Even if we don’t abide by this principle, all of us know that we need between six and eight hours of sleep. Everyone should schedule their day to allow this time for their bedtime. However, countless people still sleep less than they should.
Saying that it’s their fault would be a mistake. Life keeps getting more hectic, and sleeping eight hours per night is a hefty challenge for many.
What if I told you that you don’t need to sleep straight through that time? Polyphasic sleep, also known as alternative sleep schedules or patterns, can help you do that. If you don’t know what they are, we’ll solve that today.
How much sleep do we need?
Most experts agree that our core sleep need is six hours. However, that doesn’t mean that anything after that is fair game. Sleeping for less than six hours is bad, but sleeping too much [also has health risks](https://amerisleep.com/blog/oversleeping-the-health-effects/#:~:text=Too much sleep on a,or cumulatively during the week.).
Ideally, we should sleep between six and eight hours. That keeps us from interrupting [our sleep cycles](https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/stages-of-sleep#:~:text=The first sleep cycle is,as the night goes along.), which results in grogginess and mental lag.
Understanding sleep patterns
A sleep pattern is like our other patterns: when we eat, how we eat, when we drink water, and more. Our sleep pattern refers to when and how much we sleep. For instance, sleeping during the night and napping in the afternoon is a pattern.
People can sleep once daily or in intervals. Different sleep patterns work for different people. Some don’t benefit from sleeping solely from 11 pm to 6 am.
Monophasic sleep: What we know today
Monophasic sleep is the prevalent sleep pattern for most of the population. That’s because we’re used to sleeping during the night. Since we’re kids, everyone tells us to sleep through the night and wake up early in the morning.
In fact, most of our society works under this schedule. Most jobs start in the morning and end in the late afternoon. Between 9 am and 7 pm, most businesses, offices, and stores are open.
Alternative sleep patterns: Optimizing sleep?
Alternative sleep patterns refer to any sleeping habits that go beyond monophasic sleep. Today, most experts split them into four types: biphasic sleep and three variations of polyphasic sleep.
Finding the right one for you requires experimentation and enough time and flexibility for adapting to our body’s changes.
Biphasic sleep means splitting our sleep pattern into two phases. Interestingly, many people do this without noticing that they’re adopting a new pattern.
Sleeping through the night and “catching up” with an afternoon nap is one iteration. You could sleep for five hours during the night and an hour and a half in the early afternoon to meet your six-hour requisite.
On the other hand, polyphasic patterns are where things start to become crazier. Polyphasic takes an extra step and splits sleep into several periods throughout the day.
However, that’s not the “weird” part. Polyphasic sleep patterns often aim to reduce sleeping time to less than six hours. The primary goal is to maximize REM and slow-wave sleep. Below, you’ll find the most common polyphasic sleep schedules.
The everyman pattern allows for a three-hour sleep during the day. After that, you take three naps for 20 minutes during the day.
The uberman pattern allows for more sleeping time than everyman. It implements the same three-hour sleep during the day, but it complements it with six 30-minute naps. This pattern offers the most time for sleeping: six hours.
Finally, the dymaxion offers the lowest time for sleeping. It reduces the long sleep time to a couple of hours. Furthermore, it allows for 30-minute naps, but only every six hours. It offers less than four hours of sleep.
The holistic takeaway
You don’t have to stick to the standard monophasic sleep pattern. You should try different sleep patterns until you find what works for you.
However, I can’t recommend that you switch from monophasic to a polyphasic cycle suddenly. I’d advise you to try biphasic sleep first. Experiment with different schedules until you find something that works for you. You can adapt to biphasic schedules without too many problems.
Finally, moving to polyphasic is a significant challenge. You need to tailor your daily schedule accordingly. It could take weeks or months to get used to it. If you wish to try it, make sure you do it during the holidays.