Guest blogger: Elijah Rider
Humans spend, on average, one-third of their entire lives asleep. While the scientific community still hasn’t pinned down into detail why we sleep or how long we should sleep, it’s safe to say that we sleep to rest up, physically, emotionally and mentally. Just like our bodies need nutrition to keep going, our bodies also need sleep.
There are many theories around on how long we should sleep. The most common one, is about 7-8 hours, which varies depending on your age. This is called the monophasic cycle. Awake by day, sleep by night, repeat forever.
Not being a lover of sleep myself, a couple of months ago I started the search for alternative sleep cycles. Specifically those that brought out the most of my sleep, but where I wouldn’t lose any quality and quantity of wakefulness. I’ve already mentioned the Monophasic Cycle above, but I promised you 4 alternate cycles! The following 4 are all polyphasic cycles:
The Biphasic Cycle is by far the most popular of the polyphasic cycles that we have heard of. Think siesta or an afternoon nap. This cycle consists of a 5-6 hours of sleep at night and 20-, 60- or 90-minute nap by day. If you’re worried about health issues, the scientific community has enough data to state that the byphasic cycle is actually better for your health when being compared with the monophasic -regular- cycle. It also leads to better moods, a significant decrease in stress, and an increase in overall alertness and productivity (maybe notify your boss about this?).
The Everyman Cycle consists of 3.5 hours of core sleep and three 20-minute naps spread out over the day. This cycle was designed to counteract our human drops in our alertness. The common sleep schedule with this cycle is sleeping from 9pm-12:30am and going to nap at 4:10am, 8:10am and 2:40pm.
The Dymaxion Cycle is the least successful one, because it generally can only be successfully applied by a certain group of people. People with the DEC2 gene, also known as ‘short sleepers,’ require about 4 hours of sleep in a monophasic cycle, which makes this cycle possible for them. For us regular folk, there isn’t enough time spent in REM to adapt to this cycle. This does not make it impossible, but it would be tough. This cycle consists of four 30-minute naps throughout the entire day. Some have mixed it up with a 1.5 hours of sleep, two 30-minute naps and one 20-minute nap, still only totalling only 2 hours and 50 minutes of sleep.
Last, but definitely not least, we have the Uberman Cycle. This cycle uses 20-minute naps and totals at about 2 hours of sleep through the entire day. Unlike the dymaxion cycle where you typically take a 30-minute nap every 6 hours, in this cycle 20-minute naps are taken every 3 hours. Some have added two naps, believing that these extra 40 minutes are of importance. Here, keeping to your nap schedule is very important. Users have reported that when naps were missed, it resulted in feeling very drained and tired.
On another, cool, note, users of the uberman cycle have also reported that they experience very vivid lucid dreams.
As of right now, I have only experienced with the byphasic cycle and can testify that this one really is beneficial overall. I get a necessary amount of sleep at night (remember: I’m not a lover of sleep) and I get more done by day. When I plan a byphasic day, I usually start writing right after I wake up from the nap and I can definitely feel a difference when I’m writing without having taken a nap that day. It improves the quantity of things I get done, but most importantly it vastly improves the quality of the things I do. This is specifically referring to ‘my own stuff’ like writing or reading, but it also enhances my relationships as I listen and interact better and I am more aware of what’s going on around me.
As for the other cycles, I think I might give the other ones a try some day, just to have it tried out but would only consider the Everyman Cycle as one that I might actually live by.
If you are interested in learning more about the advantages and disadvantages on each cycle or just want to know how to bring more quality and quantity to your day with less sleep, go to http://www.polyphasicsociety.com/.