Polyphasic Sleep - What is it?Two kinds of people come to this site, people who have never heard of polyphasic sleeping before today and those who know someone considering a polyphasic sleep cycle (that someone is rather often themselves). Some people are both. This article is specifically for the former. The rest of the site is essentially for the latter and therefore you may want to check out our list of articles or blog.
Polyphasic sleep can be understood by breaking down the word. Poly comes from the greek word polys and means many. Phasic is the adjective form of the word phase meaning "a stage in a process". In this case, the "project" is a single day. So, polyphasic sleeping means having many sleep stages in a single day.
Polyphasic sleep is esentially not monophasic sleep - having a single stage of sleep each day, usually at night. Technically, polyphasic would include anything that is not only one sleeping period each day, such as biphasic - meaning the person takes a single nap most days around the same time. But, usually, especially on-line, polyphasic sleep refers to people taking periodic naps throughout the day, often NOT having a large sleeping period at night.
Instead of having a long, or at least as long, sleeping time at night, once adapted, people are able to survive on significantly less sleep total by taking a nap every so many hours throughout the day and night. The idea is that one's body can adapt to having far less sleep total by entering REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep more quickly than the rest of the world that is on a mono- or bi- phasic sleeping schedule.
There are three main polyphasic schedules that are usually followed or attempted: Uberman, Dymaxion, and Everyman. Here's the basics:
Uberman consists of six 20 minute naps usually spread four hours from start to start. e.g. 1am, 5am, 9am, 1pm, 5pm, 9pm.
Dymaxion consists of four 30 minute naps spread 6 hours apart, again start to start. e.g. 6am, 12pm, 6pm, and 12am.
Everyman consists of a core sleep period of about 3 hours and then three naps spread roughly evenly apart throughout the day. e.g. 4-7am, then 12:30pm, 6pm, and 11:30pm.
That's really the basics of polyphasic sleep. Our blog and Full List of Articles have a lot more information.
Happy reading and sweet dreams.