Polyphasic sleeping has had a long journey throughout the length of history. Commonly known sleep patterns are segmented and biphasic sleeping. However, this section lays out the list of famous polyphasic sleepers. Not everyone is included in the list, only certain ones that have been verified by at least 2 sources, with sufficiently consistent information among different sources and extra verification from said sleepers’ family members, colleagues, etc. Note that the displayed sleep schedules are purely illustrations, not exact by the minutes.
CRISTIANO RONALDO – 5 Sleeps Per Day (Non-reducing polyphasic sleep)
Cristiano Ronaldo, a world-wide famous football star, is said to divide the main core sleep into 5 different 90m cores each day and has persisted for years and still remains in top shape2. Given the flexible timetables, Ronaldo is very likely to be able to move his sleeps around to accommodate for his sleep regime and stays adapted for years, with certain slip-ups (such as sleeping for more than 1 cycle in a row and able to maintain its proposed structure when time allows).
However, no information regarding his “adaptation phase” is revealed. Whether he is able to maintain this sleep pattern on a daily basis is also questionable. And most importantly, whether he becomes naturally polyphasic after certain exposure to the schedule along with an intense training regime and a diet of multiple meals per day is also not fully explained. Since it is difficult for a pro athlete to maintain a sleep schedule by the minute on a daily basis, it is possible that adaptation to these schedules might or might not require strict adherence by the minute for all sleeps like on other sleep-reducing counterparts.
ROGER FEDERER – SIESTA-EXTENDED (Non-reducing polyphasic sleep)
Roger Federer, a legendary tennis star, claimed in an interview that he sleeps around 12h each day, with 10h at night and a 2h siesta3. It is very reasonable that he needs a lot of sleep for extra muscle recovery due to how much wear and tear the muscles exert on a professional sport level. And to optimize performance, it is understandable how and why athletes need higher sleep total than a normal human – heavy physical exercises increase SWS need. However, it is also possible that Federer’s sleep need was already higher than that of an average human before he became a pro tennis player.
WINSTON CHURCHILL – SIESTA (Non-reducing polyphasic sleep)
Churchill had a stable habit of napping late in the day and stayed up late into the night to work. He remarked that his nap felt like he was having an extra day1.
KOBE BRYANT – SEGMENTED- SHORTENED
Kobe Bryant was known to have 2 different sleep sessions each day and it is very possible that his sleep need was much lower than that of an average human to only require around 4 hours of sleep each day. Considering that he is a professional basketball player with intense an intense training regime, Bryant possibly possesses a genetic mutation that allows him to sleep a lot less than average and still can keep up with his training without any long-term exhaustion4.
BUCKMINSTER FULLER – DYMAXION
As a creator of the sleep pattern itself, Buckminster Fuller, an American architect and inventor in the 20th century, was able to stay on the schedule for about 2 years5. He noted increased alertness, energy and focus from a lot more extra waking hours. However, it is very likely that he is a very short sleeper with a genetic mutation to be able to pull off such a difficult nap-only schedule.
LEONARDO DA VINCI – UBERMAN
There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence that Da Vinci followed a Uberman-like schedule, where he allegedly slept 15 minutes every 4 hours staying awake. Up to date, however, there is no confirmation from any credible source that directly claims that Da Vinci followed that sleep schedule. The myth that Da Vinci was able to strictly follow the Uberman-like schedule seems almost very compelling, due to his extreme dedication to working and creating many inventions, which would require a lot of time to complete.
While it is a debatable subject, Claudio Stampi, a polyphasic sleep researcher has conducted experiments with the ultra-short sleep schedules that resemble Uberman. The sample size is limited with very few volunteers, however, one did report to be alert and not suffer from cognitive deficits. The experiment duration was only within a couple weeks, with the longest being 48 days6, which is insufficient to draw any conclusions whether long-term Uberman would be a sustainable and healthy sleep pattern. Throughout his book “Why We Nap” Stampi suggests that an ultra-short schedule like Uberman is possible at least for a short period of time, yet never directly concluded that Da Vinci actually followed this sleep pattern for his entire life6.
- Brett & Kate McKay. “Famous Nappers: 8 Men Who Napped.” The Art of Manliness, 15 Mar. 2011,artofmanliness.com/articles/the-napping-habits-of-8-famous-men/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2020. (Winston Churchill)
- “Sleep Guru Reveals Cristiano Ronaldo Has Five 90-Minute Naps BEFORE Bed.” The US Sun, 10 Jan. 2020, the-sun.com/sport/premier-league/237487/cristiano-ronaldo-sleeps-five-times-a-day-before-bed-and-snoozes-in-foetal-position-reveals-superstars-sleep-guru/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2020.
- “Roger Federer Sleeps 12 Hours a Day, Says Neuroscientist.” Tennis World USA, tennisworldusa.org/tennis/news/Roger_Federer/73246/roger-federer-sleeps-12-hours-a-day-says-neuroscientist/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2020.
- Ago, Steembasketballin Sports • 2 Years. “Kobe Bryant’s Unusual Sleep Habits and Legendary Work Ethic.” Steemit, 5 Feb. 2018, com/sports/@steembasketball/kobe-bryant-s-unusual-sleep-habits-and-legendary-work-ethic. Accessed 14 Feb. 2020.
- Biology, in, et al. “Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Sleep Plan: He Slept Two Hours a Day for Two Years & Felt ‘Vigorous’ and ‘Alert.’” Open Culture, openculture.com/2017/03/buckminster-fullers-dymaxion-sleep-plan.html. Accessed 14 Feb. 2020.
- Stampi, Claudio. Why We Nap : Evolution, Chronobiology, and Functions of Polyphasic and Ultrashort Sleep. Birkhauser, 2014.