📖Polyphasic Sleep: Facts and Myths

authors
Wozniak, Piotr
year
2005
url
https://www.supermemo.com/en/archives1990-2015/articles/polyphasic

As we move towards the knowledge economy, it is the alert and creative minds that provide the basis of success in most projects. One minute of insight can be worth a century of shoveling!

Dr Stampi has put one Francesco Jost through a diet of 3 hours of sleep for 2 months without measurable adverse effects. Yet, looking at other neuropathophysiological processes, we might worry that it might be possible to actually kill cells in nuclei responsible for the SWS switch, REM on switch, REM off switch, etc. We know that disregarding mental hygiene, depression, excessive cell activity, hypoxia, and other neural stresses can lead to cell loss. As long as this area remains gray, playing with once sleep schedule is tantamount to dicing with once long-term ability to effectively control sleep cycles. This might be not much different from dieting, once you put your appetite control centers out of service, you are sentenced to a lifelong struggle with diets and yo-yoing weight.

Stampi has shown that polyphasic sleep can improve cognitive performance in conditions of sleep deprivation as compared with monophasic sleep: “Individuals sleeping for 30 minutes every four hours, for a daily total of only 3 hours of sleep, performed better and were more alert, compared to when they had 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep. In other words, under conditions of dramatic sleep reduction, it is more efficient to recharge the sleep “battery” more often.” Many use this as the argument for the superiority of polyphasic sleep, while silently skirting around the fact that Stampi also notes that the performance on polyphasic schedule is still far less than that in free running sleep conditions.

Rumor has it that there were many geniuses who would sleep polyphasically. The implication is that if it worked for the greatest minds in history, it should also work for a young ambitious student with a voracious appetite to conquer the world. Yet on a closer inspection, those polyphasic stories are very hard to confirm. Somehow, the group does not include contemporary Nobel winners, presidents, or great athletes. In other words, you cannot just e-mail a celebrity and ask. All great polyphasic sleepers are dead.

To get a good night sleep, you need to combine two factors:

  • your body clock must be saying “time to sleep”
  • your hourglass of power must be saying “no more mental work”

If your sleepy potion tries to put you to sleep but your hourglass is full, you will be very groggy, tired, but you will not fall asleep.

If, on the other hand, you try to sleep without the sleepy potion while the hourglass of power is empty, you may succeed, but you will wake up very fast with your hourglass full again. That will make sleeping again nearly impossible.

There is only one major benefit of polyphasic sleep: polyphasic bloggers contribute to our understanding of sleep. No researcher could ethically subject that many individuals to the mental torture of polyphasic schedule.

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