Have you ever wondered about healthy sleep cycles? Well it turns out there are many more sleep cycles than the typical 8 hours a day Americans practice. This is actually called the monophasic sleep cycle. There are 5 total sleep cycles as recognized by experts, and these all fall under the category of polyphasic sleep cycles. This means that the body sleeps for more than one period per day.
HighExistence.Com explains (a really cool website if you have some time to waste):
“How is this possible? How is this healthy? Well the most important of every sleep cycle is the Stage 5 REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which has been shown to provide the benefits of sleep to the brain above all other stages of sleep. When changing over to a polyphasic cycle, the lack of sleep tricks the body into entering REM sleep immediately instead of 45 to 75 minutes into sleep like in the monophasic sleep. This way, you still get the benefits of 8 hours of sleep without wasting all of the time it takes to get to REM cycles, resulting in a much more efficient sleep cycle.“
The Uberman Cycle consists of 20-30 minute naps every 4 hours. This is considered the second best sleep cycle in terms of efficiency, but in practical terms it is near impossible to manage in our lifestyle.
The Everyman Cycle consists of one “core” sleeping period, supplemented by 3 shorter naps throughout the day. This can consist of any combination of sleep, totaling in around 4 hours per day. For example: 2 hours of sleep supplemented by 3 20 minute naps.
The Dymaxion Sleep Cycle is the most intense, but reportedly by those who have tried it the most efficient and more invigorating. It consists of 4 half hour naps every 6 hours.
The Biphasic or “Siesta” Cycle is cleverly described as this:
“Not even worthy of a diagram, the biphasic cycle is basically that of every college student in America. The biphasic cycle consists of sleeping for 4-4.5 hours at night, and then taking a 90 minute nap around noon. So not all that different, still more efficient than monophasic, but not by much.”
Did you hear that fellow collegiates? We are slightly more efficient than our parents who go to sleep right after the evening news. Ha! Pretty fitting as for some reason I am up writing this at 5:39 A.M., and school is out for summer. I’m nuts.
P.S. – Something that is also interesting – I remember reading Bill Clinton’s biography a couple of years ago, and he was, and I believe still is, a polyphasic sleeper. I think that he slept 2-3 hours a night, and napped 3 times throughout the day. …. Guess we can’t blame him for sleeping around, he just needed a place to crash…. 😀
P.P.S. – Baby HoHo (a sorority friend) introduced me to a website like this a few months ago and it is awesome! It is a sleep calculator, so that you can type in the time you want to wake up, and it will tell you when to go to bed. It also tells you when to wake up if you go to bed now to optimize your sleep cycles. Thank her!
P.P.S. – Don’t even get me started on the topic of dreams and their meanings/diagnosis.. that is so trippy!