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Polyphasic Sleep: more free time with less sleep

We are all aware that we spend a third of our life sleeping, which is the average of eight hours of sleep per day. But what if we can decrease the number of sleeping hours and thus increase the waking hours, and still operate with the same and even more mental alertness and energy level. We can then use the extra time to study, finish our work, learn a new musical instrument, and accomplish endless opportunities that we used to dream of doing only if we had more time. Is is possible to do that?

The answer is yes. It’s called Polyphasic Sleep. I thought of introducing this concept since not too many people have heard of it. The term was first introduced in the early 20th century by the psychologist J.S. Szymanski. It refers to the practice of sleeping multiple times in a 24-hour period totaling an average of 3 hours of sleep per day. Most people are monophasic (having one block of sleep), while a big - yet decreasing - number of people are biphasic (having one block of sleep with an added nap). Hence, polyphasic sleeping occurs when people use multiple (more than two) ultra-short naps during the day. Polyphasic sleepers gain the most of their sleep time, while coming out from their naps in a highly alert state.

There are many patterns of polyphasic sleep such as Everyman, Uberman, and Dymaxion. They basically differ in the amount and duration of the naps. Everyman consists of a core nap of no more than 3 hours, with three short naps of 20 minutes. Uberman sleep consists of 20 minute naps every four hours, round the clock. Dymaxion pattern, which was advocated by the famous architect and inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller in the 1940s, consists of 30 minute naps every six hours, round the clock.

There are claims that Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and many others used to be polyphasic sleepers, but they lack documentation. With the recent introduction of Blogs into the internet, many people have started to log their experiments with polyphasic sleep. From those logs, a lot of people quit the first couple of days because they found it hard to adapt. But those who bypassed the adaptation period, which is usually from a week to a month, said that they became highly energetic and alert, and enjoyed it to the extent that they did’t want to go back to monophasic sleep. The only reason that made most of them quit was because the world uses the monophasic pattern, and it was hard for them to cooperate and work with other people.

More information about this topic can be found on Wikipedia.
An extensive log of a polyphasic sleeper can be found on Steve Pavlina’s blog.
The archive article about Fuller’s Dymaxion Sleep, dating back from October 11th 1943, can be found on the Time Magazine website.
An up-to-date list of current polyphasic sleepers can be found on Jorel’s blog.

Comparison of sleep patterns - Jorel on Wikipedia

Comparison of sleep patterns - Jorel on Wikipedia

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Comment from K.line
Time February 9, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Personnellement, je trouve ca excellent de pouvoir y arriver! (surtout moi et mon temps qui passe vite)
Ca permet de pouvoir faire plein de choses qu’on aimerait faire seuls au calme : peindre, ecrire etc.
Pour ceux qui l’ont déjà testé, ca n’affeblit pas le corps, on ne tombe pas plus malade que les autres etc.

Mais comme je l’ai lu sur le blog de Pavlina : comme toutes les autres personnes autour de nous sont encore en monophasique, ca “decalle” la personne polyphasique de tout autour d’elle. Apparemment c’est la seule raison qui déclenche le retour des gens au monophasique!
Donc allez on s’y met tous! Comme ca tout le monde est content et sur le meme longueur d’onde! ;p

Comment from jorel314
Time February 20, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Thanks for the link! And I hope you’ll give polyphasic sleep a try…

Comment from admin
Time February 20, 2009 at 5:18 PM


It’s good to see you around!

I have tried out the Uberman sleep pattern, but overslept on the third day! So I think it ruined everything. I might try out polyphasic sleep again but with a different sleep pattern, more probably the Everyman, because I believe it’s more “socially compatible” with the monophasic world.

Whenever I succeed in doing it I’ll make sure to let you know so that you put me on your list :)

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