What Are Dual-Core Sleep Cycles?
Disclosure: By clicking on the product links in this article, Mattress Nerd may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read full disclosure statement.
Nothing beats the feeling of waking up and feeling rested and ready to take the day head-on. To achieve that, doctors say that you should get a recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Some people attempt a type of biphasic sleep schedule to allow for more time awake, but it isn’t without costs. If the idea of having more hours each day without sacrificing your quality of sleep sounds enticing to you, then a dual-core sleep schedule could be for you.
What is a Dual-Core Sleep Schedule?
Before we go into more detail on dual-core sleep schedules, let’s first get some terms out of the way.
A biphasic sleep schedule is when you have two sleep cores or segments, usually one during the nighttime followed by a midday nap. In contrast, a monophasic sleep schedule is when you only have one sleep period for the entire day, and a polyphasic sleep schedule is when you have more than two.
As you’ve probably guessed, most people are monophasic sleepers. But in some parts of the world, a biphasic sleep schedule is common practice. This practice is commonly referred to as “siesta” time and is popular in some European countries like Spain, Italy, and Germany. Even before the modern era, a biphasic sleep schedule was common.
A dual-core sleep schedule is a type of biphasic or segmented sleep schedule that consists of two sleep cores — usually one before dusk and one before dawn — and a 20-minute afternoon nap.
Here’s an example of what a dual-core sleep schedule would look like:
- Sleep: 9:30 p.m. to 12:50 a.m.
- Awake: 12:50 a.m. to 5:50 a.m.
- Sleep: 5:50 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.
- Awake: 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
- Sleep: 2:00 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.
This sleep schedule is the standard variant of dual-core sleep known as Dual-Core 1 (DC1). This variant covers five hours and 20 minutes of sleep.
Though still adjustable, your dusk sleep core should come around 9 to 10 p.m. and your dawn core around 6 to 7 p.m. for maximum effectivity. As for the nap, having one during the early noon is ideal.
There are other dual-core sleep variants depending on the length of cores and how many naps it contains. Take note that adding more naps increases the difficulty as shorter sleeping periods can often lead to feeling groggy or sleep drunk. As such, DC1 is considered to be the most beginner-friendly schedule.
Note that this sleeping schedule is not for everyone and may not provide enough sleep. Always speak with your doctor before adjusting your sleep schedule.
How to Adapt to a Dual-Core Schedule
If you’re coming from a monophasic sleep schedule, it may be hard for you at first to adapt to dual-core sleep. However, if you’re the type of person who regularly wakes up in the middle of the night, you may have an easier time.
Nevertheless, there are many things you can do to ease into the transition. Here are some tips:
- Practice napping. A short nap or “power nap” is essential to a dual-core sleep schedule, so if you aren’t used to taking one, you should start now. Start with quick 10-minute naps and ramp it up to 20 minutes over time.
- Follow your sleep schedule to the dot. As much as possible, sleep and wake up at the designated time. It may be hard for you to follow your sleep schedule at first, but practice makes it a routine for your body to follow.
- Avoid using electronics before sleep. Specifically, avoid exposing yourself to artificial light before sleep. Studies say that artificial light exposure disrupts our sleep-wake cycle, which makes it hard for us to fall asleep sometimes. Try limiting your TV, phone, and laptop usage at least an hour before sleep time.
- Make yourself comfy. This may be a bit obvious, but how comfy you are affects how fast and easily you fall asleep. From the room temperature to the type of pillow or mattress you use, a lot of things have a hand in whether you get a good night’s rest or not. Look for a nice, quiet, and dark place to rest your head and you’ll soon be on your way to slumberland.
Dual-core sleepers often say that the hardest period is the first week since it’s the period when your body is still adapting to a new sleep schedule. Around this time, people say they experienced grogginess and fatigue, especially during the core gaps.
Benefits and Risks of Dual-Core Sleep Schedules
Many dual-core sleepers swear by the benefits they’ve reaped from switching sleep schedules. Some do it to have more time for their family, while others do it to be more focused and alert at work.
However, some sleep researchers are still split about whether dual-core sleeping offers more benefits than a regular monophasic sleep schedule. If you’re thinking of trying out a dual-core sleep setup, it’s important to recognize both the benefits and risks of making the switch.
Benefits of Dual-Core Sleeping
Here are some of the potential benefits of dual-core sleeping:
- Increased productivity
- Increased memory retention
- Increased waking hours for activities
- Allows for more complex or flexible schedules
- Lower stress and anxiety levels
- Improved dream recall
- Increased chance of lucid dreaming
Risks of Dual-Core Sleeping
On the other hand, here are dual-core sleeping’s potential risks:
- Grogginess or sleep drunkenness
- Sleepiness during daytime
- Sleep deprivation
- Increased health risks (obesity, cardiac diseases, etc.)
- Disruption of natural circadian rhythm
As mentioned, definitely speak with your doctor before attempting to adapt to this kind of alternative sleep schedule.
Dual-core sleeping is a variation of the biphasic or segmented sleep schedule that offers the benefits of biphasic sleeping but with a reduced number of sleeping hours. Though the potential benefits may be enticing for some, know that dual-core sleep is not for everyone.
This could be because of certain work schedules, daytime responsibilities, health complications, and other factors that may make it hard for someone to make the switch. But with a bit of practice and a lot of patience, you may soon be reaping the rewards of dual-core sleeping.
Power Naps: Benefits and How to Do It. (2021).https://health.clevelandclinic.org/power-naps/
Should You Try Polyphasic Sleep? (2022). https://health.clevelandclinic.org/polyphasic-sleep/
Ekirch AR. (2016). Segmented sleep in preindustrial societies. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26888454/
Hirshkowitz M. et al. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: Methodology and results summary [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073412/
Lunsford-Avery JR, et al. (2018). Validation of the sleep regularity index in older adults and associations with cardiometabolic risk. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30242174/
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2021). Sleep deprivation and deficiency. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
Tracy S. (2020).“I Can’t Sleep… Can You Turn off the Lights?” https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2020/i-cant-sleep-can-you-turn-off-the-lights/
Weaver MD, et al. (2021). Adverse Impact of Polyphasic Sleep Patterns in Humans: Report of the National Sleep Foundation Sleep Timing and Variability Consensus Panel.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721821000309
ARTICLES ON POLYPHASIC SLEEPING
- Polyphasic Sleep
- Common Myths About Polyphasic Sleep
- How to Change Your Sleep Habits for the Better
- Regulating Your Sleep Temperature with the BedJet System — Does it Work?
- Sleep During Pregnancy
- Preemptive Power Nap
Common Myths About Polyphasic Sleep
Learn more about the common myths surrounding polyphasic sleep.