Monday, November 28, 2005

Polyphasic sleep


I've been reading lots (prob close to 10,000 words) about polyphasic sleep and biphasic sleep. It looks seriously interesting and I may try it.

Monophasic sleep: People generally sleep monophasically, where you getaround 7 hours of sleep a night in 1 big block. This almost compliments our circadian rhythm of about 25 hours and goes well with night and day. With this sleeping, you get 4 or 5 complete sets of the ~90 minute sleep cycle of the 4 types of NREM and REM sleep.

Polyphasic sleep: What babies, animals and some people do is change this rythm. As well as the 25 hour circardian rhythm we also have a 4 hour rythm (can't remember what it's called now). Some people have (after about a week of adjusting) convertred to polyphasic sleep, where they sleep for 20 minutes every 4 ours (6 times a day). Their bodies adjust so they go into REM and stage 4 NREM much quicker. This means you can get 2 hours sleep out of every 24 hours but get more REM sleep then most people. Some famous people did this (eg da Vinci). Lots of people says it makes them feel much more refreshed than before and more creative.

People sometimes do this for up to 6 months at a time, just occasionally reverting back to monophasic sleep for 1 night. Your body probably does useful things in stage 1, 2 and 3 of NREM so I don't know how sustainable this is in the long term - especially doing lots of sports.

Biphasic sleep: Another alternative is to get a "core sleep" of 3 or 4 hours at night, then have either a 90min nap in the afternoon or about 4 20min naps throughout the day. This means you'd get all the stages of sleep needed, more REM sleep and more waking hours.

Some dude called Stampi wrote a book about all this, but its $155 on amazon for some reason. There haven't been any in depth long-term studies yet, tho girrafes seem to cope perfectly well. Some people crave grapes, strangely.

The main bad points about changing to biphasic or polyphasic sleep rythms seem to be the adjustment period (which lasts under a week) and the having to nap during the day, which could cause problems in social situations.

When I have lots of spare time I may try biphasic sleep. My plan is to sleep from about 4am until 7:30am (I'll probably sleep until 9am, knowing me), then have 1 or 2 90min naps during the day if possible. Who knows if this'll work.

Leave a comment if you've tried this or think I should / shouldn't for any reason. It's all very exciting.


Tommeh said...

I think trying polyphasic sleep would be awesome, imagine having all that extra time. but i'd be worried about what I'd be missing from my normal sleep pattern, especially the physical element. Perhaps bits of you would wear our sooner? and what about imune system? Need more accounts of people using it for extended periods, did vinci do it all his life?

Fern said...

As an insomniac, i don't really fit any of those patterns - i get biophasic sleep but try to get monphasic... i think...