Biphasic sleep is a sleep pattern in which a person sleeps in two independent segments each day. For example, sleeping during the night for a period and then taking a nap during the day. Most people can be described as ‘monophasic sleepers,’ which means they rest for just one segment per day. Interestingly enough, biphasic sleep patterns naturally manifest in some individuals. Some people even chose to follow a biphasic sleep schdule because they feel it makes them more productive and alert.
What does this biphasic sleep cycle look like in real life? Here are two examples.
Short nap: This involves sleeping around 6 hours each night, with a 20-minute nap in the middle of the day.
Long nap: A person sleeps around 5 hours each night, with about a 1 to 1.5-hour nap in the middle of the day.
Award-winning science writer Jessa Gamble argues that if artificial light would magically disappear from modern society, we would all sleep twice every night. People would be going to bed around 8:00 p.m. until midnight and then again, sleeping from about 2:00 a.m. until the sun comes up. And in-between, we would enjoy meditative quiet in bed. Subjects in studies that have followed this sleep schedule have reported feeling very alert during the daytime, some even realized true wakefulness for the first time ever.
We’re living in a busy world where shift work, jet lag, and a lack of high-quality sleep are all real things impacting us and our sleep cycle. Gamble believes that our modern ways of doing things have their advantages, but come at a very high cost.
Watch Gamble’s insightful presentation about the natural sleep cycle below!
Biphasic schedules may not work for everyone and research is lacking when it comes to the benefits or drawbacks of this type of sleep pattern. If you would like to experiment with biphasic sleep, talk to your doctor first. Messing with your sleep schedule could backfire and lead to sleep deprivation or other sleep-related issues.
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