Bored of being bored? Tired of being tired? Just kidding! Ok this probably isn’t a good idea for people who get bored easily because it basically gives you an extra 6 hours in the day to be bored, lol. Yep polyphasic sleep can increase your amount of waking hours by 6.
So if you’re any good at maths then yes, correct, that means you’ll only be sleeping a grand total of 2 hours per day. Don’t worry this isn’t some form of torture. It’s totally possible to sleep just 2 hours per day for months at a time.
In everyday sleep we only get 2 hours per night of what’s called Rapid Eye Movements sleep (REM sleep.) This is the part of sleep that’s called deep sleep and as far as scientists can tell it’s the only important part of sleep. The other 6 hours are unimportant in terms of psychological and emotional well being. So, why not just cut out the 6 hours of wasted time in the middle.
Polyphasic sleep is where every 4 hours you sleep for twenty minutes. In those twenty minutes your body makes the most of the time and utilises REM sleep. So, over a period of 24 hours you sleep just 2 hours, but get all the important REM sleep that you need.
Polyphasic means ‘many phases’ hence the schedule of sleeping for twenty minutes every 4 hours, totalling 20 x 6 = 120 minutes each 24 hour period. Each 20 minute sleep nap allows the body to go into deep ‘REM’ sleep where rapid eye movement and vivid, lucid dreams occur.
Only a small minority of people can handle this kind of sleep schedule. Not because of a lack of sleep but for two unexpected reasons. Firstly, it takes an incredible amount of will-power and determination to get into a polyphasic sleep pattern. You must deprive yourself of sleep for almost a week. This forces your body to try and obtain REM sleep as quickly as possible, so when you lie down for a quick nap you’ll immediately go into it.
However, this also means you have to be incredibly disciplined about waking up from REM sleep. Sleeping longer than 20-30 minutes can disrupt the sleep pattern and you will have to rep-program your body from the start.
Polyphasic sleepers report that the transition period can last up to a month. A period during which the quality of your life may drastically reduce. It is for this reason that so few people actually achieve long term polyphasic sleep.
After the transition period, your body becomes accustomed to the inherent lack of time to sleep and automatically goes into REM as soon as you lie down. Must people use an alarm clock to make sure they wake up after twenty minutes. Other report that after a few months being polyphasic there is no longer a need for the alarm because they wake up naturally after twenty minutes.
Of course, most people won’t be able to try polyphasic sleep patterns because their schedules won’t allow it (jobs, kids etc.) However, fascinatingly, there is another reason why people find it so hard to live long term in a polyphasic pattern…
This is the strange feeling of the lack of day and night. Our 8 hour sleep pattern marks the changing of the day, from one into the other. However during polyphasic sleep one day simply runs into the other, seamlessly crossing over and blending with the next.
This can be very disorientating for some people. Not only will you be up and wide awake at 4 am, but you will completely lose your concept of separate days.
The benefits, however are obvious. You will have 6 extra hours per day to be doing whatever the hell you like. That’s almost 40% extra time to live the life you want. Think about how much you could get done!
Now obviously this if you get bored easily then this probably isn’t the best thing you can do, but it would be a good challenge.
There have been many famous (reputed) polyphasic sleepers, the most famous of whom are Buckminster Fuller and Leonardo Da Vinci.