Almost all of us do all of our sleeping during one period of time each day. But is that really the best way? Biphasic sleep is simply the idea of breaking the sleep period up into 2 distinct and separate time periods.
Some studies suggest that humans will naturally adopt this style of sleeping when they’re deprived of clocks and external time cues like the sun. But is biphasic sleep a viable alternative for you? Let’s take a look.
You might already be a biphasic sleeper without even knowing it!
Biphasic sleep typically involves:
- A core sleep period of 3 – 4.5 hours
- A secondary sleep period of 90 minutes. Many people affectionately refer to this period of sleep as a “nap.” The 90-minute time frame is important because most people have a sleep cycle of 90 minutes. A quick catnap is not the same thing.
Your greatest challenge is likely to be fitting the nap into your schedule. Ideally, you could nap when you’re most tired. This seems to be in the afternoon for many of us. Think about how tired you feel at around 3:00 every afternoon at work. Unfortunately, having a nap then won’t work if you’re at your job.
Instead, either just before or after dinner is the most common time for working people to schedule their biphasic nap.
The benefits of biphasic sleep include the following:
- Reduced total time spent sleeping. Biphasic sleepers can commonly get down to 4.5 total hours of sleep without being tired. A couple extra hours of free time could be put to good use!
- Improved quality of sleep. Biphasic sleepers report that their sleep quality is deeper and better.
- More dream recall. For those who like to analyze their dreams, these decreased periods of sleep appear to improve recall of dreams.
The only known disadvantage is interacting with non-biphasic sleepers. Your significant other, your children, or your boss may not appreciate you disappearing to take a 90-minute nap.
Starting a biphasic sleep program is easy. Simply take a nap for 90 minutes in the early evening and then go to bed three to four hours later than normal. Expect that you’ll be tired for the first week. Commonly, 21-28 days are required to really evaluate if biphasic sleep is for you.
Some questions to ask yourself after the trial period:
- “How do I feel?” Are you tired all the time or do you feel refreshed?
- “How is my productivity?” Are you holding your own at work? How’s your performance relative to before the experiment? How’s your activity level around the house?
- “How is this change affecting my life?” Does biphasic sleep fit well with your lifestyle or is it causing challenges?
If you’re using the extra time to your advantage and there haven’t been any negative consequences, then congratulations! Many people, however, find that biphasic sleep creates challenges with family life. If that’s the case, you’ll need to determine how severe the issues are and how important biphasic sleep is to you.
Biphasic sleep can reduce the time you spend sleeping and also improve the quality of your sleep. While this lifestyle isn’t convenient for everyone’s schedule, it may be worth a trial run for three to four weeks. You’ll know whether or not it’s working for you. And if biphasic sleep does work for you, imagine what you might accomplish with all those extra hours!