What Is Biphasic Sleep?

It's easy to associate productivity with coffee, but our quality of sleep also impacts our efficiency during the day. According to SCL Health, adequate sleep can boost immunity, increase heart health, and improve both mood and memory. When we're well-rested, we are more awake and alert the following day.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends young and middle-aged adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, with older adults requiring closer to 8 or 9 hours. According to Healthline, most people engage in what's known as monophasic sleep, where we sleep for one designated portion of a 24-hour cycle (nighttime). However, not everyone gets the bulk of their sleep in one fell swoop. In fact, some people believe their productivity is better served if they structure their sleep cycle in a completely different way. Biphasic and polyphasic sleep patterns develop naturally for some people, but what is the difference?

Biphasic sleep can look different for everyone

Some people choose to engage in biphasic sleep, also known as sleep that is split up into two separate chunks (via Healthline). Others break it up even further and partake in polyphasic sleep, which involves sleeping in multiple shorter segments each day. Though it may take some time to adjust, health experts say there may be some benefits to gain from sleeping in such a way. Biphasic sleep, practiced in many different parts of the world, allows people to reap the benefits of napping. According to the Sleep Foundation, a 15-minute midday nap can decrease grogginess while simultaneously improving cognitive function.

There is no universal rule when it comes to biphasic sleep and many people choose to structure their segments differently. One common method is the "siesta" sleep cycle, which involves a nighttime rest period of about 5 hours, followed by an hour-long nap later that afternoon (via Sleep Foundation). Alternatively, some find that they benefit more from longer periods of sleep at night and shorter nap times during the day. This might mean getting 7 hours of sleep nightly, coupled with a 20-minute midday nap. A third option involves limiting sleep exclusively to nighttime but breaking it up during the course of the night. This can be achieved by getting up for an hour around midnight before heading back to bed until morning.