The benefits and risks of polyphasic sleep
As the majority of us, it is very likely that you are doing the so-called "monophasic" sleep which consists of sleeping once a day. But there is another kind of sleep structure that is much less common and yet can have a lot of benefits for your productivity. We will talk about the benefits and risks of this little-known way of sleeping.
This other sleep pattern is called "polyphasic" sleep because it consists of distributing its core sleep over several times of the 24h cycles. It is a natural way of sleep for young children. And no we are not talking about a simple nap. There are several ways to practice polyphasic sleep depending on your lifestyle. These are well-known programs that have their own community, fan pages, dedicated books, and research papers. You may already have heard about the "Everyman" program (nothing to do with the Iron man triathlon), or the "Uberman" (no relation with the VTC company.
First of all, why do people force themselves to sleep in another way? It is said that many great people like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, many presidents, sailors, and artists practiced or currently practice polyphasic sleep. The advantages (not scientific) of using polyphasic sleep is first and foremost to free time to achieve one's projects/goals by reducing sleep time and using a natural productivity booster system by taking advantage of frequent sleep.
It's a miracle would you say. You can transform into a kind of supernatural being that sleeps only a few hours while achieving great amounts of work without sleep deprivation.
Yes but... there is a but.
This type of sleep is not made for everyone. First of all, it does not fit with everyone's way of life and work. But more importantly, embarking on this kind of sleep journey will disturb all of your biological mechanisms. You have to be mentally and physically strong to be able to stand the change and be very methodical to last in the long term. You also have to be someone who naturally does not need a lot of sleep. Because you may suffer of sleep deprivation using these programs, not to mention the many negative resulting effects on your body and mind.
On top of that you probably have slept all your life "normally" accordingly to society and it’s not in a few days that you will succeed in changing that. The adaptation time of the brain to this new structure of sleep can be very long and painful. And while you adapt your daily life to the realization of this sleep structure, you will feel more and more distant from society because your lifestyle will be radically different. Loneliness is not always something easy to handle. Indeed, the time you are going to free thanks to polyphasic sleep will probably be lived "alone".
That is why only determined people driven by a project can achieve it in the long term.
Only very few people can sleep so little in the long term and still maintain their regular level of productivity. They are lucky souls who don’t need much sleep. These people can do with as little as four to six hours of sleep per day. So if you are not part of this group of little polyphasic sleepers, we strongly advise against trying polyphasic sleep for a long period. Otherwise, you risk to have sleep deprivation.
- In short photoperiods, human sleep is biphasic. THOMAS A. WEHR
- Sleep We Have Lost: Pre-industrial Slumber in the British Isles. A. ROGER EKIRCH
- The Effects of Polyphasic and Ultrashort Sleep Schedules. CLAUDIO STAMPI