Polyphasic sleep schedules involve snoozing in shorter intervals throughout the day, instead of trying to sleep uninterrupted through the night. With nearly a third of Americans today struggling with some form of sleep deprivation, it can be tempting to experiment with your sleep schedule and ‘hack’ your sleep cycle.
The truth is, good sleep is actually a lot simpler and more straightforward than that.
If you are thinking of experimenting with a polyphasic sleep schedule, it’s important to know both the pros and cons of this change in lifestyle. Here’s everything you need to know:
Before we get into what polyphasic sleep involves, it can be useful to have an understanding of what sleep schedules are in the first place, and how they differ from sleep cycles. Our sleep schedules refer to the amount of time we might put aside to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep cycles, on the other hand, refer to the body’s internal clock, which dictates when you feel either tired or wakeful, as well as how you flow from the different stages of sleep while you’re in bed at night.
Not all sleep cycles are the same, and it’s normal for yours to change and adapt the deeper you’re resting. You might go through about four to six sleep cycles in a single night. These are composed of the different stages of sleep, including the three stages of NREM sleep, and REM sleep.
To decide on a sleep schedule that works best for you, it’s good to factor in your lifestyle, personal circadian rhythm, as well as your established sleep cycle.
While you might be familiar with one or two already, here’s a breakdown of the different types of sleep schedules people tend to adapt for their rest:
The most common of all sleeping patterns, this refers to sleeping for a long period of time, usually through the night, while staying up for a longer period through the day.
This sleep schedule is useful for those who find it hard to get long, uninterrupted sleep at night, such as new parents. It involves one longer block of sleep through the night, and a shorter nap or siesta sometime during the day.
As the name suggests, polyphasic sleep refers to sleepers who rest anywhere from four to six times a day. These sleep cycles might be most commonly present in shift workers, who do not have the time to sleep for extended periods of time.
There are a few different kinds of polyphasic sleep schedules:
The monophasic sleep schedule gained popularity only after the industrial revolution, when the 9-5 job arose and established itself as the norm. Historically, however, our hunter-gatherer cycles are actually used to more interruptive sleep cycles, and in some societies, polyphasic sleep schedules are still prevalent.
If you struggle with sleep deprivation, or find it hard to get uninterrupted sleep at night, you might benefit from a polyphasic sleep schedule. Some of the pros of adapting to this new kind of sleep schedule include:
It’s important to be careful if you’re planning to adapt to a polyphasic sleep schedule. Not only is this form of sleeping deeply counter-intuitive to your body’s natural sleep cycle, it is also not very accommodating of most normal 9-5 schedules.
Here are some of the dangers of adapting to this style of sleep:
Thankfully, good sleep doesn’t have to come with totally changing the way you rest. There are a few changes you can make almost immediately that can make a positive difference to the quality and quantity of your sleep.
It can be useful to understand how much your sleep schedule impacts your well-being. Making time for proper, deep rest can transform your mood, energy levels, and general productivity.
You might want to try and use a sleep calculator to determine the schedule that’s going to work best for you. Ultimately, everyone’s sleep schedules are different, and if you find a polyphasic sleep schedule works for you, then it’s important to listen to your body.
Whether it’s by switching to a new sleep schedule, or simply investing in a hybrid mattress that supports your body adequately, deep sleep is just a few changes away!
Do you experiment with your sleep schedule? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.