Is polyphasic sleep for you?

I have been toying with the idea of trying polyphasic sleep. The promise is less sleep overall, with few ill-effects from the added time. By taking brief naps at regular intervals, one can supposedly cut out 2-5 hours of sleep time. More time for work! I know, it sounds too good to be true. But is it? The military finds soldiers having to stay awake for hours on end, and they have researched this quite a bit. I’ve not seen their conclusions (I would think they’re top secret or something), but I have followed the efforts of a couple of polyphasic sleep bloggers.

I was first introduced to polyphasic sleep by Steve Pavlina’s blog. Steve has done a great job of chronicling his own efforts, and has a wealth of info on his site (see the links at the bottom of his post). Unfortunately, like most of the polyphasic sleepers I’ve read of, Steve went back to the monophasic, sleep-at-night schedule we all hold dear. Another blogger, xeeban, may have the reason: it’s tough to be a polyphasic sleeper in a monophonic world. Think about daily routines, and how disruptive it is to have to nap every couple of hours.
Ultimately, with two small children, polyphasic probably isn’t for me. I am more likely to become a biphasic sleeper. Essentially that’s just taking a nap, Dagwood-style, to split up the day. Using software like Pzizz to generate custom “nap music,” I could take a 15-30 minute nap around 2pm every day. Apparently Winston Churchill took hour-long power naps– which I will certainly try once both kids are in school. The key to mastering any sleep schedule is regularity though, so after a couple of weeks, I’ll report back on my progress.

Why the fascination with sleep? Long ago I read the book Wide Awake at 3 A.M., and it had a profound effect on me. I do find myself run down over time if I don’t sleep enough, but overtired if I sleep too much. Sleeping just the right amount is optimal, but all too often I am sleep-deprived. I get used to it, and slog through, trying to find the right balance. While I’d love to have another 5 hours to get things done, is it worth the social cost? Are any of you polyphasic?

Author by Victor Agreda, Jr.