What Is Biphasic Sleep?

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What exactly is biphasic sleep? People may not be familiar with the specific term, but most probably recognize the concept.

It refers to sleep patterns that involve sleeping in two segments each day. Biphasic translates to “two phases” and can also be referred to as segmented, divided, bimodal, or diphasic sleep, too.

This is different from what many of us consider “normal” sleep, which is monophasic—sleeping for one period each night. Another related sleep pattern people may hear about is polyphasic sleep, which generally refers to sleeping in more than two segments.

“Most people are monophasic sleepers by nature,” Healthline explains. “Monophasic sleep patterns involve only one segment of sleep, usually during nighttime hours. It’s thought that the custom of sleeping for one 6- to 8-hour segment per day may have been shaped by the modern industrial workday.”

Someone who has a biphasic sleep pattern might take a daily nap, like the siestas that people take in many parts of the world. This could be a “power siesta” of about 20 minutes, or a longer, 90-minute nap. “Some people are naturally 20-minute nappers, and other are naturally 90-minute nappers, whilst some people are both,” the Polyphasic Society website explains.

Biphasic sleeper during the daynito/Shutterstock

It begs the question: Is one sleep pattern any healthier than the others? Not really. Sleep health truly depends on each individual person’s needs and schedule. What works best for one person might be a nightmare for another.

“No one person’s sleep requirements are exactly the same,” Medical News Daily reports. “Some require eight solid hours of sleep for optimal function. Someone else, however, may lead a productive and healthy life on five hours of sleep per night with a short nap or naps during the day.”

Related: What Exactly Is Sleep Hygiene? 

For those who currently don’t nap during the day, but biphasic sleep appeals to them, we suggest giving it a go (provided people can fit a nap into their schedules, of course). Try to nap in a cool, dark, and quiet space if at all possible.

Those who find that napping doesn’t do much for thier energy levels, or stops them from getting enough sleep at night, should shift back to their regular sleep schedule.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

Featured image by l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.