[No registration!] Is polyphasic sleep dangerous?

Cleaning brain waste

Cleaning Brain Waste

This part will be about:

  • The accumulation and cleaning of beta amyloid, which is a waste product that amasses in the brain.
  • How altering your sleep schedule affects the cleaning of beta amyloid.


The possible issue at play is that as the active brain produces waste materials. It then becomes necessary to clean out these wastes from time to time. Most significantly, the cycles of the glymphatic system is a process responsible for clearing out beta amyloid. During this process, the brain literally shrinks a bit to allow fluid to drain through.

Relation to polyphasic sleep

Slow-wave sleep

What does this have to do with polyphasic sleep? The sleep stage you are in can affect the speed at which the glymphatic system can clear out the waste. Therefore, this is where the root of the skepticism arises. Will polyphasic sleep alter the rate at which the brain clears out waste material? The answer is most likely no.

After assessing the specifics, we believe the sleep stage with the fastest glymphatic system operation is the SWS stage.

During this sleep stage, the waste-clearing of the glymphatic system is working about twice as fast as when you are awake. As we concluded previously, an adapted polyphasic sleeper should not incur missing SWS duration. Because of this, excess beta amyloid should not build up after you have adapted. This is at least applicable to traditional polyphasic schedules with some core sleeps.

Polyphasic sleep vs monophasic sleep

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Two glymphatic cycles on Siesta

There is also another aspect to consider here: Polyphasic sleepers sleep more often than monophasic sleepers.

  • This immediately suggests that there is a possibility for multiple high-speed clearing cycles; in other words, more glymphatic cycles that happen during SWS.
  • The clearing process may take shorter if you have multiple sleep sessions that contain SWS throughout the day than if you only sleep during one block at night.
  1. For example, the daytime core on Siesta can contain a certain proportion of SWS. The same goes for other schedules with more than one core sleep. 
  2. With more than one sleep session, the cumulative amount of beta amyloid between the high-speed glymphatic cycles is going to be smaller than on monophasic sleep. 
  • If light sleep was also responsible for an increased rate of glymphatic waste clearing, polyphasic sleeping may still be no worse than monophasic sleep
  • If only SWS is responsible for removing beta amyloid, polyphasic sleeping could actually be more healthy than monophasic sleep.


How should a skeptic debunk polyphasic sleeping with this topic? They would need to demonstrate the following:

  1. Light sleep is responsible for a faster clearing-rate of waste in the brain.
  2. Sleeping in multiple segments does not account for waste clearance. 

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