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Monophasic to polyphasic sleep schedule: An alternative sleep pattern!

If there was a reliable way to reduce the amount you slept and live a more productive life, would you try it?

For many people around the world today, that question is a no-brainer. We live in a culture where people constantly under-appreciate the importance of sleep. We tell ourselves that we’ll sleep when we’re dead, or that sleep is just a waste of time. 

The chances are you’ve even allowed yourself to pull an all-nighter before when you’ve had a big test or presentation coming up. 

That’s the world that we live in. 

Although many of us can appreciate the benefits of a good night’s sleep, we’re constantly trying to cut down on the amount of rest that we need so that we can get more done, be more productive, or simply show off our endurance. 

Over the years, experts and sleep explorers have experimented with the idea of completely changing their sleeping cycles. There are endless alternative sleep schedule options available from proponents of the polyphasic sleep routine. 

But, is it really possible to learn how to change your sleep cycle, without putting your health at risk?

Could the best polyphasic sleep schedule be the answer to all of your sleep issues? Or is switching up your cycle just another way to take your insomnia to the next level?

Let’s find out. 

Choosing the best polyphasic sleep schedule

We’re all busy these days. 

Whether you’re building your own business, working on your career, or looking after a family, there’s likely to be a lot on your plate. It’s no wonder that we’re all trying to squeeze as much as we can out of every moment of the day. 

So, what if you could throw your 7-to-8 hours of recommended sleep out of the window, and replace it with something that was much more time-efficient? That’s the idea behind biphasic and polyphasic sleep. 

If you’re wondering how to change sleep schedule, then you’ve probably heard about these alternative patterns before.

Essentially, they work by breaking a single period of rest into segments of slumber that occur throughout a 24-hour period. 

Biphasic sleep works by dividing your sleep into two parts. You might get a long stretch of sleep overnight, lasting about 6 hours, then a 90 minute nap during the day. 

Alternatively, polyphasic sleep breaks slumber into multiple episodes throughout the day and night. 

The idea is that you bring together a bunch of chunks of rest throughout the day to make up the equivalent of a complete night’s rest.

Usually, you train your body to rely on fewer hours of slumber this way, so you can get by on just 4 or 5 hours a day, rather than nine. 

Some extreme polyphasic sleepers even cut down all the way to 2 hours of sleep per day. 

The best polyphasic sleep schedule isn’t carved in stone. In fact, there’s very little information out there on how to choose the pattern that’s right for you. 

That’s because most people create their own versions of polyphasic rest, based on principles like everyman or uberman sleeping. 

Since everyone is different, you can rarely rely on a single pattern to suit a wide audience of sleepers.

What’s more, since polyphasic sleeping has been around for quite some time now, countless researchers have delivered their own take on it throughout the years. 

Unfortunately, the evidence seems to highlight that no matter how much you try, some people will never be able to adapt to an alternative sleep schedule.

Unless you have a genetic propensity for sleeping less, then a polyphasic schedule may never add up to a full night’s rest. 

Tips on how to start polyphasic sleep

Ultimately, we can’t recommend that anyone should learn how to change sleep schedule without speaking to a doctor first.

Even if you think that you can nail a polyphasic routine because you barely sleep at night anyway, you should get medical approval. 

There are a lot of people out there who aren’t suited for polyphasic sleeping, including those with mental health problems. If you try changing your routine when you’re one of those people, then you risk seriously harming both your physical and mental health. 

Polyphasic sleep just isn’t recommended by most of the medical community. This particularly because most people will never be able to adapt from this style of sleep.

If you’re adamant you want to try this setup, the best thing you can do in most cases is work backwards from a monophasic to a biphasic sleep pattern. 

This could mean taking an hour out of your night-time sleep and using that hour to nap during the day. 

So, if you do happen to be one of the few people who can live with polyphasic sleeping, you could try using these tips to change your schedule:

Start slowly
Don’t try to switch from monophasic sleep to polyphasic sleep in one go. You can start by cutting around an hour or two from your monophasic habit. Then turn these into two naps throughout the day.

The naps should usually last about 20-30 minutes. If you’re achieving REM sleep (dreaming) during those naps, then you’ll know you’re getting the right quality of sleep in your shorter sleeping periods. 

Be careful with caffeine
You’ll need to be cautious with caffeine any time you’re learning how to change your sleep schedule. This is true even if you’re just adapting to a new work routine.

Morning coffee and energy drinks are rituals that a lot of us stick with. These doses of caffeine can really mess with your sleep cycle, however.

You shouldn’t be cutting down on caffeine completely if you’re used to drinking it every day — as that can lead to withdrawals.

Switching to a lightly caffeinated tea or some dark chocolate might be a good alternative. 

Try to wake up at the right time
Ideally, you want to wake up from both your core sleeps and your naps in polyphasic schedules at the right time.

This means that if you’re waking up feeling confused and groggy, you might need to give yourself five to ten minutes longer in dreamland.

The ideal time for anyone to wake up is just at the end of REM sleep.

If you’re in deep or slow-wave sleep, then you’re going to spend the rest of the day feeling terrible. Be patient, it can take a while to figure out exactly when you need to wake up. 

Endurance is key
If you’ve read our other articles about how to start polyphasic sleep, then you’ll know that it isn’t easy.

Teaching yourself how to purposefully deprive your body of sleep takes a lot of hard work and endurance. Most of the time, we’d say that it simply isn’t worth it.

However, if you’re committed to taking on this routine for a specific purpose, then you’ll need to have a lot of mental discipline.

Learn how to motivate yourself and keep your mood high throughout the day — even if you’re feeling exhausted. 

Meditate more often
Finally, learning how to meditate can really help when you’re cutting down on sleep. It gives your mind and body a chance to relax.

In some cases, it can feel like you’re moving into the very early stages of sleep during meditation, which can be crucial for consolidating your thoughts.

Adding some meditation sessions into your schedule as you switch to a polyphasic routine could help to make the whole experience less painful.

Speak to a doctor before using a polyphasic sleep calculator

The most important advice that we can give to anyone who wants to know how to change sleep schedule — is that you should always speak to a doctor first. 

It’s easy to forget that sleep is a crucial part of living a healthy life. If you fail to get enough rest each day, then you’re putting yourself at risk of some severe side effects. 

We’re not just talking about bags under your eyes and basic crankiness either. A lack of sleep can increase your chances of everything from heart failure to diabetes. 

What’s more, there’s very limited research into polyphasic sleeping patterns. These results indicate that they work best for people with a genetic predisposition to limited sleep patterns. 

In other words, there’s a gene in your body that can dictate whether you can survive on less sleep or not.

If you don’t have that gene, then no amount of diligence is going to allow you to feel good on less sleep than you need. 

All human beings have their own distinct biological clocks that help them to figure out how much rest they need to thrive. You can reset that clock, and learn how to use it more effectively, but you can’t just remove hours from it. 

That means that there are a lot of people in the world today who just won’t be able to use a polyphasic sleep schedule — no matter how hard they try. 

Speak to your doctor about whether it’s safe to start experimenting with your sleep strategies. They may recommend having a sleep study first to see if there’s a better option that they can recommend. 

Additionally, make sure that you do your research before you jump into anything. The more you learn about polyphasic sleep, the better armed you’ll be. 

Siestio. Sleep Matters.

Medical disclaimer
You must not rely on the information provided on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professionals. For more information read our full disclaimer here.

Medical Expert

Siestio is an evidence-based resource dedicated to sleep and wellbeing. Whether you’re affected directly or indirectly by sleep issues, we’re here to help. Because we believe sleep matters.

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