BEGINNER GUIDE: The Choice of Sleeping Right

Personal Monophasic Sleep Duration Assessment

Determining Personal Monophasic Duration

Sleep Need

Q: So, I have no idea how much sleep I actually “need” when I sleep monophasic. Some days I have to sleep for 6 hours only, some days 8-9 hours and feel better. Just how can I know if there is no such consistency in my sleep times?

A: Great, many beginners ask this as well! There is no exact way to know unless you are consistent with your sleep times. By “consistent”, I mean the following:

  • You go to bed and ideally wake up at the same times everyday. Yes, it sounds like a polyphasic sleep adaptation, but you will never find out unless you set up some kind of method. 
  • Do not use any alarms! Some people insist on the importance of waking up at the same time everyday; however, for monophasic sleep, you are not reducing any sleep. Therefore, consistent wake time is not necessary. 
  • Initially, you may be disappointed because you just spent 10 hours (or even longer) in bed. And this happens for the first days or even more than a week straight. However, don’t fret! We know that most humans are sleep deprived (to some extent); if you let yourself sleep all the way, it is making up for some sleep debt. Over time, though, it should reduce to a reasonable number, like ~7-9h range
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Differences in sleep duration

It is very common that a lot of us sleep less on work days and more on off days. That explains the discrepancy in sleep duration. Unfortunately, it is an unresolved loop of sleep deprivation. You usually need at least 4 days to recover from just 1 hour sleep cut. 

All in all, keep this consistent monophasic habit until you figure out your actual amount of sleep duration and no longer feel tired

Sleep Genes

Q: I slept 6 hours consistently for the last 3 days. I think that is the amount I actually need; sleeping more just makes me really tired sometimes. Am I a short sleeper?

A: It is great you asked this question because many people assume they have short sleeping genes. What you consider is a possibility; however, given the scarcity of information, I doubt you are one of those “sleep mutants”. 

  • Recall that a short sleeper naturally sleeps about ~6h or less each day. This means they never use any alarms, and their daily performance is perpetually sustainable. They also usually do not suffer from any mental disorders or any noticeable health conditions. 
  • It is true that a gene like DEC2 constitutes a short sleeper. If you are unsure, you may consult a doctor on your health conditions. However, sleeping that short for a long period of time since you are young is likely something very noticeable. I mean that it is unlikely no one, including yourself, would not know about this until your adulthood. 
  • In certain periods of the lifetime, you may temporarily sleep less. This may even be natural for you at least. For example, stress and insomnia can naturally shorten sleep duration in an unhealthy way. 
  • 3 days is far from enough to make such conclusions. You need to demonstrate that you perform well at your school or workplace and you are mentally stable. Also, do not use any alarms to wake up. 

Overall, natural, healthy short sleepers are very rare. Most of us are regular sleepers who sleep anywhere from 7-9 hours each day. Therefore, the chance that you are one of them is lower than you think. 

Sleep Stage Components

Q: Okay, so I just read about the articles on sleep stages on the website. Now I know what REM, SWS and light sleep stages are. But how exactly do I know how much REM and SWS I need? 

A: Unfortunately, you will not know without a reliable sleep tracker. As you already know, wrist-worn trackers are never accurate. Instead, try getting something with a headband to measure your brainwaves, such as the Zeo. Other than this, it’s mostly a guessing game at this point. You may tell a little bit, but nothing certain. 

  • An average baseline is 90 minutes REM and 90 minutes SWS daily, in an average human. However, your values may vary a lot from these. 
  • If you are a heavy sleeper, you may have a somewhat higher amount of SWS. If you have massive troubles waking up in the night and just sleep like a baby, you likely qualify. 
  • On the contrary, if you know well that your sleep has fragmentations or is overall on the light side, you may spend more time in light sleep, REM sleep, or both. 

Other Questions on Monophasic Sleep

Monophasic Sleep Connection to Polyphasic Sleep

Q1: Alright, so how does knowing about my monophasic sleep help with my polyphasic schedule?

A1: Well, it helps set you up with a reasonable expectation. You would not be too surprised if some Biphasic schedules like E1 gives you daunting troubles after just 4-5 days in. Let me give a few examples.

  • If your REM-SWS combo is 135-120 minutes respectively, it may explain why you cannot wrap up your E1 adaptation. The somewhat elevated REM requirement makes things all the more difficult on just a 6-hour core sleep and a mere 20-minute nap. Likewise, nightmare stuff like E4 (2.8 hours), Uberman, etc. are out of the question. 
  • On the other hand, if your combo is ~100-75 respectively, you may have an easier time adapting to something as hard as E3 (3.5-hour core), or the tiers of Triphasic (4.5 hours). This also means you get to enjoy a larger amount of wake time
  • Knowing your numbers helps you adjust your lifestyles better. For example, you may want to limit your exercise intensity if your SWS is already at least 2 hours per day with a sedentary lifestyle! You absolutely do not want to increase SWS duration at all during your own adaptation!
  • Some cases may not be as bad as they look. For instance, a 9-hour sleeper may just need ~100 minutes of REM and SWS each. Thus, don’t be let down if you instantly see a high sleep duration. 

NOTE: Many sleepers directly jump into their polyphasic schedules with a prior bad monophasic pattern. As a result, they have already suffered sleep debts from the start. Fixing your monophasic sleep first, if possible, is a more important factor than you think!

Not Knowing Personal SWS and REM Baselines

Q2: So what schedules will I pick if I do not know my REM and SWS baselines?

A2: For beginners, we usually recommend something mild enough to test the waters first.

  • Likewise, if your sleep duration is within the normal range, you may begin any regular/default Biphasic schedules. For example, on the website, the default Siesta will be the 5-1.5 core combination, and E1 will have a 6-hour core and a 20-minute nap. 
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Extended Biphasic sleep for beginners
  • Otherwise, if you are not very confident in adapting to the regular versions of those schedules, you can consider extending a core sleep by 90 minutes
  • Usually, though, if your monophasic sleep duration is longer than ~8.5 hours, an extension may be necessary for the Biphasic schedules. 

I recommend you take a careful and slow approach to things. Not knowing your sleep architecture means you are venturing into dark waters. Better to be safe than sorry, after all! 

Genetics

Q2: So it just comes down with genetic luck??? Anyone born with lesser REM and SWS requirements can adapt to any schedules, right? Man what a bum that I need at least 2.5 hours REM and 2 hours SWS. 

A2: I somewhat agree with you that there is luck, like pretty much anything else. However, just because someone has lower sleep requirements does not mean they can automatically adapt to any schedules! It takes hard work, commitment, willingness to change and sometimes fortune. I have heard a couple stories of how a sleeper still wakes up on scheduled time despite malfunctioned alarm(s) in their sleep. 

The possibilities are a lot more open for those sleepers; but as always, no adaptation is a given. It is a big change in your sleep habits and well-being. Regardless, once you know your strengths and limits, you will be more confident in handling your own adaptations! Your ultimate goal should be to adapt to whatever “reasonable” schedule you pick. Once you master it, you will feel great, wake up more refreshed than ever before, and everything rolls. 

Concluding Remark

So, at this point, I hope that you have finally understood your natural monophasic duration. It is going to be a huge bonus if you get to know your sleep stage composition, though. Now, let’s hop on your daily timetable to see what schedules will fit you!

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