Beyond monophasic sleep: can we deviate from 8 hours a night?

You’ve probably opened this page and thought, what in the world is monophasic sleep? It’s not a word that’s thrown around frequently, but it’s a routine that the majority of people follow in their lives. That is, quite simply, when a person sleeps once per day, generally around 7-9 hours at night. Now you’re likely contemplating how there could possibly be an alternative – and surprisingly there are several different ‘polyphasic’ sleep schedules that few people follow… Now let’s find out what they are.

Biphasic sleep cycle

Most similar to the monophasic sleep schedule, the biphasic way essentially means sleeping in two parts. This is usually done by sleeping 5-6 hours in one chunk, then napping for a further 1-1.5 hours halfway through the awake period.

Everyman sleep cycle

A bit more complex than the biphasic sleep cycle, the everyman is the last sleep schedule we’re discussing that allows for one ‘larger’ sleep period. This consists of an approximate 3.5-hour sleep at night, then taking three 20 minute naps periodically throughout the day.

Dymaxion sleep cycle

Now for our first sleep schedule that doesn’t have one period of sleep longer than the rest – the dymaxion schedule. Essentially this sleep schedule includes four 30 minute naps every 6 hours. Only allowing for 2 hours of sleep a day – we’re sure most of us are thinking ‘no thanks!’ to that.

Uberman sleep cycle

Lastly, the uberman schedule is similar to dymaxion. Instead of four naps, the uberman suggests six 20 minute naps every four hours. What’s worse – more short naps or less long naps (albeit – not by much)?

What are the benefits of polyphasic sleep?

Other than the fact that some people swear by such sleep schedules – there are no obvious health benefits to sleeping this way. Those who use one of these schedules claim that they have a much clearer head post-waking up from naps, but this may not work for everyone.

Most of us need to get 7-9 hours of sleep at night, and this is simply based on genetics and preferences. Many of us aren’t able to try polyphasic sleep because of the constraints of our working and social lives, which really does not accommodate for multiple naps throughout the day (if only!). 

If you did want to try a form of polyphasic sleep, you cannot impulsively jump from monophasic to uberman. This is because it would be a complete shock to the system. The way to healthily transition is to slowly reduce the large period of sleep you get at night, essentially moving from monophasic, biphasic to everyman, then if you wanted to take it further you could adapt to dymaxion and uberman.

With all this being said, sleep deprivation has real consequences on our everyday lives. Not everyone, in fact, a small minority of people would be able to contemplate changing their sleep cycle to one of these discussed. The most important thing is to research these sleep schedules thoroughly before diving into them, ensuring it’s the right way for you to go.

Sources:
https://www.healthline.com/health/biphasic-sleep#how-it’s-done
https://www.birchbox.com/guide/article/uberman-sleep-schedule-ubermensch-2-hours-of-sleep-per-day-polyphasic-sleep
https://qz.com/430415/i-once-tried-to-cheat-sleep-and-for-a-year-i-succeeded/

Chloe Baxter

Chloe Baxter

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