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What Is Biphasic Sleep?

by BetterSleep
Jun 24 • 4 min read

Imagine sleeping in not one but two different stretches during the day, rather than just your regular eight hours at nighttime? That’s exactly what biphasic sleep is all about. By splitting your sleep schedule into two, you could reap several benefits. In fact, this type of sleep may even come more naturally to you in the first place! If you’re the kind of person who naps frequently during the day, this should definitely sound appealing to you!

Keep reading to find out what biphasic sleep is, how it benefits your sleep hygiene, and how you can make it part of your own nighttime routine.

So What Exactly Is Biphasic Sleep?

Biphasic sleep is where your sleep schedule is broken into two halves. Some of your sleep hours could be done earlier in the day, with the rest at nighttime. Examples of this could be taking long naps, or siestas, during the afternoon or early evening. After taking those couple of hours earlier in the day, you can pick up from where you left off later in the nighttime.

Sleeping your typical eight hours per night is called monophasic sleep. Sleeping for multiple segments per night, rather than just two, is known as polyphasic sleep. By adopting a biphasic sleep schedule, you could perhaps gain more energy and alertness for certain tasks that you otherwise wouldn’t on your usual monophasic routine.

How Would Biphasic Sleep Benefit You?

It’s believed that, prior to the industrial era, biphasic sleep was a common practice in various countries around the world. Segmented sleep schedules such as this one are also common among animals, such as insects and birds. Though further research will be necessary to confirm the benefits of biphasic over monophasic sleep, there do appear to be some upsides. For example, taking naps during the day can not only improve your sleep quality but also your cognitive functioning.

However, keep in mind that the non-consecutive hours spent sleeping while adopting a biphasic routine can create potential sleep deprivation issues. This not only means a reduced quality of sleep but a wide range of other health issues, too (diabetes, heart disease, etc). If you’re going to start a biphasic sleep schedule, be wary of any risks, especially if they could exacerbate health issues you already have.

What’s an Appropriate Schedule for Biphasic Sleep?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but there are several types of biphasic sleep routines you can try. A traditional approach is going to sleep around 9 or 10 p.m. for several hours, then waking up at or after midnight for a bit before falling back to sleep. Otherwise, you could split your sleep schedule into a short daytime nap before getting the rest of your sleep later that night, or by taking a longer siesta in the afternoon, much like people do in European countries like Spain.

Changing your sleeping habits by splitting it into two shifts could very well make you feel happier, more productive, and better at helping you manage insomnia, but only if you keep making the effort to see those results. Once you’ve picked a schedule that works for you, stick to it. Choose a routine that best suits your sleeping habits, go to bed at the same times each day, and make sure your overall health is in good shape beforehand—exercising, healthy eating, and avoiding caffeine and pre-bedtime screens can work wonders!

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