Most of us have only tried the simplest of sleep cycles—monophasic, or the standard seven to nine hours of sleep at night. And, who can blame us? If there’s a single thing people around the world agree on, it’s the idea of falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning.
But, is the monophasic cycle the most efficient? If you’re a professional working the regular 9-to-5, then yes, possibly. If your work requires late shifts or allows flexible work hours, however, polyphasic cycles—cycles that involve multiple sleep phases every day—could fill you with much more energy.
So, give them a try. You might think it’s terrifying to stray from the status quo, but historian Roger Ekirch presents over 500 references to polyphasic sleep in his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past. According to Ekirch, people from Homer’s Odyssey to modern tribes in Nigeria have lived with these alternative sleep cycles. And who knows? One of them just might end your impressive track record of being sleep-deprived.