According to the National Institute of Health, the average human being spends about a third of their life sleeping. The average lifetime is 78.21 years, which means approximately 26 years are spent in bed. However, a new polyphasic sleep cycle that only devotes two hours a day to sleep is estimated to grant around 20 years of waking life.
Sleep is a critical biological function that is essential in retaining memories and allowing organs and muscles to rest and recover. Also, sleep helps the brain rid itself of toxins. The majority of people follow a monophasic sleep cycle, which involves seven to eight hours of sleep every day.
In Latin countries and universities, people follow a biphasic schedule, which involves six to eight hours of rest with one 30 to 90 minute nap. However, a polyphasic sleep cycle brings down the time spent resting to two hours a day by involving 20 to 30 minute naps spread out evenly throughout the day.
Advocates of the lifestyle credit the successes of Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Leonardo da Vinci to the polyphasic system. The first concrete documentation of experimentation with the sleep regimen was from philosopher, architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller.
When Fuller experimented with the two hour sleep cycle that grants 20 years of waking life, he reported that his productivity and task completion increased greatly. Fuller, reportedly, also developed the ability to enter deep REM sleep in under 30 seconds. It was only after complaints from his wife that he returned to a monophasic sleep cycle.
Today, individuals are experimenting with the new version of the polyphasic sleep regimen called the “Uberman schedule.” It requires six naps daily that are no longer than 30 minutes. Steve Pavlina, personal development speaker, adopted the schedule and reported impressive results. He, like Fuller, returned to monophasic sleep to spend more time with his family and kids. He also cited that excessive amounts of boredom were introduced due to the augmented amount of hours spent awake in his day.
A theory has surfaced in the Journal of Sleep Research which states that the two hour polyphasic sleep schedule that grants 20 years of waking life is more in line with evolution. Most animals follow the multiple nap sleep schedule. The objective of the system is to enable humans to enter the most important stage of sleep, REM, instantly. With this ability, people could get just enough of REM sleep required for healthy brain maintenance, then carry on with their activities.
Matt Bianchi, director of the sleep division at Massachusetts General Hospital, offered a warning that everyone’s biology is different, which is why just because one person is fitted for a polyphasic schedule, not everyone is. He warns those who are attempting to follow the sleep cycle to not drive, operate heavy machinery, or make important decisions while adjusting.
He also warns those who desire to augment their waking life by 20 years with the two hour sleep cycle that the long term effects of the schedule have not been observed. He also said that REM sleep is not the only stage that benefits humans, and that the possibility of the sleep cycle becoming traditional is not likely considering most peoples’ work schedules.
By Andres Loubriel