Last updated: November 23, 2018

What Does Polyphasic Mean?

Polyphasic refers to a sleep pattern characterized by short intervals of rest, typically ranging between twenty and thirty minutes, for a cumulative amount of four to six hours of sleep during normal circadian rhythm cycles. Sleep contributes to the biochemical functionality of the brain where alertness, concentration, and cognitive processing of information is important. Everyman, Uberman, and Dymaxion represent polyphasic sleep schedules that consist of periodic naps corresponding to each subset.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Polyphasic

A majority of the population follows a set sleep schedule where approximately eight hours of sleep represents the norm. However, sleep deprivation is a persistent issue for many people due to environmental circumstances and personal habits that stimulate bioelectric activity in the brain. Generally, the sleep phase cycle consist of either monophasic sleep patterns (eight-hour duration) or biphasic sleep patterns (two four-hour sleep cycles). Polyphasic sleep is gaining traction as it diminishes sleep time during regular circadian rhythm cycles on a twenty-four hour basis.

Many people adopt and follow polyphasic sleep patterns as a means to commit more time to personal and/or professional obligations, but evidence suggests that voluntary disruption of biorhythms can adversely influence health. Although the goal of polyphasic sleep is to improve productivity, individuals may be forfeiting the natural continuity of the sleep/wake cycle during nighttime hours. However, proponents of polyphasic sleep believe homeostatic adaptability occurs as the body enters rapid eye movement (REM) cycles at a quicker rate, replenishing energy levels and enhancing cognition.

Polyphasic sleep patterns carry potential epidemiological implications that can compromise long-term health, affecting the immune system and homeostatic balance of otherwise normal circadian rhythm cycles. A growing number of employers are introducing ergonomic measures that allow employees to take brief naps in order to streamline productivity. However, the medical community advises people to consult a doctor to determine a proper sleep hygiene routine.


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