Do we really need eight hours sleep per night? If you’re a monophasic sleeper (i.e. you sleep all night and stay awake all day), the answer is yes. However, there is a way to reduce your sleeping time and get more productive hours out of your day—all while maintaining your health and sanity. It’s called polyphasic sleep, and it involves splitting up your sleep cycles to get the same quality of rest in less time. Check out these alternative sleeping patterns to see how it works:
Your basic “Siesta”—two sleeping cycles spread throughout the day as per Mediterranean rules. You get a long session of 5-6 hours followed by one 20 or 90 minute nap later on. Total sleeping time is 6.3-6.5 hours, giving you an extra 1.5-1.7 hours to play around with each day. For practicality, it’s best to schedule the longer sleeping cycle at night and take your nap sometime in the afternoon between 1-5PM.
The term “Everyman” was first coined by blogger and polyphasic sleep proponent Puredoxyk. It involves one 3.5-hour sleep cycle with three 20-minute naps spaced equally apart, or one 1.5-hour sleep cycle with four or five 20-minute naps. Total sleep time is 2.8-4.5 hours, with a daily saving of 3.5-5.2 hours. That’s pretty efficient, and anecdotes suggest the Everyman is easy enough to adjust to.
This pattern comes from architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller, who coined the term Dymaxion to describe many of his design projects. You take four 30-minute naps spaced exactly six hours apart. This gives you a whopping 2 hours sleep and an extra 6 hours to play with each day! Fuller claimed to maintain this sleeping pattern for years and was described as perfectly healthy by his doctor, but the Dymaxion has proved notoriously difficult for any who have tried it.
Like the Everyman, this pattern is also the brainchild of Puredoxyk. You take six 20-minute naps per day spaced evenly apart, for a total sleeping time of 2 hours. Again, you get 6 hours back. It’s just as efficient as the Dymaxion method, but probably slightly easier due to the frequency of sleep cycles. With that said, proponents advise that it’s important to maintain the schedule, as missing a nap can leave you highly fatigued. No wonder the name comes from the German for superman!
- The biphasic (siesta) pattern shouldn’t require much adjustment, but the others may take 2-3 weeks for your body to fully adapt. Make sure you have nothing intense going on in your life if you intend to try them.
- Whichever pattern you decide on, try to build it around your current lifestyle. The less upheaval you cause, the greater your chances of success.
- You’ll need to create the right environment to get the most out of polyphasic sleeping sessions. Go to sleep in a dark, quiet room, and get some natural light and noise upon waking for best results.
Q: Which one of these sleeping patterns would work best for you? Let us know in the comments below.