As briefly mentioned in my introductory post, I have decided to shift my sleeping schedule from a monophasic to a biphasic one. In layman’s terms, this is switching from having one long period of sleep per 24 hours, to having two shorter periods, which cumulatively amount to less. Ultimately this means that I’ll have more hours awake each day, allowing me to Learn, Grow and Become!
The idea behind this is that, once having gone through the initial transition period (from mono to bi) of about a week or two, the quality of sleep increases dramatically with the amount of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep staying constant despite the decrease in the total hours of sleep. In adult humans 20-25% of total sleep is believed to be REM sleep, which accounts for about 2 hours of our total sleeping time. Therefore, by adjusting my sleeping pattern to increase the percentage of sleep spent in the REM phase, I can reduce the amount of sleep I need. Here comes the theory behind these revolutionary sleeping patterns…
From what I can make out, when we are extremely tired, and thus have been deprived of REM sleep, our body makes many more attempts than usual whilst asleep to enter this phase. As a result, the percentage of sleep we have in the REM state increases, and thus we experience a higher quality of sleep. Biphasic sleep relies on this very principle. During the first week or so a biphasic sleeper can expect to feel tired and drowsy, but as the body becomes deprived of REM sleep, its starts to essentially extract more REM sleep from general sleep, making for a more efficient sleep.
Reasons Behind My Monophasic/Biphasic Shift
There are a number of reasons I’ve decided to give this biphasic business a whirl. For one, many people have reported feeling really full of life whilst partaking in it. They claim to be refreshed after each sleep and as a result, tend to be far more productive throughout the day. I, for one, have real trouble getting out of bed each morning, and when I finally do get up, I feel pretty dead for an hour or two (even with a good ol’ caffeine boost). If this schedule can help relieve me of my early morning drowsiness who am I to turn my back on it? To add to this idea about productivity, I reason that the more awake hours I have each day, the more time there is to be productive. An extra 4 hours awake (on average) per day would give me over a whole day extra each week to plan world domination. Additionally, to gain the benefits of being an early riser and a night owl is, as they say, never bad.
Biphasic vs Polyphasic
In terms of choosing biphasic over polyphasic, I just think it seems a hell of a lot more natural. Maybe it’s just my conditioned mind playing tricks on me, but 6×20 minute naps a day just seems a bit…well…weird. To add to this, I’ve read from a number of sources that humans naturally have 2 periods of sleep over a 24 hour period, hence explaining the siesta phenomenon in certain countries. Because of the way society works, people have learnt to accommodate the 9-5 lifestyle by sleeping monophasically (a number of historians argue that certain accounts from the past suggest various communities of people experienced two periods of sleep a day (often a 4 hour sleep, followed by a few hours awake, and then another 4 hours), and so it seems that sleeping biphasically is a perfectly natural (and more efficient may I add) alternative to the modern day norm.
I have a number of concerns about the experiment which I hope will be short lived. For one, when reading about other polyphasic sleeping patterns (more extreme versions of my biphasic pattern where people have typically had between 4-6 naps a day) some people mention experiencing poor memory recall. My memory recall isn’t great at the best of times, so I’m hoping I don’t suffer from this side effect. In addition to this, I’m a bit of a gym monkey, and don’t want lack of sleep to affect my muscle growth. From what I understand, REM sleep is the main time that such development occurs, so I theorise that there should be very little effect on my gains. Another thing that I’ve considered is that being awake 3 more hours per day (at least) means I’m going to be burning off a fair few more calories than usual. In response to this I’m considering a number of diet adjustments, one of which is the Gallon of Milk a Day (GOMAD) Diet which will help give me a healthy surplus of calories required for my gym bulk (I’ll discuss this in another post).
My Proposed Schedule
At the moment I sleep at least 8 hours a day (usually more (I’m a student)), usually from about 01:00 – 09:00. Under this Biphasic schedule I am going to change this to a 4 hour sleep between 02:00 – 06:00 and then a further 1 hour nap from 18:00 – 19:00, thus changing from a total sleep time of 8+ hours to 5.
Truth be told, I started this sleeping schedule last night (had to start on a Monday!) and so am currently experiencing the effects of my 4 hour sleep in its full effect. I feel pretty good right now, been studying up a little this morning, done some other reading, and have done a little writing (its only 10:00!) but it’s only day one so who knows how things’ll go. I look forward to seeing what the upcoming days and weeks bring me – I’ll post updates as and when anything interesting occurs i.e. when I die of sleep deprivation!
All the best,
The Bant Merchant