Early to Rise Sleep ScheduleThe so called "Early to Rise" or "Early Riser" sleep schedule is not a polyphasic schedule. There was debate as to even include information about it on this site. But, since the purpose of the site is to be "about alterantive sleep schedules" it seems to also fit.
The Early Riser schedule is far less complicated than any polyphasic sleep schedule. Check out Uberman sleep schedule to compare. The basis for the early riser schedule is quite simply: get up early. This sounds extremely basic actually. If someone goes to bed at a given time, the earlier they awake and begin the next day the more time awake they will have. Of course, most people believe that they need a certain amount of sleep to function their best. Sleep experts often indicate that people need 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night on average. Many people know this. So, since people these days are trying to stay up later and later for various reasons, especially on weekends (out with friends, for work, watching TV, etc), they allow themsleves to sleep in so they get the sleep they "need".
This is NOT how our sleep is supposed to work. Rather, we are supposed to get up at the same (or similar) time each day. Doing so will train a person's brain that this is what time it will be waking up and that sleep needs to be made to fit into that schedule. When you do not get enough sleep one night, your body is well aware of this. So, it sends out a sleep hormone telling you to go to sleep. It is because of this sleep hormone that you feel tired and groggy all day, unless you get some sleep. If you get just a very little less sleep than you should, then you won't notice this sleep hormone during the day but will feel sleepy earlier than usual. PAY ATTENTION to your body and this feeling. Doing so will cause you to go to bed earlier when you are tired and later when you are not. Therefore, if you wake up at the same time, this sensation will actually cause an increase or decrease in sleep, thereby reinforcing your natural hormones.
I know that this seems too easy to actually make a difference. But, it does. Most people who have fully adapted to an Early to Rise schedule indicate that when they are behind on sleep they actually feel LESS sleep deprived than when they were waking up whenever they wanted. Also, they are, in general, able to get away with far less sleep. So, if you are not up for polyphasic sleep for one reason or another, but you are interested in getting more wake time and/or more productive wake time, then perhaps Early to Rise sleep is right for you.
On an Early to Rise schedule, most people get up quite early to start the day, everyday (even weekends and holidays). Early means something different to different people. If you currently wake up at between 9am and noon, then 7am might be good enough for you to call it an early to rise schedule. But, for most people, early raising is probably getting up in the 5am time frame. This also means, though, that you need to be able to go to bed each night by 10pm. Not that you WILL go to bed at 10pm every night, but especially when you are adapting to this schedule, you will on some days. Eventually, one settles in on a rough time to go to bed each night. If you are truely being an early riser, then when somethign comes up and you receive les sleep one night than you are used to. DO NOT SLEEP IN. Instead, get up at your normal time and do your normal morning routine, even if you are exhausted. If you really have to, take a nap (hey look it can be polyphasic). Otherwise, just go to bed early the next night and then get up at your normal time again.