Polyphasic sleep is a system of limiting daily sleep time to 2-5 hours by taking a 20-45 minute nap every four hours. People who practice this technique claim to be more alert and healthier than before they started. Little scientific experimentation has been done on polyphasic sleeping. However, throughout history, many brilliant minds have practiced and enjoyed its benefits. Leonardo da Vinci and Buckminster Fuller used this exact method and, while continually astonishing the world with brilliance, both lived double the expected life spans of their times. Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison experimented with similar sleep patterns throughout their most inventive phases.
Some people are still skeptical of splitting daily sleep into several sections as it goes against the social norm and, with lack of scientific proof, they cannot be certain of its effects. Doctors warn that lack of sleep can be fatally harmful, which is one reason people are reluctant to experiment with it. Polyphasic sleeping can also be difficult to practice for people running regular daytime schedules or working full 8-9 hour shifts.
Modern civilization has adopted the monophasic sleep cycle as a method to keep everyone on the same schedule. History shows that animals of all kinds, including humans, are better adapted to taking naps. However, those who oppose the idea of splitting daily sleep into several sections are concerned with the potential risks of losing sleep due to lack of scientific proof.
The question then is this: What are the real benefits or detriments of polyphasic sleeping?
With a large support base growing in the online community, many people have dedicated blogs to documenting their experiences with polyphasic sleep. I expect to find that, although difficult to manage and maintain, polyphasic sleeping allows a person to be more cognitively alert during waking hours while having many more waking hours to spend.