How to Follow a Polyphase Sleep Pattern (with Pictures)

Table of contents:

How to Follow a Polyphase Sleep Pattern (with Pictures)
How to Follow a Polyphase Sleep Pattern (with Pictures)

Polyphase sleep patterns are alternative sleep patterns. In traditional sleep patterns, humans sleep for eight or nine hours at a time per night (monophase sleep). A person who adopts a polyphase sleep pattern will sleep several times in small segments in a 24-hour cycle. The end result is: periods of more frequent sleep, but fewer hours of sleep than the usual eight to nine hours of sleep. Adopters of the polyphase sleep pattern claim that they can do whatever they want when they are released from sleep. This type of sleep pattern can not be adopted by everyone. There are sleep experts who state that the polyphase sleep pattern is a deliberate lack of sleep; however, some polyphase sleep methods are used by the military, endurance athletes and people who enjoy sports.


Part 1 of 4: Managing Your Night's Sleep

Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 1
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 1

Step 1. Choose a method

When starting to adopt a polyphase sleep pattern, you will need to determine a method, based on your goals, the flexibility of your schedule, and your body's overall sleep needs. There are four known methods of polyphase sleep.

  • The four polyphase sleep patterns are biphase sleep, Everyman pattern, Dymaxion method, and Uberman method.
  • Two of the four sleep patterns, biphase sleep and the Everyman pattern, include long sleep segments during the night.
  • If you're a beginner, it might be a good idea to start with a pattern that includes a long night's sleep. Your body should adapt slowly to avoid problems related to sleep deprivation.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 2
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 2

Step 2. Consider a biphase sleep schedule

In this sleep pattern, you basically divide sleep into two scheduled segments. Usually one long segment at night, followed by a 20 to 30 minute nap schedule, or 90 minutes, in the early morning hours. This sleep pattern is found in many cultures around the world, and this biphasic sleep pattern may actually be a healthy sleep pattern.

  • Shorter nap times serve as a refreshing nap and help you get past the natural decline in performance that occurs in the early afternoon. Longer nap times are useful for completing one of your sleep cycles, including REM sleep.
  • The pattern of circadian rhythms and the release of chemical hormones that help sleep are also more in line with biphase sleep patterns, with the longest sleeping hours at night.
  • This sleep pattern is recorded in history as the first sleep and the second sleep. Before there were electric lights, people would go to bed a few hours after nightfall, then wake up, do activities, then go back to sleep around dawn when the sky started to lighten.
  • However, the biphase sleep pattern may not be considered a polyphase sleep pattern for people who really want to reduce their sleep time because this method does not significantly reduce the number of hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 3
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 3

Step 3. Create your own biphase sleep pattern

Depending on your goal amount of sleep, schedule flexibility, and your body's sleep needs, a biphase sleep pattern may be beneficial for you.

  • Determine the two time segments during the 24-hour cycle that you want to sleep in. Spend a fair amount of REM sleep in each time segment. Most people need five to six periods of REM sleep over a 24-hour period.
  • A normal sleep cycle, including REM sleep, takes 90 minutes. Create a sleep schedule that accommodates this 90-minute cycle, and divide it into two sleep-hour segments.
  • For example, maybe you have a core sleep from 1am to 4:30am, then go back to sleep of 1.5 to 3 hours from 12pm to 13:30 or 3pm. Set this time according to the flexibility of your schedule.
  • While getting used to this new schedule, reduce your sleep time slowly (if there's no problem, of course).
  • Always leave at least 3 hours apart before going back to sleep.
  • Don't sleep too much, and don't sleep too early. Set yourself on this new schedule for at least a week before making any changes.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 4
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 4

Step 4. Follow the Everyman method

Included in this method is a core sleep for three hours plus a nap for 3 x 20 minutes. This is a good starting point for polyphase sleep beginners because the largest segment of sleep is still at night, as you may be used to before.

  • Create your target schedule. Determine the most appropriate time for a core sleep of three hours, based on your schedule. People generally choose between 1:00 to 4:00 am or 23 to 2 am.
  • Keeping in mind the timing of the core sleep segments, schedule your 20-minute naps.
  • Leave a gap of at least 3 hours between each nap segment.
  • For example, if your core sleep schedule is from 1:00 a.m. to 4 a.m., your 20-minute nap is at 9:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m., and then your core sleep is back at 1:00 a.m.
  • If your core sleep schedule is from 23:00 to 2:00 a.m., your naps are at 7:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 5
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 5

Step 5. Follow your new schedule slowly

Follow this schedule for at least one week. Extend this time if you feel you need some time to get used to it. After that, you can start breaking down those 5 hours of total sleep into three distinct sleep segments.

  • Get used to core sleep for 4 hours, then reduce your naps to 2x30 minutes per cycle. If you work in an office, check in at 9am and leave at 5pm, schedule your bedtime during your lunch break and right after you get home, if possible.
  • Get used to this bedtime for one week. Extend if you feel you need more time to get used to it.
  • At the start of the third week, or perhaps a week after, add one more nap, reducing the time needed for naps as well as the number of core sleeps.
  • In the end, you get 3.5 hours of sleep, plus three 20-minute naps, at certain points throughout the day.
  • Set these core sleep hours and nap hours according to your schedule.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 6
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 6

Step 6. Get used to your new sleep schedule

Follow your schedule regularly and strictly, try not to oversleep, and get up on time. Try to fight the urge to go back to sleep for a few more minutes, either during a core sleep or a nap.

  • Don't worry too much if a problem arises. If you're stressed, you'll find it hard to fall asleep quickly when you need every minute of sleep.
  • If you use the Everyman sleep pattern, stick to your core bedtime and afternoon naps. Plan ahead.
  • Plan what you want to do in your free time. Chances are that other people around you aren't doing things on the same schedule. You have to determine everything you want and prepare a list of things you want to do. Do the things you really want to do, but never have the time. This will make it easier for you to accept your new sleep schedule.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 7
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 7

Step 7. Follow the Everyman sleep method as needed

The schedule people are most familiar with is the core sleep segment followed by three naps. This schedule can be changed and added according to personal schedule needs.

  • There are also other schedules that are still included in the Everyman method.
  • For example, on one of your other schedules you get 1.5 hours of core sleep, with 4 to 5 x 20 minute naps at equal intervals throughout a 24-hour period.

Part 2 of 4: Eliminating Core Sleep Segments

Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 8
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 8

Step 1. Get to know Uberman and Dymaxion sleep schedules

With both methods, you don't need a core sleep segment every night. If you've tried Everyman's method successfully and want to try an even more extreme sleep method (without core sleep), try both of these methods. You will sleep for two hours, which is timed over the course of the day.

  • Both methods are very inflexible and you need to follow them as strictly as possible.
  • Before you use either method, carefully consider school, work, and family schedules.
  • Both the Uberman and Dymaxion methods take about 2 hours to sleep, in a 24-hour period.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 9
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 9

Step 2. Follow Uberman's sleep schedule

In Uberman's polyphasic sleep schedule, you sleep in six 20-minute sleep periods, performed at regular intervals of six hours. This sleep pattern does require the ability to strictly follow the structure of a sleep schedule.

  • For example, sleep for 20 minutes at 1:00, 5:00, 9:00 am, and 13:00, 5:00, and 9:00 pm.
  • While trying this sleep schedule, you should never reduce the number of naps you take.
  • In Uberman's schedule, you sleep for 20 minutes every 4 hours.
  • If you're feeling extremely tired, having trouble keeping your concentration or focusing on the tasks you need to do, you need to immediately rethink your sleep schedule.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 10
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 10

Step 3. Consider a Dymaxion sleep schedule

In this sleep schedule, you also sleep for 2 hours in a 24-hour period, and the difficulty level may be the same as Uberman. In this schedule, you take fewer naps, but longer.

  • In the Dymaxion sleep pattern, you take a 30-minute nap every six hours.
  • In the Dymaxion sleep schedule, you get a total of two hours of sleep in one 24-hour period.
  • Possible Dymaxion sleep schedules are for example: a 30 minute nap, scheduled at 6:00 am, 12:00 pm, 18:00 pm, and 12:00 pm.
  • It is said that this sleep pattern was developed by Buckminster Fuller, a famous 20th century architect, writer, and inventor. It is also said that he finally canceled this sleeping pattern to spend more time with his family.

Part 3 of 4: Preparing for Polyphase Sleep

Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 11
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 11

Step 1. Get in the habit of napping

The main principle of polyphase sleep is to divide the hours of sleep into several times in one day. Once added, the sleep time you get will remain the same as normal sleep time. To keep this sleep pattern going, you really need to stick to a set sleep schedule, to benefit from every minute of sleep.

  • Teach yourself to take a nap. The trick is to wake up earlier in the morning, and give in to the sleepy feeling that usually comes during the day.
  • Avoid computer screens and bright lights for at least 15 minutes before you go to bed.
  • Go to bed at the same time every day, so your body can get used to this new routine.
  • When you lie down for a nap, focus your attention on lowering your heart rate. Count to 60 heartbeats, then listen for 60 heartbeats. Once your heart rate slows down, you can start trying to clear your mind.
  • Set an alarm, and don't sleep too long. Get up when the alarm rings.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 12
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 12

Step 2. Reduce your nighttime sleep

It's certainly not easy to go straight into polyphase sleep. You can make this process easier by reducing the number of hours you sleep each night.

  • Start by subtracting three hours per night from your regular nightly sleep schedule. If you usually sleep for eight hours, sleep for five hours.
  • Follow this new nightly sleep schedule for three days.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 13
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 13

Step 3. Set an alarm and stick to a new sleep schedule

You may feel sleep deprived during this early phase, but if you stick to a strict bedtime schedule and wake up at the right time, you'll get used to it faster.

  • Place your alarm slightly away from the bed, so you have to get up to turn it off.
  • Turn on the light immediately when you wake up.
  • If you have a lamp or alarm clock that looks like natural light, use that light source to help you wake up after each sleep segment.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 14
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 14

Step 4. Consider your other activities

While you are looking for the best sleeping method, think about work, school, family, worship, and exercise schedules so that you find the method that works best for you. Remember that you must strictly follow whatever sleep schedule you have chosen. Otherwise, this will all fail.

  • Also consider the fact that other people are likely not following your sleep schedule. Make sure you have the means and desire to match your schedule with close friends and family.
  • Don't forget about sports and unplanned events that may not be on your schedule. Make sure you're ready to let go of certain opportunities.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 15
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 15

Step 5. Pay attention to some key schedule factors

You may want to follow an existing sleep pattern, or adapt one of them to suit your needs. Whatever your choice, keep an eye on some of the key patterns that are important to your success in adopting a new sleep pattern.

  • Make sure your schedule includes at least 120 minutes of REM sleep every 24 hours.
  • Include at least 3 hours between each sleep segment.
  • Spread the sleep segments as evenly as possible over a 24-hour time period.
  • Determine the best time to take a nap. If you're not sure, determine the worst time to take a nap.
  • In scheduling core sleep segments, provide 90-minute blocks to accommodate REM sleep.

Part 4 of 4: Understanding Risk

Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 16
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 16

Step 1. Consult your doctor first

Adequate sleep is important for your health. Polyphase sleep has not been shown to be safe, and may actually be harmful, especially if other medical conditions are present.

  • If you have a medical problem or are taking strong medication, discuss your desire to change your sleep pattern with your doctor first.
  • You should have a clear plan for moving to a polyphase sleep pattern. Also have clear information about the potential benefits of the polyphase sleep method before discussing it with your doctor.
  • Since there isn't much scientific evidence that shows the health benefits or benefits of polyphase sleep, your doctor may advise against it. You must prepare yourself for this possibility.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 17
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 17

Step 2. Reconsider if problems arise

Before you start making changes to implementing a polyphase sleep schedule, you need to have a clear concept of the short- and long-term implications.

  • Many sleep experts think that polyphase sleep is a form of sleep deprivation. It's a good idea to explain your desire to a friend so he or she can help you notice changes that may be detrimental to you.
  • One very serious initial consideration is, you should pay attention to your ability to drive or operate machinery for the first few days and weeks of changing sleep times.
  • People who are sleep deprived have been recorded as driving drowsy, having accidents for themselves and others, and accidents at work for themselves and others.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 18
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 18

Step 3. Know the short-term problems you might face

Consider the possible short-term effects of sleep deprivation on all aspects of your life.

  • Lack of sleep can quickly lead to problems, including anxiety, dementia, limited memory, limited cognitive function, impaired concentration, difficulty focusing and doing tasks, and disrupted relationships.
  • Other problems associated with sleep deprivation are difficulty making decisions, punctuality, difficulty understanding things, recklessness, feeling irritable, and difficulty paying attention to other people while talking.
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 19
Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule Step 19

Step 4. Determine the long-term consequences of sleep deprivation

The scientific function of sleep is still not well understood, but many long-term risks of sleep deprivation have been identified.

  • Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart problems, stroke, obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, and reduced life expectancy.
  • You can also develop psychological problems, such as depression and mood disorders.
  • Another problem is the disturbance in the quality of sleep of the partner and the disturbance in the quality of life in general.
  • If you're feeling tired, moody, irritable, unable to lead a normal life, or are experiencing symptoms related to sleep deprivation, you should rethink the pace of your transition or even your overall plans.
  • Consider that even a slight reduction in your sleep is a success. Of course, if your body still feels fresh.

Popular by topic