Why polyphasic sleep?

Boosting productivity is always my goal. I'm a curious person, especially as a software developer, and I love experimenting. Being fully productive is like flying in a rocket, while just getting by is more like floating in a sailboat. This big difference is a good reason for me to try out a special sleep schedule for a month: polyphasic sleep.

What is polyphasic sleep?

Poly originates from the Ancient Greek word πολύς (polús), meaning "many" or "much." This isn't new information for most. When it comes to polyphasic sleep, you might infer it involves multiple phases of sleep. And that's exactly right.

Instead of sleeping for one long stretch of hours, it involves sleeping in several phases throughout the day. While this approach seems flexible, the standard polyphasic sleep schedules are quite strict. They often use a 24-hour clock to lay out the schedule. Below are some examples:


It's a classic in sunny Spain and beyond, where you snooze for 5-6 hours at night, then top it off with a 20-minute to 1-hour nap when the sun's at its peak. It's the perfect excuse to avoid meetings post-lunch and blame it on cultural heritage.


Monophasic sleep is the vanilla ice cream of sleep patterns—classic, reliable, but a bit plain. You dive into bed for a 7-9 hour sleep marathon every night. It's what you most likely do.


Enter the Everyman schedule, where you try to outsmart nature by breaking your sleep into a main 3-4 hour chunk and several mini "coffee break" naps. You'll end up with about 4 hours of sleep per day.


You can see that the uberman (not related to Andrew Huberman) is super extreme. It has 6 phases of 20 minutes totalling to 2 hours per day. You can see where this goes...

Health issues

There are enough studies about sleep, and if you're into that, you might want to listen to the podcast of Matthew Walker, the author of the book Why we sleep. He shows multiple studies suggesting that polyphasic sleep doesn't offer the promised benefits. Instead, it often leads to disrupted sleep stages, impaired cognitive function, mood decline, and adverse effects on health, including blood sugar and cardiovascular issues.

Great, so health wise it's not a smart move. Although, I think, that mostly links to the many phases most polyphasic sleeper schedule and in total they'er usually a lot shorter than the 8 hours that we all seem to need. My try will be getting those 8 hours of sleep at least while trying out polyphasic sleep.

Productive hours

One thing I really don't like is only getting productive later in the day. I often begin my day at a coffee shop, working without distractions. After lunch, I usually experience a slump in energy. I do get a bit of higher productivity back by late afternoon, but the afternoon is normally good enough for lighter tasks. Then, it's time for social activities, like dinner or hanging out with friends. If I start working on my laptop around 9pm, I lose track of time and can work until 2am. However, this pattern messes up the next day due to lack of sleep and possibly poorer sleep quality, as my brain is still buzzing right before bed. Clearly, this routine isn't effective.

As my productive hours are during the mornings and late in the evening, why not work those hours? Skip the rest. So I come up with this polyphasic sleep schedule:

This gives me plenty of time for morning rituals like exercising, breakfast, and a leisurely coffee, followed by a solid ~3 hours of fairly easy work (calls, meetings, admin, customer support). Then I wind down for an hour and sleep from 2pm to 6pm. After waking, I spend time with my girlfriend or engage in social activities. Around 9pm, I head back to the office or a coffee shop (found one that's open until midnight!) for a few 90-minute intense work sessions. Leaving the office at 2am feels almost magical, with the few people out having their own reasons for being awake.

Wife acceptance factor

The question I received most frequently when I talked about my polyphasic sleep plans was, "What does your girlfriend think about this?" Maybe it's because of all the home automation devices I've set up in our apartment, or perhaps she knows that resisting it would only make me more determined to do it, or simply because she's an incredible woman, but she was almost as excited as I was. "This really suits you," she told me.

What will be difficult?

One challenge for me will be waking up twice. Getting up once a day is hard enough; doing it again sounds like a double dose of trouble. I'm really curious to see how this goes over the month.

I've never been good at napping. It just doesn't work for me—I end up feeling groggier after those 20-30 minutes of trying to sleep. And how easy is it to snooze during the day, anyway? Will I be wrestling with my melatonin levels? This stuff tells your body it's bedtime, peaking at night and dipping in the morning.

Weekends might get tricky, socially speaking. My girlfriend's on board with this, but it's going to be awkward asking to nap at a friend's or family member's place. Then again, they probably know me well enough to just laugh it off.

Bjorn on X asked me for the worst effect I've noticed so far. For now, it's the time needed to start being productive after social time early in the evening. After a large meal and when others go in chill mode, you need to up your game and go to the office. What did really help was having an espresso or two no later than 4 hours before bed time.

Advantages so far

Since I have to wind down twice a day now, I'm taking way more walks. Just the walk to the office is about 12 minutes one way, so do that four times and I'm walking nearly an hour every day.

When I kicked this off last week, I tried to tackle the heavy work in the morning, but that just wasn't cutting it. Turns out, those late-night focus sessions are when I really get down to business, and that's what's working best for me.