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Currently I sleep 7-8 hours a night, but I've heard of different sleeping strategies where you sleep in shorter increments and do them often. What is the most common form of an alternative sleeping pattern?

Where can I find more information on them?

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See this answer to a similar previous question for a link to very thorough long term academic research on polyphasic sleep. The summary is that it doesn't work. –  Dennis S. Jul 31 '13 at 13:24
    
Biphasic sleep is highly recommended, though. –  Muz Jul 31 '13 at 13:26

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The body does most of its recuperating during the REM phase of the sleep cycle. Our usual sleep cycle consists of a 6-8 hour stretch with a small REM phase in between. We actually need just about 2-3 hours of REM sleep everyday.

Alternative sleep cycles take advantage of this and are based around getting into, and out of, REM sleep quickly and much faster when compared to regular cycles.

This blog post covers quite a few of the popular ones :

  • Uberman Cycle: 20 to 30 minute naps every 4 hours, resulting in 6 naps each day. The uberman cycle is highly efficient, and usually results in feeling healthy, feeling refreshed upon waking and extremely vivid dreams. However, the rigid schedule makes it near impossible to miss naps without feeling horribly tired.

  • Everyman Cycle: One longer “core” nap that is supplemented with several 20-30 minute naps. This cycle is much easier to adjust to than the Uberman and allows for more flexibity in nap times and in skipping naps when necessary.

  • Dymaxion Cycle: Buckminster Fuller invented the cycle based on his belief that we have two energy tanks, the first is easy to replenish whereas the second tank (second wind) is much harder to replenish. So Buckminster began sleeping for 30 minutes every 6 hours.

  • Biphasic/Siesta Cycle: The biphasic cycle consists of sleeping for 4-4.5 hours at night, and then taking a 90 minute nap around noon.

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Before the industrial revolution people actually didn't sleep in one 8 hour block. Historical research has shown that people actually slept over a 10 hour period but in two phases. They would go to bed much earlier and sleep in a 4 hour block and then by up for a couple hours before going into 'second sleep'.

In a study by Thomas Wehr, he had volunteers remain in total darkness for 14 hours everyday. No lamps or any other light was allowed. This was to simulate what it was like for people before artificial light. Eventually the subjects changed their sleeping pattern to two 4 hour blocks of sleep.

To do this kind of sleep, start to shut off all screens in the early evening and dim the lights. If you need to pass the time read books or talk to your family. This should wind down your body clock and ease you into sleep. It's also recommended that you sleep with the blinds open to wake up with sunlight. A sunrise alarm clock is a good alternative if you absolutely need to be up by a certain time.

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Sleeping for 6-7 Hours are enough for a healthy person. Timing depends on geographic condition. Like for India; 11PM-5:30am or 10:30PM-5:30am is best time for sleep.

If you are at home for whole day, you can take 30-40mins sleep in noon and 6 hours sleep in night.

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