Our bodies need sleep to perform properly and be healthy. We are built to sleep to replenish our bodies and brains. Specifically, two interrelated systems regulate the time of our transitions from awareness to sleep and vice versa. The first one is the internal biological clock, the innate time device of organisms. The second one is the sleep-wake homeostasis, a basic concept of sleep regulation where a shortfall evokes an increase in the intensity and duration of sleep, whereas excessive sleep diminishes sleep inclination.
Sleeping Patterns as a Cultural Phenomenon
Many experts believe that sleeping patterns are an expression and manifestation of an ordered set of cultural preferences. This combination of cultural preferences is expressed in modern Western countries by a specific concept of sleep. Indeed, it occurs in an enclosed bedroom, in a home with members of a nuclear family, regularly throughout the night hours. This separation of sleep from social activity has not always been the case, with sleep being quite different in previous periods of history. Sleep, for example, was quite public in medieval society (with most people sleeping during the day), and most people shared a sleeping room. However, between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, sleep customs started to shift in tandem with modern society’s growing sophistication and industrialization and changes in morality, public health, and economics.
For these reasons, we can distinguish monophasic sleep cultures (those in which sleep occurs in one long period at night), biphasic sleep cultures (those in which a shorter afternoon sleep follows a long nocturnal sleep), and “napping,” or polyphasic sleep cultures. These are also distinct sleeping styles that we have at various ages. It has been shown that sleep in preschool children has a biphasic cycle. Adults have a monophasic sleep schedule, sleeping for 7.5 to 8 hours per night on average. It returns to a biphasic pattern as people mature. According to research on the development of sleep, the powerful monophasic rhythm of youth gives way to a polyphasic cycle at a later age. Indeed, frequent night awakenings are accompanied by decreased attentiveness, followed by an increase in daytime naps. The structural alterations discovered in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a brain region in the hypothalamus regulating circadian rhythms, may be linked to these physiologic alterations. In the aged, phase modification occurs, as well as a propensity to sleep and awaken early. These changes might be linked to age-related changes in the core body temperature rhythm.
Monophasic Sleep Schedule
Pure monophasic behaviour occurs when all sleep is accumulated in a single day episode. In other words, monophasic sleep is what we would call a regular sleeping pattern in today’s society. It’s the most common sleeping pattern, and it’s one that almost every civilization has embraced. Furthermore, many anthropologists feel that this sleep pattern was standardised due to the industrial revolution’s longer-than-normal working hours. A monophasic sleep cycle looks like this:
- Getting up at 6 a.m.
- From 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. being awake
- Sleeping from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.
Biphasic Sleep Schedule
Those who follow a biphasic sleep schedule sleep for a long duration at night, usually 5-6 hours, and then sleep for a shorter duration during the day. The shorter relaxation period lasts around 30 minutes and provides an energy boost at the end of the day. A “siesta”, on the other hand, may last up to 90 minutes. A 90-minute nap allows a person to experience one full cycle of sleep. Napping may be beneficial to your health and a more natural way of sleeping. Napping has been linked to improved memory and learning ability, increased concentration, and improved mood. The following is an example of a biphasic sleep schedule:
- Getting up at 6 a.m.
- From 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., being
- From 2 p.m. until 3.30 p.m., sleeping.
- From 3.30 p.m. until 12 p.m., being
- From 12 a.m. until 6 a.m., sleeping.
Polyphasic Sleep Schedules
A polyphasic schedule occurs when sleep and activity phases are spaced throughout the day. However, contrary to popular belief, most animals have regular polyphasic rest-activity rhythms. The exception to this rule is monophasic conduct. Polyphasic sleep is likely the only way to reduce sleep time drastically. During a nap on a polyphasic schedule, the structure of sleep differs significantly from that of nocturnal sleep on a monophasic schedule. Naps are not little versions of the 8-hour sleep cycle. Some mechanisms connected to recovery may be active every time the organism falls asleep, regardless of the length of the sleep period. For those working in high-demand situations, polyphasic sleep seems to be the best option. According to research, it may be feasible to learn or train to adapt to polyphasic patterns and reap the benefits of relatively brief sleep periods. If you want to attempt polyphasic sleep, you need to give it at least 1-2 weeks to get fully used to the patterns.
On the other hand, polyphasic sleep may have therapeutic properties for sleep problems. Narcoleptics, for example, are regularly overpowered by exhaustion, which leads to involuntary naps and the formation of a random polyphasic sleep pattern. Furthermore, scientific evidence shows that scheduled naps are more restorative and improve cognitive function than other naps. There are three major forms of polyphasic sleep schedules: dymaxion, uberman, and everyman.
- The Dymaxion sleep schedule, devised by Buckminster Fuller in the 1920s, is one of the most well-known polyphasic sleep regimens. It’s also the most demanding, requiring just two hours of sleep daily (four 30-minute naps every six hours). This strategy will almost certainly lead to chronic sleep deprivation. It’s important to note that this sleep pattern is only expected to function for subjects who can live with fewer REM phases without harming them due to a specific genetic mutation.
- Uberman sleeping pattern. Friedrich Nietzche’s Ubermensch inspired the term. This demanding schedule allows for six 30-minute naps every four hours, totalling three hours of sleep each day. Marie Staver, a sleep-deprived IT professional created it. Proponents of the Uberman schedule often claim that it gives them more energy and allows them to reach REM sleep faster than a monophasic sleep pattern. The issue is that none of the supposed advantages has been empirically validated. The explanation for this is simple: many individuals who attempted this schedule couldn’t stick with it for long. Notably, Even Staver eventually dropped out of the Uberman program after landing a job that wasn’t suited to it.
- The Everyman sleep schedule was created to simplify the Uberman sleep cycle by putting a core sleep period in between several naps throughout the day. The Everyman sleep cycle is designed to help people rapidly adjust to sleeping for fewer hours each day. This pattern is centred on three 30-minute naps each day, plus a three-and-a-half-hour “core” sleep.
The Importance of “Naps”
Naps, according to research, can “reboot” your brain and help you approach your task with a fresh and clear mind. However, there is contradictory research about the optimal duration of naps. According to certain research, a 10-minute afternoon dosage has an immediate favourable impact on performance and alertness. In other research, if people perform badly on a repeating activity, a 30-minute sleep between tasks may stop the deterioration, and a 60-minute sleep may even reverse it. However, most experts agree that a 10- to 20-minute power sleep is sufficient for a rapid boost of alertness and stamina.
The Importance of Sticking to a Schedule
Regardless of the schedule you choose, it is essential to be consistent and not modify your sleep routine too often. Suppose you regularly alter when you fall asleep and wake up. In that case, your body will be difficult to adapt to a steady schedule. Irritation, weariness, headaches, mood swings, concentration and memory problems, and cognitive impairment may all be symptoms of an irregular sleep pattern. Finding your body’s ideal sleep-wake cycle is just half the fight. Then you must work hard to ensure that you stick to this schedule. Maintaining a sleep schedule needs some planning and preparation.
Suppose you are tempted to attempt sleeping less and splitting your sleep up during the day. In that case, you must carefully examine if your body will be able to manage the challenge, as well as the danger of sleep deprivation. Indeed, it may have severe implications on both a physical and a mental level. Unfortunately, we lack scientific knowledge about the different sleep schedules that we have listed here. For this reason, you should be cautious about trying them out. In general, to enhance, your sleep is necessary to stick to a routine. After it, our bodies will automatically understand when the sleeping time is coming close, starting to produce hormones and neurotransmitters that make it easier to fall asleep.
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