Biphasic Sleep (Napping) FAQ

I keep getting asked a few of the same questions so I thought I’d take a post to gather my thoughts on biphasic sleeping, also known as napping.

1. You sleep… when exactly?

I sleep twice in a day. The first time being sometime in the early evening (around 8:30) and this block of sleep is only for 90 minutes (at least, thats the plan, see #4). After my first block of sleep I’m extremely refreshed and ready to go another few hours. I set myself to be back up by about 6 so I either go to sleep again at 1:30a or 3a. Note these are in 90 minute increments again.

2. What does 90 minutes have to do with anything?

The 90-minute cycle actually refers to one complete sleep cycle. This includes going through REM sleep; the most important part of sleeping. Since I don’t force myself to wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle I’m much more refreshed and it’s much easier to actually get up.

3. Is it hard to get up at 6 every day?

Surprisingly, no. I used to have trouble getting up at 8 or even 9 every day. I’m convinced it was because I was constantly pulling myself up out of the middle of a sleep cycle. Our brains get stuck down in ‘sleep world’ and have a hard time unnaturally coming back up.

4. Do you ever screw up your sleeping schedule?

On occasion, yes. It’s funny but sometimes I’ll mis-set my alarm and find myself taking a 3 or 4.5 hour nap. I actually wake up naturally at 3 or 4.5 hours. I smile because people who thought I’d be ‘back in a few’ or would ‘call them in an few hours’ end up going to sleep that night slightly confused. They know its something nap-related. Oh well. I just adjust my second sleep period. For example, last night I went to bed at 9:30p and woke up at 2a. Oops! I ended up working until 5a, slept until 6:30 and, well, here I am! I had a midterm at 9:30 and have felt fine all day.

5. Do you ever sleep in?

To me, “sleeping in” is anything more than 6 hours. My body is pretty good at waking itself up automatically after a REM cycle (end of a 90 minute increment). On Saturdays I treat myself to 7.5 or 9 hours of sleep. People who advocate 8 hours of sleep are nuts. Seriously.

6. Does this interfere with your (social) life?

Nope. If I’m not in a place where I can’t just decide to take a nap then I simply don’t that day. I will just sleep 6 or 7.5 hours that evening and pick back up the next day. It seems like the simplest solution and hasn’t given me any problems. I do start to yawn quite a bit though as the night wears on..

7. Are there any side effects?

Increased productivity, smaller todo piles, less magazines to read on my bookshelf (hopefully this will carry over to books). But seriously, there have been no medical side effects whatsoever. This is far from anything radical like polyphasic sleeping.

8. Would you try polyphasic sleeping?

I’ll try anything. I don’t see it as something feasable for me at any point in my life. I may be wrong though. If I ever have the ability to control my schedule like that (30m naps every 4h) then sure, I’ll give myself a month or so to try it out.

9. Where did you even hear about this?

I find neat stuff online. This happens to be one of those things…