What are the risks of polyphasic sleep?
Q: As sleep experts, you may have heard about polyphasic sleep. I’ve already read about it, but, I would like to know the most probable risk of taking that sleep schedule. I’m planning to use Zeo to track my sleep in my try for a more efficient sleep.
A: Possible long-term risks of polyphasic sleep include learning difficulties and changes in metabolism, due to reductions in sleep phases which are crucial to bodily renewal, memory processing, and weight maintenance. Some polyphasic experimenters have also mentioned falling asleep at erratic times, which suggests that you may not want to drive long distances or operate machinery.
The whole idea behind the polyphasic lifestyle is to make sleep more “efficient” by cutting out Light Sleep. This is largely based on the erroneous concept that Light Sleep is not as important as Deep or REM sleep. In addition, many are motivated by the potential of more waking hours so they can get more done and live more efficiently.
There’s little research on the long-term effects of polyphasic sleeping, including the risks. It’s important to remember that sleep deprivation is considered to be a torture method, which may have contributed to the limited amount of long-term research and scientific studies.
Possible dangers of long-term polyphasic sleeping include learning difficulties and changes in metabolism, as these are what generally suffer as a result of sleep deprivation. This is apparent in a reduction in Deep Sleep and Light Sleep, both of which are crucial to bodily renewal, memory processing, and weight maintenance. Some polyphasic experimenters have also mentioned falling asleep at erratic times, which suggests that you may not want to drive long distances or operate machinery when testing this sleep style.
In general, most humans opt for polyphasic sleeping only in dire situations. Polyphasic sleeping generally comes with guard duty, trench warfare, and other stressful situations that demand constant alertness. Once the danger period is over, humans revert back to monophasic or bi-phasic sleep.
Not all polyphasic sleep schedules are the same; there’s a big difference between the Uberman schedule of 4 hours a night and a more moderate schedule. Still, this style of sleeping is tailored to lifestyle than a notion that one is sleeping inefficiently.
- What is “Sleep Efficiency”?
- Is it possible to reduce the amount of sleep I need every night?
- In a sleep-restricted environment, what kinds of sleep suffer and what’s the best way to cope?
- Sleep Stage Goals: How Do I Know What to Strive For?
Erikson CA, et al. Sleepiness and sleep in a simulated “six hours on/six hours off” sea watch system, Chronobiology international 23 no 6 (2006):1193-1202
Porcú, S et al. Sleep and alertness during alternating monophasic and ployphasic rest-activity cycles. International journal of Neuroscience 95 no 1-2 (1998): 43-50.
Stampi, Claudio. Polyphasic sleep strategies improve prolonged sustained performance: A field study on 99 sailors, Work & Sleep, Vol 3, Issue 1, 1989: 41-55
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