[NetBehaviour] Polyphasic sleep

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Sun Oct 23 15:29:47 CEST 2005

Polyphasic sleep

Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress 
sleep time to 2–5 hours daily. This is achieved by spreading out sleep 
into short naps of around 20–45 minutes throughout the day. This allows 
for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

The method uses natural human sleep mechanisms to maximize alertness 
when sleep time needs to be minimized. However, it requires a rigid 
schedule which makes it unfeasible for most people. It can work well for 
people who cannot afford sleep (e.g. sailors).

The theory is that ordinary monophasic sleep consists of many phases, 
only a few of which are needed for survival. REM sleep, occurring quite 
late in the sequence, is commonly believed to be one such necessary 
phase. It is believed that after being deprived of sleep during an 
adjustment period, the brain will start to enter the required stages 
much quicker - with the result that each short nap consists almost 
solely of REM sleep. Some theories of sleep suggest that REM is largely 
responsible for the mental rejuvenation effects of sleep, but the role 
of REM sleep has in recent years been disputed. It has been documented 
that depriving rats of REM sleep specifically leads to death in 3 to 8 
weeks (which doesn't happen with depriving test animals of other 
specific sleep phases), but it has also been documented that humans 
survive without REM sleep. Since polyphasic sleepers get a lot of Stage 
4 NREM and REM sleep, they may achieve higher alertness levels than 
those who do not know the art of catnapping.



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