A variant of sleep pattern, set in opposition to single sleep-wake cycles of 24 hours is what is known as polyphasic sleep. It allows people to stay awake for longer periods of time. Polyphasic sleep is more frequently referred to as the Uberman’s sleep schedule. It is quite a widespread term in the animal kingdom. The best way for people to be able to sleep polyphasically may be by timing themselves with alarm clocks. But the question is, is that the right thing to do?
To have a better sense of how alarm clocks affect people, it would be a good idea to compare NREM and REM cycles to a PC. People store the memory of new things on the RAM memory of their PC during the day. Similarly, during night time, they write down data to the hard disk while in NREM, and perform a disk defragmentation process (i.e. organizing and sorting data) during REM. Over night, this process of writing and defragmenting is repeated until all the data is well written to the disk for long term usage. The RAM is then ready for another days work.
The next day the PC is rebooted, and the defragmenter is set to a timed schedule. When it runs in the background the data access becomes pretty slow, and new stuff may not even get saved to the disk sometimes. In other words, when the PC is scheduled to run at a particular time everyday (like an alarm clock setting off), the data is endangered. In the same way, when people time their sleep and wake times with alarm clocks, their body may eventually get tired of it and start loosing control. The functionality and performance of people get highly affected this way. The fact is that the body gets restored to its refreshed and healthy state with a restful doze of sleep.
Alarm Clocks for Polyphasic Sleep
Even though scheduling sleep patterns to alarm clocks may not be a good idea, sleeping polyphasically cannot be successfully accomplished without the use of them either. The entire sleep cycle can be explained with a clock and hourglass model, where by, deep in the brain a body clock keeps running 24 hours a day. The hourglass keeps the intellect and energy levels refreshing with every time it is turned over. The body clock efficiently and automatically works on its own, waking the person up when its “time to wake up” and putting the person back to sleep when “its time to sleep”.
On the other hand, when people try to sleep when the hourglass is full, they’ll feel very tired and groggy and may not be able to sleep. It is still possible for people to sleep with the hourglass of power being empty; however, they will end up waking up very fast with the hourglass getting full again. This then makes it almost impossible for people to go back to sleep.
To be able to have a polyphasic sleep, one needs to stick to the phases successfully. In order to do this, it becomes necessary to time the sleep patterns accordingly, which is only practically possible by using alarm clocks.
Why Polyphasic Sleep Never Works Naturally
- People are fresh and fully rested in the morning and the sleepy feeling has cleared away. The mental energy hourglass is also full, so people are not likely to fall back asleep. Trying to have a nap at that time would be a total waste of time.
- In the afternoon, when the hourglass is getting empty, it is easier for people to have a nap. This may be ok, but the nap time will be shorter because the natural sleepy feeling may not be there.
- Having a nap in the afternoon will surely keep the hourglass almost full in the evening. Trying to have a nap at this time would also be a waste of time because the sleepy feeling will not be there.
- At night, the sleepy feeling is naturally released. With the natural body clock also ticking, people are certainly going to sleep. Napping will be easy, but people don’t usually wake up till the next morning. This is why it becomes important to use alarm clocks. The hour glass may manage to get recharged faster, but the sleepy feeling makes people tired and groggy. This is why using alarm clocks becomes a necessity, because waking up naturally becomes next to impossible, especially with the sleepy feeling still being in action (therefore, destroying the polyphasic sleep schedule).
Once people start using alarm clocks to be able to channel their sleep to the polyphasic type, they may have to struggle a lot initially. However, the body and its natural clock soon get used to the pattern, and before people realize it, they are already fully settled into the polyphasic sleep method of sleeping.