Lots of people have heard of ‘polyphasic sleep’ even if not by that name—it’s when you sleep for a total of three or four hours a day by spreading it out into naps, the aim being nothing more than spending less time sleeping. Apparently commandos are trained to switch to schemes like this if they are stuck in the worst of situations, and need more time to make progress.

Clearly polyphasic sleep isn’t at all practical for the rest of us though for the simple reason that other people don’t do it. In order for it to work you have to stick to the schedule, or you will be severely sleep deprived, so that means you suddenly have immovable chunks of your schedule: you absolutely cannot meet someone or visit somewhere between 3 and 4:30pm, for example. And all that extra time you’re awake in the night is only useful for working on your own; it’s going to be very dependent on your profession as to whether that’s suitable.

This afternoon I came across ‘biphasic sleep’ where you nap at a regular time in the evening, and then go to bed later and get up earlier, so for example you sleep 7:30pm-9pm and then 1:30am-6am. People say that it improves sleep quality and, again, it cuts down the amount of time you have to spend sleeping for the same effect, but it’s a compromise with the rest of the world: there’s only one part of the day that you are unavailable for, and it’s not part of the standard ‘working day,’ so the worst that could happen is that you miss early evening social activities—but these tend to be followed by late evening social activities, so it’s cool.

I like this idea a lot, and perhaps come the long vac this summer I will try it out; not practical until then.