Polyphasic Sleep

Schedule Design

By Nade

No matter what schedule you will design, there are some things to consider before making choices.

The BRAC Gap Rule

If periods of sleep are too close together, it seems that the body cannot distinguish between different periods of sleep and will act as though the two periods of sleep were one disturbed sleep. This means the ultradian rhythm becomes disturbed and that period is treated as a missed core sleep. Keep sleeps apart from each other at least for the length of your BRAC. This used to be the 2h Gap Rule, but for people with a 1.5h BRAC, they may better have a 1.5h Gap Rule.

3h Total Sleep Rule

It is regarded by sleep scientists that 90 minutes of SWS and 90 minutes of REM are the ideal amounts of sleep needed by a human adult. Any less than this and you begin to suffer traditional sleep deprivation. It may be that someone can reduce their sleep to less than this, but with this reduction comes many health risks that are linked to traditional sleep deprivation. These risks can include but are not limited to loss of focus (and accident), memory loss and brain dysfunction, insulin resistance (and thus diabetes and obesity), and a weakened immune system (leading to heart disease, increased cell toxin count and cancer). Uberman Sleep seems to be the best way to manage less than 3h total sleep; Uberman is not undoable long term, as there is evidence that higher frequency sleep also reduces the need for total sleep.

Mornings yield better REM than afternoons

REM sleep has a circadian rhythm with an acrophase around dawn and SWS has a circadian rhythm with an acrophase around dusk. Basically, sleep in the mornings between midnight and midday yield higher amounts of REM in healthy subjects, whilst sleep after midday and before midnight yield higher amounts of SWS.

You should aim to get a core sleep early in the night (between nightfall and midnight) to maximize SWS depth and quality, and then you may aim to have REM naps in the early mornings and around midday, forgoing naps in the night.

If you nap at night time and take a core sleep around dawn, eventually your circadian rhythm will phase shift toward early mornings, causing pre-dawn SWS, and morning tiredness if you do not get adequate morning REM naps.

Long Sleeps is different from a short sleep

Unpartitioned long periods of sleep (60+ minutes) allow for the body to get SWS, whilst shorter periods of sleep will generally aim to get LNREM and REM sleep. Athletes, for example, may benefit more from a schedule that has enough long sleep in the afternoons and pre-midnight, as GH secretion from SWS will be required for them to do their activities. Academics may benefit from trying to balance their schedule more toward frequent short periods of sleep in the early morning and before midday, as memory consolidation is associated more with REM.

Picking a Core Length

Searching on the internet, we found about as many variations of this graph as there were made.
Kazerniel collected data from 9 of the graphs and combined them into a meta-graph. This shows the average occurrences of REM according to the various graphs.

With this, it seems like that the following times are the most likely occurrences of REM for a monophasic sleeper:

1.25h – 1.75h, 3h – 3.5h, 4.5h – 5h, 6h – 6.75h

This has great application because waking up from the end of a REM stage is the easiest way to wake up. This is because the brain wave frequency most closely matches an awake state, compared to NREM which is sometimes significantly lower frequency.

These times will change as you change your sleeping patterns, or shift your circadian rhythm. This graph has the assumption that core sleep initiation starts before midnight, and the person wakes soon after dawn.

The 2-cycle core

It is fairly important for people to focus on the 2-cycle core because that is the most commonly practiced (and likely easiest) core length. Segmented Sleep, Dual Core and Everyman sleeping patterns all use the 2-cycle core as the basis for their schedules.

Older people are more likely to have a 2 cycle core length closer to 3h long, and younger people are more likely to have a 2-cycle core length closer to 4h long. Teens may have a 2-cycle core length that extends greater than 4h, which both follow the age-length trend and helps account for the extra sleep they need.

Comments (7)

  1. I’m just starting Polyphasic, so, I’m not sure if my schedule is sustainable, but, I thought I’d check here. The pattern I’ve chosen is:

    02.00 to 07.00 Core (4.5-5h)
    12.00 to 12.30 Nap (20-30m)
    17.30 to 18.00 Nap (20-30m)

    Total 310 to 360m (5h10m to 6h). The variance is to allow my sleep tracker the optimum time to wake me. Today, I woke up at 07.00 and felt fine, I’m going to give this a week or so to see if I can maintain the pattern. I’m trying this out because I have Delayed Sleep Phase issues, so, if I can sleep more efficiently, maybe I won’t need as much and I can sleep in less and be more productive. Wish me luck!

  2. Would it be beneficial to add a short (like 45min) nap at midday or maybe between noon and four, to a segmented sleep pattern if one “needs” more rest since our circadian rhythms have natural like desires to sleep or dips in energy or something around those times? Someone please help!

  3. In what ways have you altered your diet?

    I have a relative who had their thyroid removed, Graves Disease diagnosis. I am wondering what correlations, if any, might apply?

    Really happy to see you’re getting positive results from your new schedule!


  4. I have a question.

    Does anyone have any info. on how these different cycles might apply to someone with thyroid issues?


  5. I am desperately trying to standardize my sleep schedule around my kids and husband. I have been polyphasic fora few weeks. Currently dual core. I had been doing a highly modified schedule that didn’t completely for anywhere…3.5 core starting at 0200ish, a nap (when possible) 1.5 around 0700ish, and a 20 mic nap afternoon when and where possible. The maps were so elusive that I really got one. Despite that, had basically no adjustment period! My mind boggling positive results were almost immediate! I assume this has to do with my fibromyalgia and the huge, debilitating amounts of fatigue it causes,which is why I’m adopting a polyphasic sleep schedule anyway. Western medicine for fibro doesn’t really exist and it doesn’t address fatigue anyway,so I’ve altered my diet, regulated healthy circadian rhythm, and maximizing my sleep health all according to trial and error. I guess my question is, how dangerous is it for me to be doing my dual core sleep schedules and naps around the children changing schedules instead of in a standardized same time everyday type of way.?? And am i limiting my ability to get the right amounts of the sleep phases at this point I feel so much better that its hard for me to use trial and error to tell if I’m suffering any negative side effects

  6. “It is regarded by sleep scientists that 90 minutes of SWS and 90 minutes of REM are the ideal amounts of sleep needed by a human adult. ”
    Thank you! This is an extraordinary statement, and it’s very motivating to a noob.
    However, as Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, but a credible reference will satisfy me. Can you cite one? Thanks very much, and I apologize if the statement is documented elsewhere in these web pages.

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