Is multiphase sleep bad

How important is sleep?

Science keeps exploring the unknown to shed light on things we don't have on our screen. The undeniable value of sleep has recently led to the expansion of sleep science and has also led to repeated public debates.

A new understanding of sleep can be pleasantly surprising and a welcome relief to those who feel compelled to adopt the mythical "early bird" dogma common in health care circles.

The early bird myth

There seems to be social pressure to get up early and “seize the day”. This is particularly common in the health and fitness sectors. This statement has no basis in science or in historical human experience. Instead, it is a side effect of trying to fit everyone into the “workday” boxes that are included in the work and school schedules of modern society.

In sleep research there are different “chronotypes” that refer to genetically predisposed wake-up times and best focus hours. An "early chronotype" (commonly referred to as an "early bird") refers to someone who wants to wake up very early, usually before dawn. A “normal chrono” usually goes up at sunrise or shortly afterwards. The "late chronotype" refers to what we commonly call a "night owl".

The Hadza in Tanzania are hunters and gatherers whose lifestyle is similar to that of early humans. No fewer than eight tribe members are awake at any time during the night. This is in line with the "sentinel theory" which was first put forward in the 1960s. In essence, someone needs to be vigilant to watch out for animal or human predators 24 hours a day.

As a result, there are those who stay up late and those who have to wake up very early. Even then, certain people volunteered for night shifts and others for morning shifts. So you should also follow what works for you for your health. In other words, if you are not part of the early bird group, stop adjusting.

Polyphasic sleep

The idea of ​​getting all of our sleep in one continuous session is a given in modern life. Surprisingly, many people instead followed a "two-phase" sleep pattern in which they sleep in two separate blocks, or a "multi-phase" sleep pattern in which they sleep in several blocks for 24 hours.

In pre-industrial times (before lighting and before modern work schedules) it was common practice to follow a two-phase sleep schedule. The most common form was to sleep for several hours, get up for an hour or two, and then sleep again for several hours to get the overall sleep necessary for a good recovery.

In addition, Leonardo da Vinci and Nikola Tesla observed almost impossible strenuous multi-phase sleep cycles. Da Vinci reportedly slept 15 minutes every four hours, while Tesla never slept more than two hours in any 24 hour period. These men were undoubtedly productive and intelligent, but their anecdotal examples are by no means model for most people.

In addition, it can of course be harmful to your health to spend too many hours in a row awake and thus get less than the number of optimal hours of sleep that your body needs. Our natural, historical tendency towards two-phase sleep guarantees that adoption is more appropriate than napping to be well rested, especially when plans or preferences make it impossible for everyone to sleep in a single session. In German it has even been proven that a multi-phase sleep cycle provides more relaxation and is healthier too.

Cerebral lavage

When you sleep, your body may be resting, but your brain is busy cleaning up the junk.

The network that drains the waste from the brain is called the glyph system. It circulates the cerebrospinal fluid through the brain tissue and flushes the resulting waste into the bloodstream, which then releases it to the liver for detoxification. Brain cells even shrink when we sleep, causing cerebrospinal fluid to enter and flush the brain.

It is believed that neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are caused by inflammation and the accumulation of cellular waste products from energy production. These waste products are removed from the brain more effectively and faster during sleep.

In addition to the already known immediate impact of sleep quality and quantity on your mental function and mood the next day, there are obviously significant long-term brain health benefits from properly resting. Sleep is therefore not only important in order to be able to concentrate or to be in a better mood, but can even lead to illness and life-threatening conditions if you do not. In addition, it has been proven that when the body does not get enough sleep, muscle building also decreases.