Polyphasic Sleep Cycles-What Are They?

The majority of people in our society today suffer from a lack of sleep. Many people are having to work extra hours in order to keep up with financial budgets and life in general. As well as that, there is the consensus that the more you stay awake, the more productive you are going to be. People are walking a tightrope everyday trying to squeeze the most out of every daylight hour, but the reality is there is only going to be a set number of hours in each day and like a domino when you push your waking hours beyond what’s recommended the effects will be felt further down the line.

Polyphasic Sleep Cycles
A Polyphasic Sleep Cycle Isn’t About Cycling A Bike While Asleep! It’s a Special Type Of Sleep Routine Involving Short Sleep Bursts!

With that in mind, in order to improve our sleep it is worthwhile to understand better how it actually works. So let’s go on now and discuss this topic of polyphasic sleep cycles further. This concept of polyphasic sleep may be new to you and if it is then that’s great, you may be able to put its theory to practical use after learning more about it.

So what are polyphasic sleep cycles? Well, we’ve generally grown up with one basic concept of sleep; that being that we sleep at night, and work during the day. But a group of people has over the last number of years defied this theory. Most average adults, require about 8 hours of sleep, essentially no less than seven and no more than nine. What if we told you that you don’t need to sleep all night at all?

Imagine your brain as a car parked in your parking lot. Let’s say you are a taxi driver. You work all day and all night, and your car has about one to two hours of rest in between. That doesn’t mean the car won’t work effectively when you use your car the next time around. That is what we refer to as Polyphasic sleep cycles.

There are generally three different types of sleep pattern that exist today;

1. Monophasic sleep cycles

This is the one that most of us fall into. Monophasic sleep is where you take about 8 hours of sleep every night and stay awake for the rest of the day. It’s the most common sleep pattern and adopted by most communities around the world.

However, most scientists have reason to believe that with the invention of electricity, more and more people are having problems maintaining this pattern of sleep. Electricity led to the development of bright lights, these lights including street lights etc. have been found to lower the levels of melatonin in the body. This in turn, can affect your sleep pattern and can cause negative impacts on our bodies.

2. Biphasic sleep cycles

Biphasic sleep is where you sleep twice for every twenty-four hours. This type of sleep pattern is very common in the Latin countries and Spain. Biphasic sleep is also referred to as siesta sleep. It involves sleeping at night and taking a short nap after lunch.

After lunch, your body is a bit sleepy anyways as your body begins to use its energy to digest the meal you have just eaten and you can easily fall asleep around this time. These short nap periods are usually about 30 minutes in duration. Anything longer than that, and it will be harder for you to wake up. If you do this right, then you will have a refreshing feeling afterwards which will allow you to continue working for the rest of the day, with a bit more of a spring in your step.

Some people opt to sleep for about one and a half hours which allows their body to go through the entire cycle of sleep. You can check out our post on the human sleep cycle which will enable you to learn more about the various stages of sleep.

3. Polyphasic sleep cycles

Polyphasic sleep cycles may be a new concept to you. This method of sleep involve sleeping for short bursts multiple times during a given period of time usually twenty four hours. It is aimed at increasing productivity even further. This is an alternative sleep cycle with a focus on getting more work done during your waking hours.

If you have ever heard someone say they will sleep when they die, it is more likely that they are following this type of sleep. It is more common to scientists since they follow the path of great minds like Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

With our busy schedules, it can be a bit difficult maintaining eight hours of sleep. For instant pilots need to be alert almost 20 hours a day. Others like military soldiers are required to be alert almost all the time when on duty. That is why this type of sleep can help them and indeed you to get the required amount of sleep and still maintain the normal functions of the body.

Since the Polyphasic sleep patterns are aimed at reducing your sleeping time and still maintaining your alertness, there is bound to be some side effects. So far, research done in this sector is not sufficient but let’s take a look at the effects of reducing your sleep time generally. That will more or less be the same as practicing Polyphasic sleep cycles.

Effects of reduced sleep time on your body

If you don’t have a well-calibrated sleep time, you may have some side effects in the long run. Some of the possible effects include;

1. Sleepiness

Using the Polyphasic sleep cycle, means you don’t get to achieve that deep sleep. That means you might end up falling asleep at the wrong time. For instance, imagine driving and then your eyes start to get drowsy. Considering the fact that you sleep quite easily, you will instantly end up in a deep sleep which will almost certainly result in an accident.

That is why, if you plan to use Polyphasic sleep cycle you need to have a well laid out plan on when you should sleep and when your active hours are going to be.

2. Slow days

Scientists have reason to believe that lack of enough sleep can hurt your cognitive capabilities. The first thing is that lack of enough sleep will impair your judgment. It also affects your problem solving skills and concentration during your active hours.

Logically, Polyphasic sleep cycles are designed to increase your reasoning and concentration in every active hour you have. However, this is done while reducing the total amount of time you sleep overall.

When reducing the time you sleep, you should always be careful not to harm the hours you are awake. You should also note that Polyphasic sleep doesn’t work for everyone. Therefore, you will have to consult with your doctor before starting a program of this nature.

3. Health complications

We all know that a lack of sleep can have adverse side effects on your body. Some of the health complications include;

  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure

Therefore, it is imperative that we achieve the required amount of sleep. The Polyphasic sleep cycle is something that reduces the effects of lack of sleep. However, the biggest problem is that this effect can manifest in some individuals.

That is why you need to be careful when practicing the Polyphasic sleep cycle and how it will help you in the long term. The main aim of a Polyphasic sleep cycle is in reducing sleep while still maintaining the physical and mental health of a normal person.

4. Lack of sleep will eventually kill your sex drive

The fact that you are always tired will lead to a decreased libido which mostly affects women. That is because they suffer from exhaustion, depleted energy, sleepiness and increased levels of tension.

Men also suffer from reduced levels of testosterone which in turn leads to low libido. For the sake of your relationship, sleep might be a key feature in your lifestyle. When it comes to Polyphasic sleep cycles, you are rarely tired since the total amount of sleep combined leads to the required amount overall. That is to say, if you are practicing this type of sleep, you are likely not to suffer from reduced libido.

5. Forgetfulness

If you really want to keep your memory sharp, then a good night’s sleep will do the trick. Polyphasic sleep cycles give you the required amount of sleep, so it is good for a creative mind. Scientists also believe that a Polyphasic sleep cycle causes sparks of creativity and increased cognitive reasoning above that of monophasic sleep patterns.

6. Loss of sleep causes weight gain

Lack of enough sleep causes an increased sense of hunger. That can cause obesity in the long term from hunger cravings and overeating. Research has shown that individuals who sleep less than six hours a night have fewer chances of suffering from obesity.

7. Lack of sleep leads to death

Most people who cut short their sleep time are more prone to suffer from heart-related diseases which are fatal.

8. Lack of sleep leads to snoring

Lack of sleep mainly relates to snoring. You may be suffering from loss of sleep due to snoring which will complicate your life even further. Snoring is not just another sound produced when you are asleep. It can be an indicator of an even larger complication known as Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea causes low levels of oxygen in your body which combined with lack of sleep can result in severe health conditions. If you experience difficulty when asleep, or you have constant waking up periods to clear your throat, daytime sleepiness and shortness of breath, you are likely to suffer from this condition. Sleep Apnea can be fatal but luckily there are various treatment for both snoring and Sleep Apnea. You can check out our posts for various solutions on both snoring and Sleep Apnea. It is also necessary for you to note that one of the major symptoms of Sleep Apnea is snoring but snoring doesn’t necessarily mean you have sleep Apnea.

That is why both snoring and sleep Apnea have very different treatments which have been proven to work. All in all, both conditions affect your sleep hence you will lack enough sleep.

Are Polyphasic sleep cycles beneficial to my body?

One of the reasons why Polyphasic sleep cycles were invented was to make the most out of your waking hours. This was to be done without having any effect on your body. However, there is not enough data to support this claim.

Therefore, it’s not advisable for you to try this type of sleep method without first consulting a sleep specialist or other qualified expert. In the long run, sleep can eventually win out and your routine will then revert back again. Once the routine changes, you are back again to your default sleeping cycle.

Having a lack of enough sleep will eventually have a toll on your body. With this type of sleep cycle, your body can pile up its problems and in the end, you end up in a worse situation. For instance cognitive impairment and all the other side effects of lack of enough sleep. Lack of enough sleep can also result in imbalances in your hormones leading to loss of appetite and changes in blood sugar levels for some people.

Polyphasic sleep cycles work by changing your sleep cycle which lets you end up in the REM sleep the instant you close your eyes. This type of sleep pattern might have other side effect since the other sleep patterns may have an important contribution to your general health overall.

There is a reason why we go through the normal sleep pattern routine. Additionally, when you decide to make changes in your sleep pattern and interfere with your normal sleep schedule, there is bound to be some side effects. Those side effects will affect your physiological functions that are controlled or influenced by your regular sleep pattern. The result may also have an effect on your metabolic and endocrine functions.

All in all, if you choose to follow this type of sleep pattern for one reason or another, you should consult with your doctor. You should also try to it the right way. Here are a few ideas that will help you get started with Polyphasic sleep cycles.

How to start utilizing Polyphasic sleep cycles

If you are planning to start this routine sleep cycles, you better have a very good reason why you are considering a change. Not just to watch movies and stay up late for the fun of it. Remember sleep is a fundamental necessity and is incredibly important to health and wellbeing and it should be given due respect. Here is some important thing to consider in order to start utilising polyphasic sleep cycles;

  1. Start teaching your body how to take short naps; you can start by training your body some of the basic sleep hygiene; for instance low light exposure before sleep, meditations, how you can naturally influence melatonin levels and so on.
  2. Reduce your sleep time; you can practice by reducing the hours you sleep. Most times, your sleep time reduces when you are very busy.
  3. Set your wake time that is earlier than your previous one; once you set the alarm, try to wake up immediately without any constant snoozing.

That will help you get started on your Polyphasic sleep cycles. This type of sleep pattern works best for entrepreneurs, writers and anyone who needs a boost in their creativity and who has flexibility in their daily lives, i.e. not working a nine to five job.

It is also worth noting that, if you are doing activities that require you to strain your muscles or if your hobbies or work is physically demanding, this type of sleep might not work for you. For instance, if you are a bodybuilder, the constant lifting of weights causes tiny tears in your tissues. Therefore, you will require more sleep time to help your tissues heal.

Final verdict

It is evident that Polyphasic sleep cycles might work for certain people. While it is still not fully verified, you need to be careful if you decide to settle for or indeed adapt to this type of sleep. More importantly, you will have to educate yourself on the human sleep cycle first and understand its important role in the function of your body. If the idea of polyphasic sleep cycles still interests you then we recommend seeking out more information and educating yourself first perhaps using specific books, research material, videos and even booking an appointment with a sleep specialist to understand more fully the benefits and risks associated with its use.

Check out our other posts on our blog and join the Snorefocus Forum if you have a recomendation or question you need answered regarding sleep and snoring related topics!