Is Polyphasic Sleep The Right Move For Your Productivity In 2020?

Every person has a ritual or two that helps to push productivity levels higher. Sleep, for the rest that it offers, is one such ritual that boosts one’s productivity substantially. It is universally accepted that the more you sleep the higher your productivity levels grow.

Others believe that the influence of sleep is not so much on the quantity as it is on the quality of sleep that you get. In this regard, many would say that you could be more productive even if you sleep fewer hours.

That is what the devotees of polyphasic sleep exactly believe. They enjoy few hours of polyphasic sleep only to see their productivity shoot through the roof. Evidently, they then have more time to work, run their businesses, or pursue other areas of interest.

Polyphasic Sleep: What is it?

Unlike regular sleep, which is all about sleeping once for an extended period, polyphasic sleep involves sleeping briefly several times during the day and at night. It is the opposite of what almost everyone knows about sleep, which is monophasic sleep.

Those who practice it believe it leads to more Rapid Eye Movement (REM) in addition to slow-wave sleep. Remember, REM is a critical stage of sleep. Slow-wave sleep is the third and the deepest stage of regular sleep too.

Those who love polyphasic sleep, which essentially is all about spending less time sleeping, believe that you can get by with little sleep. What they mean here is your productivity, in whatever you do, will not suffer simply because you slept for short intervals.

To get a clear picture of this would require looking at all the five stages of sleep. The first stage is light and takes place a few minutes when you start sleeping. Stage two is relatively light and revolves around increased brain wave frequency. You can wake up easily in these two stages.

Deep sleep sets in during the third and fourth stages. At this point, the brain produces slow delta waves. At the fourth stage, the body embarks on critical restorative tasks. Examples of such tasks include:

  1. Boosting immune system
  2. Repairing muscle tissues
  3. Stimulating growth

REM sleep sets in around 90 minutes after you start sleeping. Here, the brain is quite active and you are probably half awake. The eyes also move around a lot. You would struggle to process information or form memories without this critical stage.

In polyphasic sleep, you have the option of ignoring or bypassing the light stages of sleep. Instead, you move right into REM or slow wave sleep. Essentially, you are spending less time sleeping while still reaping the benefits associated with restorative sleep processes.

Studies have proven that you are likely to enter the REM sleep stage quicker if you are derived of sleep. On top of that, you would spend more time on this stage as long as you are not getting enough sleep. In such instances, you might be diagnosed with REM Rebound.

Additionally, studies have also shown that the mutation of a gene known as DEC2 is responsible for the success that some people have in non-traditional cycles of sleep. If you have this condition then you would not struggle with polyphasic sleep.

Examining the Popularity of Polyphasic Sleep

What type of person enjoys or practices polyphasic sleep more? Lack of sleep fills the mind with restlessness aplenty. Eventually, you struggle being productive, which can then be bad news for the small business that you run.

It is worth mentioning that this type of sleep has been practiced for generations. In the past, our ancestors practiced what is known as biphasic sleep, which essentially means that you sleep in two phases.

However, it is slightly different from polyphasic, whose focus is to leave you with more hours during the day to work or indulge in more productive tasks. Its practitioners believe that it leaves you feeling more alert and awake during the day to perform your tasks productively.

In essence, this type of sleep gives you more control over your sleep. It gives you the ability to define when to sleep and how long you should sleep. In normal circumstances, you have little to no control when sleep sets in.

Famous Highly Productive Polyphasic Sleepers

Politicians, inventors, and artists have made polyphasic sleep quite popular. Without them, the number of people who have heard of and practiced this form of sleep would probably be less than what it is.

Arguably, there is no greater example of a personality who not only believes in but also practices it than Leonardo da Vinci. This painter and inventor slept for no more than 20 minutes at a time during the day.

According to some sources, adding up the several 20 minutes of sleep he had during the day would total to five hours. However, others are also of the opinion that he slept for a total of two hours accumulatively each day.

R. Buckminster Fuller, a famed inventor and architect, swore on the power of polyphasic sleeping too. He so believed in it to the extent of creating the Dymaxion Sleep Cycle, which revolves around spreading 2-hour sleep cycles over a 24-hour period.

Nevertheless, Fuller had to give up on this kind of sleep cycle. His wife and business partners never bought into it as they continued practicing traditionally accepted sleep patterns and schedules.

Several other historical figures were huge believers in polyphasic sleeping, which they believed made them more productive at activities and events that made them famous. These include Napoleon, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, and Benjamin Franklin among others.

Polyphasic Sleep Schedules

Polyphasic sleep comes with multiple schedules. One of the most common is biphasic schedule, which most people love and find easier to adapt to. Another type is Everyman, which is loved for its flexibility.

Dymaxion, which R. Buckminster Fuller developed, and Uberman schedules have also emerged quite popular. If you are an entrepreneur, your task is to select a schedule that fits into your lifestyle and pushes you to pursue more productivity in your life.

However, do not be in a rush. Instead, take time to learn and adapt to your preferred schedule. After all, patience is the key to a successful transition from your beloved monophasic sleeping schedule.


Biphasic is quite simple to adjust to regardless of your experience, or lack thereof, with polyphasic sleep. Basically, it means sleeping twice per day where you would start with an overnight sleep lasting 5-6 hours before taking a brief nap the next day in the afternoon. 

Typically, the afternoon does not last beyond 20 minutes. Alternatively, you are free to take a much longer nap in the afternoon. One that lasts around two hours would be sufficient, but only if it does not affect other aspects of your small business.


Dymaxion is a bit more complex, hence needs more understanding to adapt to successfully. Here, you sleep for two hours accumulatively during the day, which is broken down into 30-minute naps at the office or wherever you are.

R. Buckminster Fuller coined the term “Dymaxion” and the name has stuck since then. He played with three words, which he combined into one. The words are “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “tension.”


The Everyman schedule has multiple variations. Therefore, do not feel left out in case one variation does not appeal to you. Each variation carries a much longer “core” schedule that is accompanied by several naps.

An example of this involves interspersing 23-minute naps with an overnight sleep lasting three hours. Alternatively, you might opt to be more radical by sleeping for 1-and-a-half-hour at night while taking four naps that last 20 minutes each.


Uberman is a bit simpler to grasp. Basically, you are taking six 20-minute naps over a 24-hour period. While at it, remember to distribute the naps equally so that you only take one every four hours.

Uberman is the creation of two women: Marie Staver and Psuke Briah. In 1998, Staver recruited Briah to help her fine-tune this schedule. At the time, Staver was a college student who experienced plenty of insomnia.

Pros and Cons of Polyphasic Sleep

Polyphasic sleeping has several advantages, as you might have gleaned above. The increase in productivity is one of its biggest appeals, since it gives you ample time during the day to run your business. It also allows you time at night to focus on other aspects of the business.


One of its biggest appeals is the amount of free time that it offers. Consequently, this means you have more time to bury yourself into the aspects of your small business that need your attention while enjoying a bit of rest and the restorative nature of a good sleep.

Other than that, polyphasic sleep is great at improving quality of sleep. It gives your mind more control over sleep, which is essential for a productive life. It is impossible to run a successful business without a rested, alert, rejuvenated, and sharp mind.

Running a business often means a change in lifestyle. Mostly, you end up embracing non-traditional ways of doing several things. For this reason, polyphasic sleeping would be your best option, as it gives you ample space for living your life non-traditionally.

Does your lifestyle revolve around working overnight shifts? Do you need to spend more time in the office at night getting the startup up and running? In that case, monophasic sleep would never help you. Instead, you should embrace polyphasic sleep and all that it brings.

Furthermore, you have to be highly creative to run a successful business in the face of the many challenges that life throws your way. You can be one of the most creative entrepreneurs by embracing polyphasic sleeping courtesy of REM sleep, whose input on creativity is legendary.


The biggest drawback of polyphasic sleep is the sleep deprivation that it exposes you to. Without enough sleep, you run the risk of developing mental and general health issues, which could hinder your ability to work more productively.

Furthermore, you increase your likelihood of being involved in a road accident. Lack of sleep lulls you to take a nap while you are behind the wheels, which is a danger not only to yourself but also to other road users too.

This schedule has an effect on hormones too. Leptin and ghrelin are the two hormones that suffer the most from lack of adequate sleep. If these hormones are not functioning properly, your body would have a hard time regulating metabolism, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Be ready for a massive impact on your social life when you start practicing polyphasic sleeping. If you are not sleeping at night when everybody else is asleep then you are more likely to fall asleep during the day when everyone else is awake.

Additionally, it is not easy to transition from monophasic sleep to this concept. Therefore, be ready to indulge in it gradually until it becomes second nature. Furthermore, prepare yourself mentally for one of the toughest challenges and transitions of your entire life.

Final Thoughts

Are you ready to try polyphasic sleep? In that case, you should take it slow. Do not go hard at it, as the transition requires time and patience to get used to. Moreover, a good schedule to start off with is the biphasic. The others might be too extreme to embrace early in this new life.

Furthermore, it is good to spend some time studying yourself. Know what is good for you, especially where sleep is concerned. While you want to be as productive as possible, you would not achieve your goal by destroying your ability to sleep soundly to rest your mind and body.

Watch out for the impact of sleep deprivation too, especially once you transition to Uberman, Everyman, or Dymaxion. The three schedules are notorious for their effect on a mind that is deprived of sleep. It is hard to be productive with a mind lacking sleep, rest, and restoration.

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