Polyphasic sleep is the practice of replacing a single 8 hour sleep with multiple shorter naps. This is done maximize your “awake” hours: The claim is that you can achieve the same level of rest with less sleep, and have more hours in the day to do stuff.
When my daughter was born, I was forced into a polyphasic sleep routine (i.e.: I was woken up at night a lot). So I decided to try and continue the polyphasic sleep pattern during the day (i.e.: take power naps). Unlike traditional polyphasic sleepers, my focus was NOT on maximizing my awake time. My focus was on maximizing sleep time.
My plan was to try and sleep as much as possible during the night (with the expectation that I would be frequently woken up). During the day, I would take regimented power naps to catch up the the sleep I’ve missed.
- There needs to be at least two parents
- You need a flexible work schedule
- You need a private place to take naps during the day
My Polyphasic Sleep Routine
Nightime (~10PM to ~7AM)
- Try to get as much sleep as possible
- Don’t force yourself to stay awake
- Don’t force yourself to wake up at a specific time
Daytime (~7am to ~10pm)
- Adopt an Uberman sleep pattern during the day (or a modified Everyman)
- Take a 20-45 minute power nap every 3-4 hours. If you wake up at 6AM, you take a nap at 10AM, 2PM, 6PM. If you wake up an hour earlier or later, the schedule gets shifted appropriately.
- Capitalize on nap opportunities: If it’s only 3 hours since your last nap, but you have an opportunity for a power nap now, take the nap. Don’t wait another hour.
- Don’t oversleep. Once that 45 minute alarm goes off, get up!
- Don’t forget to nap. If you skip a nap, try to nap at the next opportunity and reset your nap schedule from that point.
- Carry an “instant-anywhere-nap-kit”: a blanket, inflatable pillow, eye blind, and ear plugs to allow for instant naps anywhere.
Did it work?
Yes — it actually worked really well for me. I got into a routine of taking two power naps at work, and then another power nap shortly after I got home. How much or little I slept during the night didn’t really affect my day-time productivity, as I could catchup on the missing sleep.
I only followed this routine for 2-3 months, as our daughter started sleeping full nights very early on (which I am very grateful for).