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Science of sleep

Be it from personal experience or reading a science journal, the consensus about sleep is that it is vital to a healthy body and mind. Lack of sleep can have very serious side effects, ranging from weight gain to death.

Sleep patterns can differ greatly from person to person. While the claim, “7-8 hours of sleep are ideal” is not completely arbitrary and probably account for most people, there are people that need 10+ hours (such as Einstein) or some less than 5 hours (most politicians and psychopaths) of sleep to function normally.

While there are certainly ways to keep yourself awake longer, most research agrees that the amount of sleep your body needs is fixed and written in your dna.

But what if we could cheat biology? What if the simple act of spreading out our windows of sleep could help us function at regular levels, while cutting our sleeptime in half?


Polyphasic sleep

“Polyphasic” is defined as “Consisting of two or more phases”. So instead of sleeping 8 hours once, you can follow different schedules, such as the “Tri Core” schedule, where you sleep 3 x 1.5h, spread evenly across the day.

Polyphasic sleep schedules can differ greatly. Some just take a long nap to save half an hour of sleep in total (Biphasic), while other take six 20min naps, so that in total they only spend 2h sleeping per day.

What does the science say

It says it can work. But sleep is very complicated by nature, and individuals who are considering a polyphasic sleep schedule are just going to have to give it a go and experiment.

On the website https://www.polyphasic.net/ you can find lots of links to peer reviewed studies, that seem legit. You can also find a bunch of blogs of other people who document their journey following a polyphasic sleep schedule. The results seem very mixed.

The most difficult part of adopting a new sleep schedule is the transition. When you are used to sleeping 7-8 hours and have been doing so for decades, making major changes and wait weeks to be able to tell if it is working, is going to be hard. It is very similar to starting a new diet. Results will not come immediately. It is going to take a couple weeks to get accustomed to something so disruptive to your body.