Who Says We Need to Sleep 8 Hours All at Once?

Does the fact that society generally expects us to sleep for eight hours at a stretch and call it a day (or night, as the case may be) seem weird to you? If your answer is “yes,” you might find this handy infographic featuring four alternative sleep cycles of some interest. After all, there’s no real reason why we’re all following what’s called the monophasic sleep cycle; for some reason, that’s just the way our ancestors decided the world should work. Odd, no?

Created by UK-based bedding retailer Dreams’ Sleep Matters Club blog, the infographic highlights a few alternative sleep cycles you might consider adopting. After all, history tells us that we weren’t naturally built for getting all our sleep in one sitting, right? The four sleep cycles described here fall under the “polyphasic” umbrella; they each involve more than one sleep period, and they each have their own pros and cons. Of course, whether or not you’ll be able to swing them depends on what kind of job you have — but if you’ve got some flexibility built into your day, why not give one of them a shot?

Here’s a quick description of each one; scroll down the see the full infographic and get the complete scoop.

1. Biphasic Sleep Cycle

This one entails sleeping five to six hours at night and take a nap in the middle of the day (all in favor of the siesta, say “aye!”). It’s not great for people who have trouble taking naps, but it does have the added bonus of improving our memory and other cognitive functions. If I had my druthers, I’d probably opt to follow the biphasic cycle; I’m not terrific at taking naps, but given my propensity for waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get to sleep, something tells me I’d be better suited to two sleep periods per day instead of one.

2. Everyman Cycle

Then there’s the Everyman cycle, which involves having a core sleep period of three and a half hours with three 20-minute naps spread out throughout the day. The downside is that the overall amount of sleep you get following this cycle is considerably less — only about four and a half hours. But hey, if you want to increase your waking hours (and probably get more stuff done as a result), it might be worth a shot.

3. Dymaxion Cycle

The Dymaxion cycle, meanwhile, is kind of like the Everyman cycle amped way, way up: It consists of four 30-minute naps taken throughout the day and nothing else. Apparently some people are genetically predisposed for this one — if you have the DEC2 gene, you’re naturally a "short sleeper." Just, y’know… try not to end up in Beggars in Spain territory. Good read; horrifying scenario.

4. Uberman Cycle

And lastly, there’s the Uberman cycle, which has you taking between six and eight 20-minute naps throughout the day. Once you manage to adapt this cycle, you apparently join the ranks of Those Who Can Fall Asleep Anywhere and at Any Time (a useful skill to have); however, you also won’t be capable of functioning for more than about three and a half hours at a time.

See the full infographic here:

Images: Unsplash; Giphy (4);