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. It 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. Here, we’ll explain what they are.

What sleep schedules are there?

Beyond Monophasic Sleep: Can We Deviate From 8 Hours A Night?

So, what other sleep schedules are out there? There are 4 other sleep schedules other than the classic Monophasic sleep that has been approved by scientists and can sometimes be more feasible for particular people. Let’s take a look at them and what they mean.

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 fewer long naps (albeit – not by much)?

Beyond Monophasic Sleep: Can We Deviate From 8 Hours A Night?

What is polyphasic sleep?

The majority of people are monophasic sleepers, which means they get their entire night’s worth of sleep at once. Polyphasic sleepers, on the other hand, take brief naps during the day rather than sleeping through the night.

Types of polyphasic sleep

  • Uberman sleep cycle: The average Uberman naps for 20 minutes six times a day for a total of two hours of sleep each day.
  • Everyman sleep cycle: This schedule includes sleeping for three hours during the night and supplementing with three 20-minute naps throughout the day, for a total of four hours of sleep each day.
  • Triphasic sleep cycle: A total of four to five hours of sleep are obtained each day during three brief sleep intervals that occur in the evening, early in the morning, and in the afternoon.

What are the benefits of polyphasic sleep?

Beyond Monophasic Sleep: Can We Deviate From 8 Hours A Night?

Increased productivity

People who frequently partake in polyphasic sleep frequently report greater alertness, productivity, and the capacity to learn and remember new material. But there is no reliable evidence to back up these statements.

It’s possible that polyphasic sleep patterns feel more productive because the sleeper has more time to complete tasks rather than more energy. There are still 21 hours available if you simply sleep for three hours each day.

Better memory

Polyphasic sleep schedules are marked by their short bursts of sleep throughout the day and night. This increase in shorter sleeping periods throughout the day could theoretically impact your ability to stay sharp. Sleep helps consolidate and store memories in adults. A study showed that napping within an hour of learning new words helped young children retain new words for up to a week later.

However, evidence suggests that sleep windows of less than 30 minutes do not have a significant effect on memory performance. Increased memory and learning should not be expected if you are following an uberman or everyman sleep schedule, as their nap periods do not extend past 30 minutes.

Better compatibility for irregular schedules

For some people who have a non-traditional work schedule, such as shift work or on-call work, polyphasic sleep cycles may be more effective than monophasic. However, there is no evidence to suggest that shift workers benefit more from polyphasic sleep. 

A polyphasic sleep schedule can be something you think about if you struggle to stay awake during your shift. However, interference with your regular sleep-wake cycle might have a detrimental effect on your health. On days when you are unable to get enough sleep all at once, it might be more advantageous to take naps. This will allow you to get as much rest as you can in one block of time.

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.

Read more on sleep deprivation here.

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It’s important to get a good night’s sleep, and getting the correct mattress is the first step in the right direction.No matter what sleep schedule you decide on, Mattressman has a wide range of beds and mattresses to get you the perfect sleep schedule.