Polyphasic Sleep vs. Monophasic Sleep: Which is Better For You?

Here’s why getting 8 hours of sleep each night might be hindering your productivity.

We’re always told to make sure we’re getting at least eight hours of sleep each night in order to be our most energized and productive selves. But if you’ve ever woken up after a “good night’s” sleep feeling groggy, or perhaps even worse, gotten through half of the workday and crashed after lunch time, it might be because of the type of sleep you’re getting – remember, quality over quantity.

asian man in bed suffering insomnia and sleep disorder thinking

What is Monophasic Sleep?

It may shock you to know that the human body is not designed to have one long period of eight-hour sleep. The term for this is known as monophasic sleep – “mono” meaning “one,” and “phasic” referring to phase. It’s due to the demands of capitalism, the eight-hour workday, and other cultural norms that this is the most accommodated sleep schedule. With the exception of some cultures, a singular phase of sleep is the most common form of shut-eye around the world.

 

However, is it the most productive? If you were to implement a sleep schedule that incorporated multiple phases of sleep over a period of 24 hours (otherwise known as polyphasic sleep), would you feel more energized on a regular basis and greater mental clarity? Research into the subject suggests that this might be the case.

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Okay, so what is Polyphasic Sleep, Exactly?

While there are many types of polyphasic sleep, the one most attempted and subsequently studied is the Uberman phase – that which consists of 6 twenty minute naps every 4 hours, over the course of 24 total hours. While adapting to this type of schedule is bound to have a physical and emotional toll, individual testimonies report that after adapting, this schedule gave them little to no trouble.

The most troubling part of this process is your body’s reconfiguration of how it experiences REM sleep. In general, it takes your mind about an hour and a half after falling asleep to enter REM. Not being able to enter this crucial stage of sleep has a slew of physical, mental and emotional consequences. So, if you’re only taking twenty-minute naps over the course of an entire day, how could you possibly be getting the sleep you need? For the first week (or even couple of weeks) you’re going to feel like death – but the human body is incredibly adept and will acclimate to this new schedule over time. If done correctly, you might actually increase your productivity and improve your mental clarity and focus.

 

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