Polyphasic Sleep

Does anyone else here practice it? The longest I’ve gone is a little over 4 months on 2 hours per day. I’m starting a rotation of it tomorrow.

Not usually a good idea. I am a memory geek/sleep specialist. COnsolidated sleep is best for most humans.

Wow. Excellent! You would definitely be the man to talk to about this. I have a pretty specific schedule. I’ve read various research indicating many of the negatives, and I’ve tried to figure ways to work around them. Would you mind assessing what I’m doing?

Ok, so I’m working off of a uberman type sleep schedule with 20 minute sleep intervals every 4 hours. I use a binaural beat program running a little below 4hz for sleep induction. Subjectively it does seem to work, but I’m not sure if its because the beats are working or if its just function something like a pseudo zeitgeber.

So, previous I was successful in regulating my sleep but alas there is of course some cognitive side effects. I’m trying it again in the hopes of having the best of both worlds. What I’m doing now is dosing with 2.5mg of melatonin at 1200 and 1600. At 2000, I dose with 18mg of time release methylphenidate Hcl, and 200 mg of caffeine. The onset of caffeine seems to take around 20 minutes for me and I wake up feeling great. Caffeine has a duration of around 4 hours, so it works out fine so that I’m not too stimulated at 2400. I dim the lights or sit in a darkened room, and stretch for 20 minutes prior to sleep.

2400 dose with caffeine and a second 18mg of concerta. At 0400, caffeine only. 0800 sleep again.

So, after waking at 0800 I do one session of cardio, after 1600 I do a weightlifting type exercise to try to coincide with the body temp high. After midnight, I do pranayama, which is a type of breathing exercise.

I would love it if you would comment on what I’m doing, good or bad. Also, what affects do cholinergic drugs like donepezil have on sleep? If you happen to know that would be awesome.

Sleeping 20 minutes every 4 hours is what I understand you to be doing. One problem with this is that it might fit the ultradian schedule, but it puts you out of synch with the circadian zeitgebers. THis most important one of these is the sun coming up.

Why are you wanting to do this?

Isn’t it rather inconvenient?

Not very inconvenient because I have most of the Summer off work. I want to do it for the increased time that it provides, and I actually enjoy it. Yeah, in terms of zeitgebers I really want to make a sensory deprivation chamber.

It might not be that good for your health. One’s body temperature, cortisol and growth hormone are attached to a consolidated sleep cycle (the opposite of polyphasic sleep). Also in such brief naps you would not have time to get to deep slow wave sleep (not REM), also called delta sleep, Stages 3 and 4, or more recently N3 sleep. If you are very young you may get a little SWS. THe other issue is do you ever have time to get to REM sleep since It is circadian associated with the late morning sleep in persons who work or go to school during the day and sleep at night. So you might get REM deprived as well as SWS deprived. The latter is not good for your brain, and the former could affect your memory negatively. Furthermore the brain is sleepy at times it is used to sleeping, and is alert at times it is used to being awake, but with this polyphasic sleep schedule, the brain could be confused as to which state to be in even if your naps are at exactly the same times each day. Another issue is that of the “prior sleep effect” which basically it has been proven that we are not fully alert until being awake for a consecutive 60 minutes. I am trying to keep this reasonably short, but the healthiest thing to do is sleep at night consecutively for 6-9 hours, get exposed to early AM light and get up and go to bed at the same times 7 days a week.

BBC ran an article today titled: Fragmented Sleep ‘harms memory’. While it does not make any specific references to polyphasic sleep patterns, and the study used mice rather than people, I should think it is nonetheless worth taking into consideration as another potential risk.

Happy napping.

I tried this at various points. I went six months on this sleep pattern, and learned the hard way that you can adapt to a polyphasic sleep cycle, but the additional time in the day comes at a pretty drastic cost of performance, both mental and physical. I tested myself with trying to teach myself a programing language and doing sudoku puzzles while adapted to a polyphasic sleep cycle, and then again off of the cycle on eight hours a night. The difference was uncanny, things were a lot easier. Creativity, on the other hand, seems to be stronger on the polyphasic cycle. I drew and played music better for some reason. Couldn’t write for the life of me, though…

So, you can do it in certain situations which are necessary, or if you’re more of a right brain person, but for most people, I would say that the extra time you gain doesn’t outweigh the drop in performance.

Here’s a detailed guide to the Uberman schedule by PureDoxyk who is the inventor of the Uberman schedule I think.


She also has a youtube channel apparently with some vlogs about adapting to the Everyman schedule.


I got obsessed with this idea a year back. It seemed too good to be true and it kind of was. There aren’t any ‘real’ negative sides proven on the long term but people are saying that it’s bad because you just miss out on some important things you get while sleeping.

So I won’t experiment with it, but let’s be honest, it sounds fantastic.

I read this very interesting blog about a guy who is addapting to it Steve’s blog

Every human has different physiology, metabolism, and hormone secretion. (e.g. melatonin)

Some say we are monophasic, diphasic, or polyphasic species.

Some say we need 5, 6, 7, 8 or whatever number of sleep-hours.

But, I think ultimately it depends on the quality of sleep. Sometimes I sleep 6.5 hours and I feel tired for missing 1 hour of my schedule. But sometimes I nap for 3 hours and I am supercharged with full energy. I think it has to do with the sleep environment (dark and quiet) and also about the correct sleep cycles and the adequate REM cycle.

The best articles I found about sleep:
The first supermemo article is rather long (142466 words 858248 characters, almost a book) at least that’s what http://www.wordcounter.net says). But with a few speed-reading and minor skipping (1400wpm) you can finish that in less than 2 hours. It’s my fave article on sleep so far. I think it’s much more informative to spend 2 hours to read that article than watching a random movie for example.

I tried Uberman sleep two times already, but only for very short periods of time. Adaptation took around five days, which was enough to get into the state. It was an outstandig experience. Tiredness vanished completely, I felt euphoric and full of energy. Time slowed down. The last time I felt like that was in early childhood. For social and other reasons I returned to normal after just two or three days.

When I adapted for the second time, I also made some experiments with memory techniques. In fact they worked pretty well. My personal best in ML-Numbers (69 in 60s) happened when I was on Uberman!
On the other hand I had big trouble creating routes from my imagination. (I use this method to memorize book contents: Making loci from the informations that I read.) Usually I can recall most of them for several days even without repetitions. But when on Uberman, I forgot them within hours. I couldn’t even remember them when I read the text again. They were completely gone! Unfortunately I can’t tell if that effect lasts for longer periods on Uberman. Maybe it just takes some time to compensate sleep deprivation from the adaptation period.