Most of us sleep in a monophasic cycle, meaning, we only sleep once, for 6 to 8 hours at a stretch. However, animals follow a different sleeping pattern, which includes taking naps at regular intervals. This pattern is called polyphasic sleep pattern. The name itself suggests that the sleep requirement is fulfilled through many naps of short duration. Human babies also follow a similar sleep pattern, as they take many naps during a 24-hour span. However, as babies grow old, they lose their naps and become biphasic sleepers. Biphasic sleepers are those who sleep twice during a 24-hour span. Although, most westerners do not follow this sleeping pattern, this is much widely accepted sleeping pattern in many other countries.
Biphasic Sleep Cycle
☁ A siesta or a short nap in the early afternoon is a widely adopted form of biphasic sleep. However, this sleep cycle can be divided into two naps, each of varying or equal intervals, as per the person's convenience. Besides, sleepers do not necessarily need to take naps during the afternoon or at midday.
☁ If you are a monophasic sleeper with a total sleep time of 6 hours, then you can split it into two naps of 4 hours and 2 hours, respectively, when you decide to go for the biphasic sleep pattern. You can also split it into two intervals of 3 hours each.
Scheduling Your Sleep Pattern
☁ The concept of biphasic or polyphasic sleep came into existence after an extensive research on sleeping patterns was done. The research clearly indicated that mental health is improved to a great extent if you give rest to your brain after regular intervals.
☁ The longer you make your brain function, the more sluggish it becomes. This is the reason why monophasic sleepers feel tired and drained out by the end of the day. However, when you follow a biphasic sleep schedule you can nap in between to refresh your mind. You can set your own schedule as per your work time and other conveniences.
☁ People who work in a day shift of 9 to 5, can split their sleep between two naps, one a core sleep, which is to be taken post midnight and the other nap to be taken later in the evening. Thus a typical sleeping schedule for such people could be a core sleep from 2 am to 6.30 am and a nap post dinner, from 7 pm to 8.30 pm. Alternatively, you can also split it into equal intervals of 3 hours each, or more as per your individual sleep requirements.
There are numerous advantages of biphasic sleep pattern over monophasic sleep.
☁ It keeps you fresh and alert throughout the day, as your mind gets time to refresh itself. When you sleep, your mind deletes all short term memory storage, thereby making place for new information. Thus, your alertness, learning capacity increases manifold after a short 'power nap'. This invariably increases your productivity.
☁ Biphasic sleep allows you to sleep deeply with fewer REM sleep cycles. Besides, the total sleep requirement also reduces considerably, without any effect on your mental consciousness. Thus, if you require a minimum sleep of 8 hours in a monophasic schedule, you can do with a total of 6.5 or 7 hours of sleep when you follow a biphasic sleep schedule.
☁ Biphasic sleep pattern also allows you to be flexible in your sleeping schedule. Thus, you can take a nap early or delay it by hour or so. Missing it entirely is not recommended as it will leave you groggy.
One can try a biphasic sleep pattern for a month, and continue with it if they experience its benefits. If not, you can always go back to the monophasic sleep pattern as and when required.