, but we will discuss two of them.

1st is where the individual completes the sleep in a nap of 20 minutes after every 4hours.

Example: If you sleep for 20 minutes from 12:00 am to 12: 20 am then stay awake for the next 4 hours and repeat the process 8 more times. In this manner, an individual gets to sleep for 3 hours rather than 2 hours in Dymaxion sleep.

2nd variant is where the individual gets to sleep in 8 total naps.

3rd variant where the individual sleeps in a nap for 30 minutes for a complete 3 hours sleep.

Everyman schedule

The third subtype of polyphasic sleep is the everyman schedule. This subtype mentions that the individual sleeps for 3-hour blocks in the night and three segments of 20 minutes naps during the day (Also read phone before bedtime)

Example:

An individual can sleep from 1:00 am to 3:am to complete a 3-hour block while the rest of a 2o minutes nap can be done in the morning as per the individual's preference.

Like the two faces of the coin, polyphasic too has some pros and cons on human health. The below-mentioned facts are concluded from many surveys and studies. However, none of the study's surveys ever mentioned whether polyphasic sleep pattern is better over monophasic or biphasic sleep.

Pros of polyphasic sleep

Polyphasic sleep can be the best alternative when the option of no sleep is available.

When you are stuck with no option to sleep at all, polyphasic sleep can help you a lot. You can easily cover up for the lost sleep by simply adjusting sleep segments for yourself.

Sleep pressure

When the body feels drowsiness, the feeling is called sleep pressure. Sleep deprivation helps to get rid of sleep pressure which is caused because of polyphasic sleep.

Polyphasic sleeping habits have some good effects

Polyphasic sleep benefits

Though there is no solid proof to support the benefits of polyphasic sleep patterns, people have reported that they feel some benefits of polyphasic sleep. Here are a few of them mentioned.

Polyphasic sleep benefits

Sleep quality

Since people following polyphasic sleep patterns have a sleep of around 3 hours only, they have supported that even 3 hours sleep in intervals was far better than one block sleep. The reason is the body urges deep sleep in a polyphasic pattern and hence even the sleep of 20 minutes is quality sleep.

Cognitive functioning

Certain people claimed that polyphasic sleep has given them good strength to control their cognitive functioning with increased work time. The brain gets trained to control the functions in the best way.

Productivity

People opting for polyphasic sleep have more than 20 hours to optimize for completing their chores or other tasks. That is more than 90% of the day to work and henceforth there is more productivity in terms of time availability. 

Working in an irregular schedule

Have you suffered from meeting deadlines by waking up late at night? Since polyphasic sleep patterns allow more time to stay awake, people who have irregular schedules find it easier to work freely on tight deadlines.

Polyphasic sleep is an option only for a short term period, if extended for more than necessary can cause problems for the individual following it. 

You can practice polyphasic sleep if you are having some important tasks to be completed before the deadline for a limited duration of the task only. Students can practice during exams to increase their study time, but they should also consider their health. 

Polyphasic sleep is also good for people who continuously shift in other time zones. It's also beneficial for solo sailors who participate in races.

The sleep pattern is in many types gives easy access to people to do it in their way and schedule.

Cons of polyphasic sleep

The science shows the body requires a sleep of at least 6 to 7 hours per day since polyphasic sleep reduces it to half. The body gets irritated and several problems are created due to this.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation or insufficient sleep makes the mental health disturbed with a great impact. None of the polyphasic sleep patterns cover 6 to 7 hours of sleep and hence people following polyphasic sleep experience sleep deprivation problems. 

Students following polyphasic sleep to increase their study time has been seen lacking in academics even after the increased time slot due to less active mental balance and confusion caused because of polyphasic sleep.

Disturbance in circadian rhythm clock

The circadian rhythm clock of the body is the schedule at which the body automatically asks for sleep and asks to get up. Polyphasic sleep by reducing the sleep time forces the body to act against the natural sleep clock of the body and hence the disturbance in circadian rhythm affects the overall body. This disturbance irritates the body and acts similar to the condition of switching in time zones.

Physical effects and health risks

The main con of polyphasic sleep is the insufficient amount of sleep provided. To explain further there are several physicals as well as mental disorders caused due to polyphasic sleep. People without any habit of following little sleep patterns have faced disorders such as major migraine problems, high blood pressure, unstable sleep apnea, misbalanced cognitive processes, depression and heart diseases.

Studies say the health hazards created by polyphasic sleep are as same as the problems created due to any other reason for lack of sleep.

Loss of concentration and agitated moodiness

Lack of sleep creates an impact on the brain and people lose concentration in the required tasks. Also, it makes people irritable and angry on any smallest point. People become more short-tempered.

How to practice polyphasic sleep?

If you want to try polyphasic sleep for any reason you should start by breaking your regular sleep time into slots. For example, let's say you sleep for 7 hours regularly, then don't jump on polyphasic sleep to complete it in 3 hours. It can be seriously dangerous to health and your body might get dysfunctional behaviour.

Instead, try to change it by simply breaking the 7-hour sleep into intervals like 3-hour sleep then 2-hour sleep and then two intervals of 1-hour sleep. This way you won't stress your body spontaneously and once your body adjusts to the fragments, reduce the sleep time by cutting off one segment.

People should mostly avoid polyphasic sleep, and go for the natural circadian rhythm clock of the body to gain the benefits of a healthy body.

Less of the scientific evidence and more of the theories proposed people might get some benefits from it but they also may face problems. Health advisory suggests people should always choose monophasic sleep patterns (Does sleep hypnosis work) over polyphasic to ensure a good healthy life overall in terms of mental health as well as physical health.

What should be considered as a concerning thing?

If you find your sleep timetable is disturbed a lot, you should start adopting healthy sleep habits. You can go for some good sleep exercises, and diet plans to help your sleep adjustments. 

Try to stick to those habits and even if those habits don't give any relief to your health, you should seek professional help immediately.  

Try consulting your doctor and ask for proper guidance. Professional help is essential when you know zero about any sleep disorder before trying other remedies to it.

What should be avoided?

Following a polyphasic sleep schedule just for fun is a strict no. You should be aware that this sleep must be only accepted in unfavourable conditions. Trying out this for fun isn't a wide idea. Hope this article might have helped you. 




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