First, there has to be a clear definition for the topic. This topic is not about increased energy need. When you are awake and physically active, you will need to consume more energy to not lose weight. This is because your body will be burning more energy than when you are sleeping.
Thus, it is only natural that you are sleeping a reducing polyphasic pattern, you are going to demand more energy. Because of that, this is not an issue for polyphasic sleepers.
This topic is instead about how sleep deprivation can alter your appetite, leading to possible weight gain. The research paper, “The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain” by Greer et al states the following:
- When you are sleep deprived, there is less activation in the region of your brain that is responsible for regulating your appetite; this is especially when you present food choice as signals for that region.
- This process has an association with a heightened desire for high-calorie foods. Hence, when sleep deprived, you are more likely to crave high-calorie foods and consume more of them. Therefore, that is a great recipe for weight gain.
At this point in time, the community is developing a method to monitor the weight change of people as they are adapting. Then, we will observe how their weight will change as they have adapted to a polyphasic schedule. We still need to consider some specifics; however, it should overall be relatively easy to complete the weight monitoring.
Now, onto anecdotal evidence. One of the adaptation criteria that the community uses is that adapted people should have a good appetite.
- Because people are managing to adapt, they most likely have recovered their appetite once they have completed the adaptation phase. Again, this is in no way solid evidence that polyphasic sleepers have fully recovered their appetites; however, it is still something to think about.
- Note that a “good” appetite also means a direct proportionality to need in this definition.
So far, it seems like polyphasic sleepers should not experience appetite changes after they adapt to a schedule. But what about weight changes?
- Well, since the awake body demands more energy to function, the final weight should be somewhat constant with a consistent food intake. However, this is apparently under the assumption that you are not eating around the clock. We expect you to follow the dark period practices that the community suggests.
The Polyphasic Survey 2018 tracked how the food intake of polyphasic sleepers changes after switching from a monophasic sleep pattern. Switching to polyphasic sleep schedules caused the following changes in the amounts of food consumed:
- 17 people ate more
- 11 ate less
- 31 ate the same amount after adapting to a polyphasic schedule.
If you are looking to debunk polyphasic sleep with this topic in mind, you would need to show:
- The appetite of adapted polyphasic sleepers indicated that they were sleep deprived even after a successful adaptation.
However, this is relatively poor evidence; this is because the feeding habits also depend on psychological factors. Regardless, it would be better than nothing; in addition, it would be easy to track.