Sleep & Health: The Advantages of Polyphasic Sleep

August 31, 2015

sleep wake

If you sleep anytime and anywhere other than the foam from the Philippines you bought, people are going to call you a sleepyhead. They’re probably right. Or you can tell them that you’re a practitioner of polyphasic sleep, making them wrong … technically.

Yes, there is a way of getting shuteye that is known as such, and it’s a pretty intriguing and revolutionary scientific discovery. In layman’s terms, polyphasic sleep is the practice of sleeping several times a day, usually more than 2 hours each time, as opposed to once a day. If you want to know more about this unconventional style of catching zzz’s, read on.


More than Twice

There are three kinds of sleep according to frequency. The first and most common would be monophasic sleep, a single instance of sleep within 24-hour time frame. Then there’s biphasic sleep, which means two sleep sessions in a day. Lastly is polyphasic sleep, which is the practice of napping multiple times in one day.

The two latter types are not very well-known, as not a lot of people do it. After all, the idea of a few stolen minutes – or an hour or two at most – doesn’t sound satisfying. Then again, according to those who support the technique, its goal isn’t to completely satisfy the need for sleep, but to give the most number of waking hours in one day, which in turn leads to the accomplishment of as many tasks as possible.

Polyphasic Past

Depending on your opinion and preference, it could either be a good idea or otherwise. Whatever your stance regarding polyphasic sleep may be, this style is quite effective productivity-wise according to many great minds. You might find that hard to believe, but examples like Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Nikola Tesla should be enough to stop your second-guessing.




Effective But Not Recommended

Aside from being geniuses’ genius way of catching zzz’s that maximizes waking hours, it’s also the method people use in difficult situations.

A good example of this would be Dr. Claudio Stampi, a neurologist and a world-renowned sleep expert who popularized the term polyphasic sleep. Because of his interest in long-distance solo boat racing, he studied the strategic timing of short naps during times when long sleeping hours are impossible, which is the case in his favorite sport. He has concluded that it does work, but he does not advocate it as a lifestyle.

Just Following Orders

In the same vein, military personnel also practice polyphasic sleep whenever necessary, as it is seen as an effective fatigue countermeasure during critical situations. In fact, a US Air Force report states that personnel in situations that do not allow regular sleep patterns are recommended to take naps that range from forty-five minutes to two hours.

Canadian Marine pilots, on the other hands, follow the same principle but prescribe a different range when it comes to the length of the time of sleep. To them, ten to twenty-minute naps in regular intervals should be a good temporary fix for sleep deprivation. However, as what their researchers would expectedly say, having eight full hours of sleep is still a lot more recommended, as it improves performance much better.




Now that you know about real-life applications, advantages, and drawbacks of polyphasic sleep, are you going to try it out? Do you think it’s cool or ridiculous? Love it, hate it, don’t care about it, you have to admit – polyphasic sleep sounds like a sleep-hater’s dream come true.