Polyphasic Sleep: The Answer to Wanting More Hours in a Day?

Imagine if you suddenly found that you had a 28-hour day.  Think how productive you would be!  That’s the idea behind “Polyphasic Sleep”.  It’s changing (or “hacking”) your sleep schedule so that you’re in bed less and have more time for work or play.  The question is … does it work?

Before we get any further into this article, we’ll answer the question.  For the overwhelming majority of people, it’s a “no”.

Polyphasic Sleep is touted by a blogger and author who calls herself “Puredoxyk”.  She has been tinkering with her schedule for nearly 15 years, and her system breaks sleep into multiple parts during the day.  She has developed several Polyphasic Sleep schedules, including the Uberman (six 20 minute naps each day) and the Everyman (three hours of sleep plus three 20 minute naps per day).

We learned about Polyphasic Sleep from Arielle Pardes, who blogged about her experiences testing the Everyman schedule.  Pardes consulted with a sleep specialist before beginning, and was told that it wouldn’t work.  It didn’t.  While she felt incredibly productive for the first day or so, by the end of her test she was unable to think straight.  By day three her eyes were puffy and bloodshot, and she looked and felt exhausted.  On day seven she fell asleep on the couch and awoke later without knowing where she was, how she got there, or what she’d done earlier in the morning.  She ended her experiment on day eight by sleeping for 15 hours.  This is the result that nearly all of us would see from trying out Polyphasic Sleep.

In the end, you can’t change your sleep schedule any more than you can change your need to eat.  Your body needs seven to nine hours of rest per day to perform a number of critical restorative tasks, and without that time your body starts to break down.  Science has proven that there are the very, very rare people who can function on just a few hours of sleep per night, and it’s most likely that Puredoxyk is one of those people.  The rest of us couldn’t handle the elimination of half of our sleep without exhaustion and significant health problems.  Here’s what Pardes had to say on Twitter about her experience:

For more information on splitting your sleep schedule, check out our article on whether there’s a difference between splitting your full night’s sleep into parts or doing it all at once.