Pros and cons of polyphasic sleep patterns


Polyphasic sleep is a mode in which you sleep four to six times a day, not a monophasic sleep mode, which most of us consider "normal." The polyphasic pattern (multiphase – "many" and -phase – "in stages") generally consists of periods of sleep of 20 to 30 minutes during the day with or without a consolidated period of basic sleep at night.

Interest has increased in using modified wake and sleep schedules to maximize productivity by reducing total sleep time. The question is, are changes like polyphasic sleep safe and realistic, or are we just used to thinking that a solid eight hours of sleep each night is necessary to maintain good health and optimal performance?

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Polyphasic sleep concept

In the United States and in most industrialized countries, we have a rather unusual idea of what sleep patterns should be. They teach us that you should fall asleep in 10-20 minutes, sleep seven to nine hours depending on age and physical condition, you hardly remember waking up at night and waking up refreshed. Anything less puts you at risk for sleep deprivation and physical and emotional harm.

But there are those who argue that these patterns are not fixed in all societies and that some of them require variation to function optimally. Of course, from a historical perspective, the sleep needs of a hunter-gatherer society are very different from the needs of an industrial society, in which daily work schedules largely dictate sleep patterns .

The modern concept of polyphasic sleep is based on the concept that we do not need a long period of nighttime sleep to function properly.

In addition, he argues that the circadian rhythm , a natural internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle that repeats with each revolution of the earth, can be adjusted so that the polyphasic pattern is considered normal, routine and even beneficial.


Until recently, the body of evidence supporting polyphasic sleep was mostly anecdotal and often bordering on pseudoscience , with doctors claiming it improved productivity and mental function compared to traditional monophasic sleep patterns.

Over the past century, various versions have been added to the lexicon of those who support this practice, called Dymaxion, Uberman and Everyman schedules.

Dymaxion schedule

Dymaxion, developed in the 1920s by Buckminster Fuller, a renowned American architect and futurist, is one of the most famous polyphasic sleep modes. It's also the most drastic method, requiring four 30-minute naps every six hours, for a total of just two hours of sleep per day .

Fuller reportedly slept on this schedule for two years: He worked a few hours, took a short nap, and then went back to work, giving him 22 hours to work, socialize and perform daily tasks.

Some argue that Fuller's success was due to a rare mutation in the DEC2 gene (also known as the "short sleep gene"). Consequently , if you naturally only need a few hours of sleep each night, this schedule is likely to lead to chronic sleep deprivation.

Uberman schedule

Drawing inspiration from Fuller's work, Marie Staver, an amateur scientist and IT professional with many years of insomnia , developed the Ubermann chart in 1998. Named after Friedrich Nietzsche's Ubermensch , this regulated schedule allows six to 30 minutes of sleep. every four hours. only three hours of sleep a day .

Proponents of the Uberman schedule often claim that they have higher energy levels and can enter REM sleep faster than monophasic sleep.

It has been suggested that the Ubermann chart does this by keeping the concentration of adenosine (an organic compound that helps regulate sleep recovery) in the blood, rather than allowing it to plummet during prolonged sleep .

However, these benefits have yet to be scientifically proven for one simple reason: Most people cannot follow the program for long. Even Staver finally got out of Uberman's schedule when he started working a sleep-incompatible job 24/7.

Everyman's schedule

For those who can't resist the tough schedules of Dymaxion or Uberman, a modified version called Everyman Schedule allows them a three-hour "prime" sleep period (usually 1:00 am to 4:00 pm), followed by three Naps. 20 minutes during the day.

Additionally, Staver's Everyman program provides you with a total of four hours of sleep per day and recognizes that a certain amount of core, consolidated sleep at night is vital to maintaining your circadian rhythm . It is also more compatible with jobs nine to five. For his part, Staver is said to take a nap under his desk to adjust to his disturbed sleep schedule.

With COVID-19 pioneering the expansion of telecommuting from home, some people have argued that normal-like sleep patterns are not only sustainable, but also provide naps that can help, but also improve mental clarity and productivity. .

What current research says

It is natural to wonder if polyphasic sleep can meet your daily sleep needs and optimize your daytime productivity. That said, it's hard to ignore the potential dangers of chronic sleep deprivation, including the risk of hypertension , type 2 diabetes , heart attack, stroke, memory loss, impaired immune function, impaired fertility, and health problems. mental .

Currently, there is little scientific evidence to support claims that polyphasic sleep modes are intrinsically safe or improve mental clarity and productivity. What they are certainly doing is the opportunity for higher productivity given the increased working hours, but it has yet to be established whether more will be accomplished during those hours.

According to a 2017 study from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, irregular sleep and light patterns in college students correspond to lower academic scores compared to students who follow a monophasic sleep pattern normal .

A cross-sectional study in Oman with 400 volunteers also concluded that polyphasic sleep is associated with higher levels of daytime sleepiness and decreased performance compared to adults on a monophasic regimen (interestingly, biphasic daytime nap regimens offer the most favorable results in general ) .

Pros and cons

Before moving into a disturbed sleep pattern, it's important to consider some of the potential benefits and risks.


  • Possibility of increasing productivity

  • Can better adapt to irregular work hours

  • Better reflects the circadian desire for afternoon naps

  • Reduces stress associated with episodes of insomnia.

  • It can "teach" the brain to quickly enter short-wave sleep ( deep sleep).

  • Maintaining adenosine levels can improve mental clarity

  • You can meet your sleep needs as long as the cumulative number of hours is respected.


  • May cause lack of sleep

  • It does not reflect the circadian rhythm in most people.

  • Difficult to maintain in many workplaces

  • Daytime sleep can be easily interrupted

  • The effect of seasonal daylight patterns, including daylight saving time, can be more dramatic.

  • The production of hormones, such as thyroid hormones, can be disrupted during the day and at night.

  • If the treatment regimen is not strictly followed, daily sleep needs may be disrupted.

Get the word of drug information

Since everyone has different sleep needs, it is important to avoid making assumptions about multiphasic sleep and not succumb to anecdotal evidence. For people who seem to need only four to five hours of sleep per night, this may be a smart choice, especially if the extra nap helps ensure sleep needs are met.

For others, polyphasic sleep may be nothing more than an experiment with arbitrary goals and potentially serious risks.

If you decide to examine changes in your sleep schedule, do so under the supervision of a doctor so that you can regularly and subjectively monitor your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, weight, heart function, and psychological well-being.

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