If you're like most of the population, you probably sleep in what's called a "monophasic pattern," which means you do all your sleeping in one 7- to 8-hour chunk. But what would happen if you slept in shorter, naplike phases? I decided to find out:
Polyphasic sleeping is a method of sleeping where people get their rest in multiple phases throughout the day. So, in theory, they can function on less sleep.
One of the more controversial forms of polyphasic sleeping is the "Uberman schedule," where people sleep for six 20-minute naps throughout the day. This cuts their sleep time down to two hours.
But, since this schedule is one of the more extreme forms of polyphasic sleeping, I consulted a current polyphasic sleeper to figure out something more practical for me.
I decided to follow the same sleep schedule as Jackson, which is called the "Everyman." This schedule allows you 4.5 hours of sleep at night, and two 20-minute naps during the day. This means I will get a little over five hours of sleep a day.
Since I was a tad worried about messing with my body/health, I decided to consult Dr. Alon Avidan, a sleep specialist at UCLA.
The doctor warned me it wasn't a great idea, and said most people needed more sleep than that.
Day 1 and Day 2 were especially hard for me. By Day 2, it was hard to get the energy to work out or complete daily functions.
Dr. Avidan warned me of the short-term effects, like slower reaction time, memory problems, cognitive problems, lack of creativity, and increased irritability.
By Day 5, things started to get...weird.
I couldn't really focus and had a serious case of the giggles.
By Day 7, I couldn't handle it anymore and had to cave and get some extra sleep.
Overall, was it an experience I would recommend? Definitely not. Maybe for some people, who are genetically designed to sleep this way, it would work. But for the majority, a good 7–8 hours is where it's at.