The content on this page was last updated and reviewed on Saturday 03 March 2018.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: When dealing with polyphasic sleep, it is good practice to be skeptical about what you read, including everything you find on this website. Polyphasic sleep is not an exact science, because the number of scientific studies done on this subject is very limited. Consequently, while this content has been compiled with the intention that it might be helpful and useful to people, a lot of the information contained within has been collated without regard to perfect scientific accuracy (although, in many cases, published research papers have been studied to give additional background). Portions of the content on this website are a result of direct or personal observation and some information has been extrapolated based on data already available. It should also be said that I'm not perfect, and it's possible I made mistakes or I've misjudged the information. Nevertheless, hopefully you find at least some of the content within to be useful. If you feel the information given here is inaccurate, or that I am giving out bad advice, you are encouraged to discuss this with me over in the Discord chat room.
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Please note: This website is intended to be read in a left-to-right order. The content on this page assumes you have read and understood all previous pages. If you are finding comprehension difficult and you haven't read previous pages, you should start reading the guide from the beginning.
Designing a new sleeping schedule that actually stands a chance of success is quite tricky. Remember, the objective here is to increase wake time and improve sleep quality.
You might initially assume that you can continue to sleep monophasically and just reduce total sleep time, and that your body will eventually adapt by prioritizing the SWS and REM and ditching LNREM (since we previously noted the observation of this phenomenon), but there is sadly a huge flaw with this logic. Firstly, the recovery of lost REM and SWS seems to be weighted within sleep rebounds that occur within the first cycle of each sleep session, and you will only be getting one of those for each sleep session. Secondly, because a single block of monophasic sleep would be quite long, sleep cycle compression is not favoured which leads to lower sleep depth. Finally, even if you were to somehow push all of your REM and SWS into a single shortened block of sleep (which is very implausible), because LNREM acts as a wakefulness sustainer, you will end up completely exhausted by the end of the day if you remove it all, no matter how much SWS or REM you end up with. Clearly this is not an optimal schedule design choice.
You must be more careful with your sleep planning if you wish to be successful with your schedule. Considering everything that has been covered so far, here are some of the things which should be taken into account when planning a new schedule:
This is quite a lot to consider, but considering all of these factors will lead to a higher chance of success, so you should try to optimise your schedule to consider as many of these things as possible.
Ideally, you are looking to wake up in LNREM, because LNREM gives the easiest and most painless wakes. It has already been identified that at the end of each sleep cycle (roughly every 90 minutes) there is usually a large block of LNREM, so that seems like a good time to try and schedule wakeups. Sleep blocks which schedule wakeups at these times are known as cores.
For cores, you have the best wake-up points at roughly 90 minutes (1.5h), 180 minutes (3h), 270 minutes (4.5h), 360 minutes (6h) and 450 minutes (7.5h), because these are the approximate times at which each cycle will end. There might be a little push or shove on these times, but you can use this as a scheduling baseline to give yourself a rough idea on how long core sleeps should last. Notice how the 7.5h total looks suspiciously close to our traditional 8h mono sleep - that's because the average person sleeping monophasically has very low sleep pressure and consequently takes some time to truly fall asleep (usually anything up to half an hour). The sleep cycle length is also slightly variable anyway. But you can see that a normal monophasic sleep would, in poly terms, essentially be considered a 5 cycle core.
In addition to cores, you probably want some shorter sleep blocks to make up the rest of the time on your schedule. These short sleep blocks will be less than 1 cycle in length and will be called naps. (It is important to note the 'nap' vs 'core' distinction with regards to polyphasic sleep - having a '2 hour nap' is completely implausible, because the term 'nap' denotes a sleep block which is SHORTER than 1 cycle, and 2 hours is definitely NOT shorter than 1 cycle. So, if your schedule has a second core sleep which is shorter than the first, they might be distinguished fairly as 'long core' and 'short core', or described based on timings, like 'dusk core' and 'dawn core', but to use the term 'nap' to describe a shorter core is erroneous.)
Traditionally, naps will be focused on getting REM, and the SWS is left to cores. The reason for this is simple - a nap which wakes from REM or LNREM should be less painful, and with enough REM should leave you feeling refreshed with a good chance of dream memory retention. In contrast, a nap which wakes from SWS will traditionally leave you feeling crappy, and does not favour dream memory retention. Given that LNREM has already been deemed mostly useless, it makes sense to try to focus the naps on REM sleep only and to wake before the SWS stage hits.
So what makes the perfect nap length? The normal answer here given is 20 minutes. The reason for this choice is because:
There are a small number of proponents out there for 30 minute naps instead. The logic behind these naps is that in some cases (e.g. before or after extreme sports) it might be beneficial to get some SWS in the naps in order to allow for prioritization of certain actions of sleep (such as healing muscles and repairing tissue damage) rather than having an easy wake. In these circumstances, a slightly longer nap (usually 30 minutes) allows for a small amount of SWS for these purposes. Other nap lengths are also currently under debate, but are not well tested. Due to wake time programming, the body should eventually learn to insert light sleep at the end of these extended naps, which should make them easier to wake from in the long term. In general, however, the consensus is usually that naps ending in SWS should be avoided unless there is a good reason for them, and inexperienced polyphasers should probably avoid these to be on the safe side.
So, to summarize, the most optimal block lengths for scheduling are:
The 5 cycle core can probably be discounted, since this is just mono sleep, so this leaves us with five remaining scheduling options. The core lengths are adjustable to different cycle lengths as well.
The above scheduling guidelines with regards to naps, i.e. to be REM-focused only, and to be limited to 20 minute lengths, are typically only relevant to schedules above or near the minimum sleep threshold. For schedules with extremely reduced sleep times or with only a very short amount of sleep time allocated to SWS favourable periods, it is not possible to avoid SWS in all naps, because there will be high levels of sleep compression and high levels of SWS pressure. This is especially true for nap-only schedules, which do not have any core sleeps at all, and consequently where the only time for SWS gain is naps. On these schedules, consistency in nap length is more critically important than the exact length of the nap, as the focus is to make use of wake-time programming to allow for easier wakes rather than avoiding SWS naps altogether.
Now that we have the building blocks of polyphasic sleep schedules, we can categorize them into groups. The vast majority of polyphasic communities group schedules as follows:
There are three schedules currently in this group:
For these schedule groups, the name of a sleep schedule will be determined by using the group name followed by the number of naps. For example, a sleep schedule with 1 core and 3 naps would be Everyman 3, because Everyman means 1 core, and 3 means 3 naps. Similarly a sleep schedule with 2 cores and 2 naps would be Dual Core 2, and a sleep schedule with 3 cores and 1 nap would be Tri Core 1, etc. These can be further shortened as required to E3, DC2, TC1, etc.
Interestingly, while Everyman 1 is obviously an everyman schedule, it is categorized under the biphasic schedule group because it consists of only 2 sleep blocks.
Additional note: In the past, when the only known viable schedules were Everyman and nap-only, it was common to name the Everyman schedules based on the core length instead of the nap count. This naming convention doesn't work with DC/TC schedules and consequently was dropped in favour of the nap count naming scheme. Some people still prefer to use the old naming scheme, so this should be watched out for. (The conversion is quite easy: 'Everyman 6' is a 6 hour core, which matches up with the modern day Everyman 1; 'Everyman 4.5' is a 4.5 hour core, which matches up with the modern day Everyman 2; 'Everyman 3' is a 3 hour core, identical in name and layout to the modern day Everyman 3, and 'Everyman 1.5' is a 1.5 hour core, which matches up with the modern Everyman 4.)
The two traditional nap-only schedules are Uberman (6 equidistant 20min naps) and Dymaxion (4 equidistant 30min naps). It is common practice to shorthand these to U6 and D4. You can extrapolate from here to come up with naming conventions for other schedules; e.g. a schedule of 8x 20min naps could be named Uberman 8 or U8.
A schedule with 3 equidistant single full length cores (3x90min) is known as 'Triphasic'. This is arguably just Tri Core 0, but gets a special name due to to its equidistant properties.
A schedule with 4 equidistant 20min naps is known as the 'Tesla' schedule. This should arguably just be called Uberman 4, but gets a special name because of its absurd difficulty (it is probably significantly harder to adapt to than Uberman or Dymaxion). The worst thing about this schedule's name is that everyone instantly assumes Tesla slept this way (even though he didn't).
A schedule which follows Dymaxion rhythm but where 1 nap is replaced with a single full length core (1x90min, 3x30min equidistant) is known as the 'Trimaxion' schedule (because there are three Dymaxion naps). This is arguably just a shortened E3 with 30min naps.
A schedule which follows Dymaxion rhythm but where 2 naps are replaced with single full length cores (2x90min, 2x30min equidistant) is known as the 'Bimaxion' schedule (because there are two Dymaxion naps). This is arguably just a shortened DC2 with 30min naps. In the past this has also been named the 'Quadphasic' schedule, although that name is no longer used, because it is frankly very stupid.
As a contrast to the classic schedule groups, you could sort some of these special schedules into families. For example, the schedules which follow the Uberman rhythm (DC4, E5 and U6) could be grouped together. Likewise, the schedules which follow the Dymaxion rhythm (Bimaxion, Trimaxion and Dymaxion) could be grouped together. For the sake of describing the various schedules to a beginner, I feel it works better to group them this way, so this is the format I will be using for the remaining pages in this section.
When deviating from a traditional scheduling pattern, the following 'modifiers' can be applied to a schedule name to quickly explain how it differs from normal:
Typically these schedule modifiers will be appended after the abbreviated schedule name, printed in a format such as 'E3-extended', 'DC2-flipped', 'Segmented-shortened', etc. This is the format currently used within the Discord server and probably a good idea to stick to. Non-standard modifiers such as 'reduced' or 'lengthened' should be avoided.
The recovery modifier is typically only used as a modifier for those on a monophasic sleep pattern (Mono-recovery).
For each schedule on the site, I have ranked them in difficulty as follows based on their sleep time totals:
If you don't have much experience with polyphasic sleep, you should seriously just stick to easy schedules, or if you're looking for more of a challenge and you're not underage you could consider trying out moderate ones. Schedules with a difficulty level of 'somewhat hard' or higher are not really advised for beginners at all, because you are more likely to fail the adaptation with these - you should really avoid them if it's your first time trying. (Please don't do a very hard or insanely hard schedule on your first time - virtually nobody ever succeeds with those.)