Ryan Bergara is a Buzzfeed Motion Pictures Staff member and it was around the beginning of April when he decided to take on the daunting task of switching up his sleep schedule. By now, almost everyone is aware of the inherent benefits of sleep aside from feeling refreshed, renewed and recharged in the morning. Along with dreaming, spreading out in a comfortable bed and doing absolutely nothing, sleep, as reported by Health.com, has been shown to improve memory, extend lifespans and curb inflammation among many other benefits.
While most of us sleep in a ‘monophasic pattern’ whereby we sleep for eight hours and then stay awake for the other 16, some countries, such as those in Latin America, engage in different sleeping patterns. In Latin America, people use a ‘biphasic’ sleeping pattern where they sleep for 5 to 6 hours and then have a 30 to 90-minute siesta where they can sleep or nap.
But Ryan wanted an even tougher challenge and instead, he chose to engage in a ‘polyphasic’ sleeping method. The goal of a polyphasic sleeping pattern is to break up sleep into as many chunks as possible in order to optimize the amount of awake time. Ryan decided to interview Jackson Nexhip who is the author of Polyphasic Sleep And Productivity, to get his take on polyphasic sleep. Jackson said: ‘so I’ll sleep for four and a half hours and then I’ll have two twenty-minute naps throughout the day.’
This sleep schedule is called the ‘Everyman’ and in total it would amount to a little more than five hours of sleep per day. The most extreme form of polyphasic sleeping is the ‘Uberman’ where people sleep for less than two hours every night via six twenty-minute naps. Extended over a lifetime, the ‘Uberman’ incurs an extra twenty years worth of awake time!
Nonetheless, despite Ryan’s consultation with a sleep expert at UCLA, Dr. Alon Avidan, who said that a minimum of seven hours of sleep is required for a human, Ryan still decided to undertake the ‘Everyman’ sleep schedule. His report on Buzzfeed read: ‘day 1 and Day 2 were especially hard for me. By day 2, it was hard to get the energy to work out or complete daily functions. Dr. Avidan warned me of the short-term effects, like slower reaction time, memory problems, cognitive problems, lack of creativity, and increased irritability.’
Ryan documented his sleep-deprived schedule to the world on YouTube and by day 4 he said: ‘I’m so brain dead right now, I’m incapable of doing anything.’ By the time he reached the fifth day, he reported that he was ‘actually feeling better and then was recorded laughing hysterically at a ‘joke’ about his boss making homemade hummus.
By day 7, Ryan had to ‘tap out’ and cave in for some extra sleep. He reported that he was beginning to get sick and that his leg injury from the gym simply wasn’t getting better due to the lack of sleep. In the end, he said that he learned ‘how crucial the proper amount of sleep is for functionality’ and how he didn’t ‘experience heightened focus or creativity nor did [he] feel the extra time awake per day was worth it.’ In the end, he sided with Dr. Avidan that only very few people can function on polyphasic sleep and that most people and their bodies are suited for a biphasic sleeping pattern.
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