[No registration!] Is polyphasic sleep dangerous?

Cognitive performance changes

Cognitive Performance Changes

Cognitive performance is a crucial aspect to assess sleep quality. For polyphasic sleeping, it is a highly important factor that we account for. 


How could the cognitive performance of adapted polyphasic sleepers show that polyphasic sleeping is dangerous? This ties into whether polyphasic sleepers are sleep deprived. When you are sleep deprived, your cognitive performance will suffer.

If you track yours to see any changes after a successful polyphasic adaptation, you can figure out if you are still sleep deprived.

Current situation

What are the results so far?

The polyphasic sleep community is currently working on a mobile application to determine the performance of polyphasic sleepers before, during and after they have adapted to a polyphasic schedule. Then, we will compare these results to the monophasic baseline’s to see how the values change during the course of adaptation.

To clarify, during the adaptation period, people’s cognitive performance is going to falter. This is because they will be getting less sleep than what they need on their monophasic baseline. The results become interesting when we compare performance of people who have adapted to a polyphasic schedule. As this app is still in the making at the time of filming, there are not any results to show you as of now.

Current research

Peer-reviewed paper

In 2013, there was a research paper on Uberman sleep. The paper is, “Endocrine and cognitive effects of a radically polyphasic sleep schedule“.

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The Uberman sleep schedule
  • This study lasted for 5 weeks, which might have been long enough to conclude the Uberman adaptation.
  • Out of 8 subjects, only 1 subject lasted until the end of the study. The other subjects quit at the third week because of social life constraints rather than sleep deprivation.
  • Interestingly enough, the remaining subject did not exhibit any cognitive impairments by the end of the fifth week. He performed just as well as on his monophasic sleep prior to the study. 

However, there were also some issues with this Uberman experiment.

  • The sample size was small, with potentially one subject making through the adaptation phase. Alternatively, 5 weeks may not have been enough. 
  • No information regarding EEGs of the subjects is available to date. Only the Abstract is accessible.
  • Uberman sleep completely suppressed his growth hormone (GH). His GH secretion pattern is now observable 6 times a day, which corresponds to 6 naps. It is very possible that SWS wakes remained prevalent even at the fifth week. 

Bachelor thesis

There is actually a Bachelor’s thesis completed in this subject, “Losing Sleep: A Preliminary Investigation of the Cognitive Effects that Arise from Polyphasic Sleep Cycles”. TAYLOR STEPHEN SMYTH wrote this thesis in 2013.

  • The results show that the subjects cognitive performance improved when they attempted a modified Uberman schedule; this is great news on this topic.
  • However, there are a few negative aspects.
  1. First, there was no baseline for how the cognitive performance was expected to change as time progressed. They became more used to the tests with monophasic sleepers.
  2. Second, the sample size was small. There was only one participant. 
  3. Third, there was one other result that was a bit worrying. The weight of the subject changed as time progressed. During the experiment, he gained about 5 kilograms; however, he did note that the experiment took place during the winter holidays.

The future

The goal is to finish the application that measures cognitive performance, which should provide good results on the question of whether polyphasic sleeping is dangerous.


Here are some concrete points that someone wants to show that polyphasic sleeping is dangerous would need to find evidence for:

  1. The cognitive performance of adapted polyphasic sleepers has decreased.
  2. The cognitive performance does not return to the same levels after an adapted polyphasic sleeper has returned to monophasic sleep.

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