What is PolyPhasic Sleep
What is it?
PolyPhasic Sleep, or PPS for short, is the practice of sleeping more than once, and generally more than twice, in a twenty-four hour period. It is a method of sleeping designed to increase sleep efficiency by spreading the hours of time spent asleep throughout the day. For example, sleeping for thirty minutes every six hours is a form of PolyPhasic Sleep (specifically referred to as the Dymaxion cycle).
What are the advantages of PolyPhasic Sleep?
The hypothesis pertaining to PPS is that as one sleeps for less time, one has more “efficient” sleep. Now this “effiecient” status is quite controversial. Our sleep cycles are characterized by a large period of nREM sleep, or dreamless sleep (although dreamless is not entirely accurate), and a period of REM sleep consisting of vivid dreams. Generally, one would have four to six sleep cycles in a normal night’s worth of sleep. As one goes through each cycle the period of REM sleep becomes longer and longer.
What is controversial about PolyPhasic Sleep is that it claims to remove the “wasted sleeping time” that consists of the long nREM sleep period. PolyPhasic Sleep shortens the sleeping time to the point where the body skips the majority of nREM sleep in an effort to compensate for the minimized sleeping time, thus making sleep more “efficient”.
PPS reduces the amount of sleep necessary to be rested, thus allowing one to have a larger amount of waking hours. Obviously this has the benefits of more time available for the sleeper, be it used for business or pleasure.
Another, more subtle, benefit would be that the sleeping periods are nearly entirely REM (depending on the variant of PolyPhasic Sleep). For the dream enthusiast this is great news. People who have slept polyphasically have reported extremely vivid dreams, and some have reported spontaneous lucid dreams. This is because REM sleep, the stage of sleep most associated with dreams, happens almost instantly.
Things to Consider
PolyPhasic Sleep is not for everyone. There is a major risk of sleep deprivation involved. Since one is reducing the amount of time spent asleep, the body has to adapt. During this adaptation period a person can enter a state that is referred to as being a “zombie”. This is because one will struggle to even think as the sleep deprivation worsens. This period is more prominent in some variants of PolyPhasic sleep than in others.
The “zombie” period occurs during the body’s period of acclimation. The sleep deprivation sets in, and, depending on the lifestyle of the sleeper, this could be an extremely difficult period. Prior to adaptation the body still expects to get a large, uninterrupted period of sleep. Because of this, when the sleeper awakes he or she has gotten very little REM sleep, which, due to the importance of REM sleep, is what leads to the period of thoughtlessness.
Also necessary to implement a PolyPhasic Sleep pattern is a very flexible schedule. One will need to be able to sleep at precisely the same times everyday in order to speed the adaptation period. Due to the “zombification” one may be unable to work or do much other than sit around if it is very extreme. This requires the aforementioned flexible schedule. One will need a flexible schedule to continue working, studying, or anything of the sort.
The length of the acclimation period differs from person to person. Dependent on how diligent one is with his or her schedule will greatly affect how long it takes for one to adapt. One out of place nap could easily reset the period so a strict schedule is important. This being said, once the acclimation period has passed the gains would far outweigh the costs in more available time.
Another thought one should pay attention to is that the majority of the world will not be changing schedules with you. One may decide to adapt to a PPS cycle, but the rest of the world will most likely remain monophasic or biphasic. Because of this you will find that your sleep times may conflict with your social or work life. It is important to recall the need for a flexible schedule.
The Methods / Variants
There are many kinds of “methods” or variants of PolyPhasic Sleep. They are quite efficiently categorized by this excerpt from Wikipedia, but here is a short overview of the more well-known variants:
While not exactly "Poly"Phasic Sleep, the Biphasic sleep cycle is the easiest and most common form of PPS. It requires the least amount of modification for the average person to adapt to, and is the basis for the “Siesta”.
Average Hours Spent Asleep: 6.5
Number of Sleep Cycles: 2
The next step up is the Everyman sleep cycle. This one has many variants of its own, but generally consists of a single large sleep episode and several smaller nap-like sleep episodes.
Average Hours Spent Asleep: 4.5
Number of Sleep Cycles: 4
One of the most demanding of the PPS sleep cycles. The Dymaxion sleep cycle is characterized by four equally spaced sleep cycles. Each cycle lasts for 30 minutes.
Average Hours Spent Asleep: 2
Number of Sleep Cycles: 4
Very similar to the Dymaxion sleep cycle. The Uberman sleep cycle consists of six, twenty minute naps which are taken every four hours. Along with the Dymaxion cycle, it is considered the most “sleep efficient” of the many PolyPhasic sleep variants.
Average Hours Spent Asleep: 2
Number of Sleep Cycles: 6
About The Variants
The above listed methods or “variants of PolyPhasic Sleep” are not the only ones out there. In fact, any sleep pattern in which one sleeps more than one time every twenty-four hours is considered PPS. This means that anyone can craft their own unique variant though that could be difficult task.
The variants tend to be equally spaced for the extreme PPS methods. The less extreme methods like Everyman tend to have a single large sleep cycle and several smaller nap like cycles. Still, the sleeper is free to customize these however he or she wish, though he or she should keep in mind that discipline and a rigid structure are necessary for success.
LD4All PPS Roots
The LD4All Forums have seen some, but not much PolyPhasic Sleep activity. Here are some highlights:
PolyPhasic Sleep! Lucid Lab
This lab was conducted by me, Scipio Xaos, in an effort to collect some more information from the general LD4All public that could be considered primary in source. Overall there was little participation in the experiment (only four people!), but the logs located in the main topic, the report thread, and the support thread all contain a valuable insight into the acclimation process and period for the curious and interested. One should probably take at least the following from the threads:
[*]Polyphasic sleep is difficult! Be prepared to be vigilant or you will fail.
[list]Many of us who participated in the experiment had trouble attaining a PPS schedule because we were not ready to commit fully or we had things preventing our due diligence.[/:m]
Polyphasic sleep requires structure! You must be disciplined in your sleep schedule.
Those of us who started to get somewhere definitely maintained a strict schedule while those who lagged behind or had difficulty adjusting did not.[/:m]
Polyphasic sleep will interfere with the average human life! Your schedule will need to be completely revamped.
When we were starting to adjust to our respective cycles we began to have noticeable conflicts with our sleep schedules and the demands of everyday life. I particularly had to navigate mine around attending college classes.[/:m]
Polyphasic sleep can yield rewards! Should you get there, increased REM time, and heightened vividity and lucidity are possible.
Those of us who managed to get mostly adjusted reported increased dream detail and easier lucidity due to the increase in REM sleep.[/*:m][/list:u]
Other than this quick overview it is highly recommended that those considering PPS read through those threads to get an idea of what he or she is getting his or herself into. This is not meant to scare potential experimenters away, but merely to inform them with a personal recount of the ups and downs of PolyPhasic Sleep.
The Thread that led to this Article
The post that led to the creation of this article can be found here. Here you can read and discuss about the possible links between PolyPhasic Sleep and Lucid Dreaming.
PolyPhasic Sleep - Gradual Adjustment Method
This thread written by me covers an idea pertaining to a “Gradual Adjustment” to the Dymaxion PolyPhasic Sleep variant. This slow change could easily be adapted to any of the PPS methods though it would be more appropriate for the extreme variants. Despite it ending early (partly due to how I felt and partly due to social pressures) the slow change appeared to be successful.
An Active Thread Pertaining to the Uberman Method
This thread includes a very detailed discussion about the Uberman Sleep schedule. It could be useful for those looking to try the Uberman PPS variant.
This list will most likely become out of date quite quickly. Should you wish to view more forum based information regarding PPS a simple forum search will provide quite a few links.
A PolyPhasic Sleeper’s Opinion on PolyPhasic Sleep
Though I have attempted PPS twice (each time the Dymaxion sleep variant) and haven’t successfully adapted either time, I believe that I have had enough experience with PPS to give some accurate, yet slightly biased, opinions on the subject.
PPS is a wonderful thing. It offers a different viewpoint on how we spend our time. Each time I attempted to adapt to the cycle I was presented with a massive amount of spare time. I was able to work longer on projects thanks to the additional hours. This kind of increase was the most noticeable aspect of my attempts.
I should note, though, that I am somewhat introverted in nature. The social interactions I do have are often out of necessity and not of choice. Because of this the imposing sleep schedule didn’t affect me as much. Now I’m not saying the extrovert can’t adapt to PPS. I am merely saying that part of my partial success may be due to my limited social life.
Each attempt I gave resulted in me getting further than I had been before. Therefore, I advise that if you try to sleep polyfasically you don’t give up after one attempt. My previous attempt was not the first, and will not be the last. Each time I try I make a little more progress and learn a little more about the nature of sleep.
In conclusion I would like to note that like all of the mysterious wonders worth having, PolyPhasic Sleep is a difficult, but achievable goal. It is unmarked territory. The truth, something we always strive for, is not completely known about PPS. There is no certainty with what effects will befall those who attempt PPS so I advise those who wish to try it to be cautious, be ready, and, most importantly of all, enjoy it. Otherwise, what’s the point?
[color=#e4ecee]~~~~~[/color] ~ Scipio Xaos
Some PolyPhasic Sleep External References
Steve Pavlina’s PolyPhasic Sleep Experiment
This blog recorded by Steve Pavlina documents his PolyPhasic Sleep Experiment. It documents his thoughts and feelings during his over four month long experiment in which he successfully adapted to the Uberman sleep variant. It is perhaps the largest recorded PPS experiment and is, in his words, “a treasure trove of free information for anyone interested in learning about my trial of polyphasic sleep.”
This article on the most popular wiki ever details PPS quite well. It also includes its own listing of further reading and external links that may be of more help than the LD4All forums could provide.
Lastly if you’re in need of even more information that has not been listed here and you can’t seem to find what you need… Here. Let me Google that for you.