Before we know about polyphasic sleep, we should know how sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Sleep patterns worldwide are different, and thus different is their sleep habits (Also, read the importance of melatonin).
Since modernization has hit the world, people have struggled to maintain an overall schedule to adjust more working hours throughout the day; they try to minimize sleep time and maximize wake-up time to work more and increase 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, bedtime routines also vary with the work people do throughout the day. Those who do vigorous or heavy physical work need more sleep than those who do little work. These results are drawn from the study surveys 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 to 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 improve work quality; however, it can affect the individual's health. Polyphasic sleep pattern is considered an option out of necessity. It is essential to practice for soldiers during the war, astronauts on space missions, and 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 from around 1940 to 1950.
What Is Polyphasic Sleep?
The term polyphasic sleep is adapted from animals. While most animals do the regular monophasic sleep and complete their sleep at one time, mammals prefer a polyphasic sleep pattern.
Polyphasic sleep is a pattern where the sleep is completed in segments or fragments of 2 - 3 hours per segment. This pattern is completed at night and during 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 practiced by people and hence is less common. Most people today practice monophasic sleep, usually completing their sleep at 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 subtype.
Dymaxion Sleep Schedule
The first subtype of polyphasic sleep is Dymaxion. The dymaxion schedule states that the individual should sleep into four fragments of 30-minute naps with a gap of 6 hours 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 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, take a half-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 the Dymaxion sleep pattern was seen in 1943 by an individual named Buckminster Fuller.
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.
1st is where the individual completes the sleep in a nap of 20 minutes after every 4 hours.
Example: If you sleep for 20 minutes from 12:00 am to 12: 20 am, 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.
The 2nd variant is where the individual gets to sleep in 8 total naps. The 3rd variant, the individual sleeps in a nap for 30 minutes for a complete 3 hours of sleep.
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.
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 than monophasic or biphasic sleep.
Pros Of Polyphasic Sleep
Polyphasic sleep can be the best alternative when no sleep is available. When you are stuck with no option to sleep, polyphasic sleep can help you a lot. You can easily cover up for lost sleep by adjusting your sleep segments.
When the body feels drowsiness, the feeling is called sleep pressure. Sleep deprivation helps to get rid of sleep pressure caused by 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.
Since people following polyphasic sleep patterns only have a sleep of around 3 hours, they have supported that even 3 hours of sleep in intervals was far better than one block of sleep. The reason is that the body urges deep sleep in a polyphasic pattern; hence, even sleep of 20 minutes is quality sleep.
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.
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 with 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 have 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 in many types gives people easy access to do it on their own schedule.
Cons Of Polyphasic Sleep
Science shows the body requires 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 or insufficient sleep has mental health disturbed with a great impact. None of the polyphasic sleep patterns cover 6 to 7 hours of sleep; hence, people following polyphasic sleep experience sleep deprivation problems.
Students following polyphasic sleep to increase their study time have been seen as lacking in academics even after the increased time slot due to less active mental balance and confusion caused by polyphasic sleep.
Disturbance In The Circadian Rhythm Clock
The circadian rhythm clock of the body is the schedule at which the body automatically asks for sleep and to get up. Polyphasic sleep, by reducing the sleep time, forces the body to act against the body's natural sleep clock, and hence the disturbance in circadian rhythm affects the overall body. This disturbance irritates the body and acts similarly 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 physical as well as mental disorders caused due to polyphasic sleep. People without the 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 impacts the brain, and people lose concentration in the required tasks. Also, it makes people irritable and angry at any smallest point. People become more short-tempered.
Now that you know all about polyphasic sleep, let’s take a look at a few frequently asked questions.
How To Practice Polyphasic Sleep?
If you want to try polyphasic sleep, break your regular sleep time into slots. For example, let's say you sleep for 7 hours regularly; 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.
What Should I Do If I Have A Sleep Disorder?
If your sleep timetable is disturbed, you should adopt 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.
Can I Try A Polyphasic Sleep Schedule For Fun?
Following a polyphasic sleep schedule just for fun is a strict no. You should be aware that this sleep must be only accepted in unfavorable conditions. Trying out this for fun is a bad idea.
All in all, 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. With less scientific evidence and more theories proposed, people might get some benefits from the polyphasic sleep schedule, but they also may need help. Health advisory suggests people should always choose monophasic sleep patterns over polyphasic to ensure a good healthy life overall in terms of mental and physical health.Furthermore, if you’re looking to improve your sleep, and make the most out of your sleeping hours, then don’t forget to check out Crafted Beds. From luxury mattresses to soft ones, we have something for everyone. So get your hands on our mattresses, bedding accessories, and furniture to make sure you’re making the most out of your sleeping hours.