Sleep can be more complex than you think. At first, it seems easy enough. Close your eyes, dream for 8 hours or so, then wake up. However, if you’re someone who has a complicated schedule, or is having a hard time getting those 8 hours of sleep, it can be complex.
Those who are struggling to get the right amount of sleep may look to biphasic and polyphasic sleep. In this post, we’ll compare the two and determine which one is better.
The word “biphasic” almost sounds alien until you realize that it’s a combination of two words. Bi, as you probably know, means two. Phasic, meanwhile, refers to a phase. Therefore, biphasic sleep is sleep in two phases.
Most adults are monophasic, which means they only sleep once a day in most circumstances. However, some people sleep in two parts, and this is biphasic sleep. This type of sleep is also known as bimodal, divided, diphasic, or segmented.
Someone who is biphasic may sleep for four hours at night, then later that afternoon, sleep for four more.
Biphasic and Productivity
Some people will turn to biphasic sleep schedules because they feel like it’s productive. For some, their biphasic life usually consists of one long sleep session, along with a shorter nap during the day. They may feel like this is the natural way to do things and look at babies and nature as an example.
Some people feel like the biphasic sleep schedule is beneficial for their productivity. For example, someone may sleep for six hours, which is enough for them to feel energetic throughout a chunk of the day. Then, as they start to drag a little, they take a power nap for half an hour, which can restore how they feel.
There is some truth to the idea that having a biphasic or polyphasic sleep schedule can be more natural. In fact, making most people work on a monophasic sleep schedule is something that’s relatively new as far as society is concerned. Before the modern 9-5 job, and even before the industrial period many people would sleep in shifts.
Obviously, just because people used to do something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s better. However, when people’s sleep patterns were artificially changed due to society, it makes the case that biphasic or polyphasic sleeping may be better.
The Benefits of Napping
With a Biphasic sleep schedule, naps are often involved. Napping is an activity that can have some benefits. As we mentioned before, the power nap, which is a nap under 30 minutes, can keep you alert and focused when you’re finished.
Longer naps, meanwhile, are a little more problematic. Someone who takes an hour-long nap may be in a deeper sleep and wake up from it feeling groggy and worse than before. Those who take longer naps may have a hard time sleeping at night, too.
Polyphasic is when you sleep for more than two times every day. For example, someone may have four two hour naps throughout the day. For some people, their schedule requires them to do so. Others may be naturally more towards this. In fact, polyphasic sleep is found in nature quite a lot. Think about how many times your cat sleeps every day!
While both of these can come naturally, these two can be the result of a sleep disorder as well. Let’s say you have insomnia and only get four hours of sleep. You may take an extra nap during the day to try to catch up.
The World of Polyphasic Sleep
Polyphasic sleepers are people who sleep over two times every day. Some people may sleep up to 6 times! There are four main types of polyphasic sleepers. These include:
The Balanced Man
This is a person who gets the right amount of sleep, but they may split it into different parts. For example, they may have four two-hour naps that they space throughout the day.
The everyman has a main sleep session that is three hours. Then, they take three or so 20 minute power naps through their day. This may be someone who has a tough job and can’t afford to get sleep for too long. So they sleep for four hours, which is normally not that good. However, if you space it out, it feels like you’ve slept longer.
This is someone who takes six or so power naps. They get about a total of three hours of sleep every day. Someone who is working around the clock and who can’t properly sleep for a long time may turn to six power naps throughout the day.
For extreme workers, this is someone who power naps for 30 minutes every six hours. Therefore, they get only two hours of sleep a day. Some people are busy 22 hours a day, and really can only afford two hours to get some rest. People like this need a medal!
Biphasic or Polyphasic?
With that said, you may be wondering which is better, bi or poly? Or, should you stick with mono?
Honestly, there is no straight hour. Some people may like bi for being able to sleep for a long time, then adding a short nap in there. Others may find that taking small naps throughout the day can keep them at their most productive. It all depends on who you are, your job, and other factors.
We say that you should experiment if you’re able to. If you’ve haven’t had the best sleeping in the world, it may be because you’re not sleeping the way you were programmed. If you have some time, try experimenting.
Getting the Most Out of Your Nap
Before we go, if you’re trying to get some napping in, here are some ways you can have the best nap possible.
- First, make sure your bedroom is clean. Try to rearrange your bedroom to feel as comfortable as possible.
- Sleep in a dark room. If you’re on the job, bring a sleeping mask. If you’re at home but are trying to nap during the day, have some blackout curtains.
- Sleep in a quiet place or use some white noise.
- Avoid looking at any electronics before bedtime.
- Obviously, avoid caffeine.
- Do a few stretches. Some light exercise may help you go to bed easier.
- Have a timer so you don’t nap for too long.
- Mastering the power nap can take some time. Even if you can’t fall asleep right away, just enjoy the peace and relaxation. You’ll soon adjust.
Therapy Can Help
If you live a hectic life where you can only afford to sleep for so long, it can have an impact on your mind. However, you may not have the time to see a therapist in person. That’s why online therapy can help. Therapy can also help if you’re having a difficult time getting to bed.
The takeaway is that everyone sleeps differently and needs a different amount of sleep. If one style of sleep doesn’t work for you, why not experiment a little and see which works the best?