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Polyphasic Sleep : Trendy or Terrific?

From drive-thru windows and online appointment makers to those mini credit cards you can pass over a sensor to pay things at the speed of light; People are always looking for ways to save time. However, no matter how many technical marvels we invent to maximize our time, there is one inevitable culprit that demands eight whole hours of our day. Every single day.

Sleep.
Most of us will spend a third of our lives asleep and we just accept it. Yet, what about the people who don’t want to?

Polyphasic sleep can be easily explained as taking multiple naps throughout a 24 hour period as opposed to the traditional method (monophasic) where a person remains in a constant restful state. Going back to our Latin roots; “Mono” means one and “poly” means more than one, so it’s quite easy to remember the difference.

help polyphasic sleep chartpoly-phasic help

Two charts showing the contrast between the two, the “Uberman” pie being an example of Polyphasic sleep. Mmm. Pie.

What would an average sleep schedule be like with Polyphasic?

With the growingly popular Uberman cycle of polyphasic sleep, they nap for about 20-30 minutes, six times a day. All told they get 2-3 hours of sleep every 24 hours and people have been known to keep a fairly normal schedule, despite having a mandatory snooze every four hours.

2-3 hours of sleep? How do they not turn into lunatics?”

REM is the most important phase of sleep, with it you experience dreams along with your brain cataloguing and filing your short term memories. With a “normal” or monophasic sleep pattern, you enter REM (Rapid Eye Movement) after about an hour and a half of falling asleep. Polyphasic sleep systems are designed to enable you to enter REM almost instantly after you zonk out, which makes those nap times beneficial.

Why are you telling me this?

I normally don’t do well on little sleep, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Afterall, having an extra 30-40 hours of week may help me pick up another hobby that involves general nerdiness. This is a fairly common trend where many people have written about it so I hope that with their help I will be able to reach new tiers of knowledge, alertness and well-being.

Or, maybe not. 😛

13 Comments

  1. RawrStar says:

    Woo!! Nixie finally gave in and decided to give it a shot! =P

    Couple of words of warning; the first few days will be really difficult and you might want to set a *very* loud alarm because your body won’t like the idea of waking up so soon.

    But… It is awesome if you can get into it. ^_^

    I look forward to reading the next “installment” of Nixie’s polyphasic adventure! (Geek movie title?) =P

  2. Torch says:

    Did I ever tell you about stevepavlina.com? He tried polyphasic sleep for several months, several years ago… it worked well for him, but he discontinued it because it was too difficult to synch up with people around him… he kept a log, here’s the first day:
    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/10/polyphasic-sleep-log-day-1/

    Check out the rest of his site too!

  3. Torch says:

    Never mind! Silly me, I didn’t notice your link until after I commented…

    But thanks for reminding me, I haven’t checked his website recently, he’s got LOTS of good stuff!

  4. David says:

    Don’t I remember an episode of Seinfeld where Kramer tried this once?

    It would probably make for a good sitcom in your lifestyle. 🙂

  5. Olb says:

    Personally, it seems like you’re training your body to eliminate the buffers. You get the extra hours, but you also set yourself to a rigid schedule.

    You basically *need* the sleep every X-hrs. Whereas a monophasic allows for a greater disruption of the cycle and is more adaptable.

    I guess it really depends on your environment, and how static it is.

  6. Jank Hank says:

    I just feel sleep is the way it is for you because you feel like you have no “obligations”. Most people have “normal” jobs or other things they regularly due each day that requires them to sleep during the night. My belief is that people that don’t have things planned or scheduled for them have no rhythm to set their lives to. Thus, they can seemingly do anything they want whenever they want(including sleep).

  7. Anonymous says:

    My monophasic sleep is holy and just the tought of giving it up for 20-30 min. naps every 4 hours makes chills run down my spine… although it’s probably beneficial for people who manage to work it into their schedule.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I like the sound of this, however I tend to have issues falling asleep, so I’m not sure it would work for me.

    I’d be interesting to see if there have been any studies done about this sort of thing, and if there have what the results have shown. I’m not talking about the trial that one person went through, but an actual medically investigated study.

    Theoretically it sounds good. It makes sense. Personally, I’m on a 30 hour body clock naturally. I tend to be awake for about 20 hours and sleep for 10 if not forced to do the 16/8 thing.

  9. sam penfold says:

    Hey Nixie. Just thought I should point out that mono and poly are greek not latin! anyway, big fan! Keep at it!

  10. mulenmar says:

    So, any updates? Did you try the polyphasic sleep, and how did(n’t) it go?

  11. herman says:

    Hmmm. Very interesting to have this explained in such as nice way.

    I spent some time at sea and we used to do ‘watches’ of four hours or so at a time, other times we didn’t get any sleep for days, and other times in heavy weather we had nothing to do but sleep.
    I also drove long distance tractor trailers and road trains (tractor pulling two or three trailers), for a long time.
    I found that a 15 or 20 minute nap was the next best thing to a real sleep, just like you explained.

    Only problem is now after years of messing up my body’s natural biological clock I’m find it hard to get back to normal again. I sometimes can’t sleep at night, and then can’t stay fully awake in the daytime.
    Drinking coffee seems to help a little, but too much of that means I won’t sleep properly the next night, them I need even more coffee the next day.

  12. herman says:

    If you do decide to try out polyphasic sleep, be sure to give yourself at least two weeks or maybe a month or more to get used to it.
    If you have have experienced ‘jet lag’ you will know what I mean. The body’s clock doesn’t like being messed around, and it will probably take some time for you to start feeling normal after you switch to a different schedule.

  13. Nick A says:

    I used to do this. I recommend getting a ‘Shake Awake” alarm clock.

    I wakes you up without the noisy alarm. (My wife was not on board with my polyphasic sleep endeavorers) She thought (thinks?) I crazy 🙂

    This was invaluable to me.

    Good luck.

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