For those of you unfamiliar with polyphasic sleep, it is a schedule that requires only 3 hours of sleep each day, taken in half-hour naps every four hours. This is in contrast to the so-called monophasic sleep schedule that has most of us spend eight or nine continuous hours each night in bed.
Naturally, the transition to polyphasic sleep can be quite a shock for people who have spent their entire lives sleeping through the night. And Steve has done us the service of finding out just what it entails in a series of blog posts:
To make the long story short, it sounds like the the change is difficult, but once you get past the hump it is possible to feel as alert and well-rested with only 3 hours of sleep each day as you might with eight to nine hours.
I find the idea of gaining an extra 5-6 hours a day very tempting, although I wonder what the long-term health risks might be.
A while ago, I blogged about a story in New Scientist where scientists had identified the “sleep” gene in fruitflies, allowing them to cut their sleeping time by 30%. The last line of the story reads, “There is a snag, though, since the lifespan of [the genetically manipulated fruitflies that slept 30% less] was about 30% shorter than normal.”
I wonder whether polyphasic sleep has the same trade-off. And if it does, is that enough reason not to try it.