October 19th, 2005
Today’s post is a follow-up from yesterday’s Ubersleep? Hacking Sleep? Stupid! That posting was highlighted on digg and received a ton of comments there. As we here at tech-recipes are too busy discovering the end of comment spam to actually enable comments here on our own blog, I’ll respond to some of the (non personal-attack) criticisms of my post now.
I was the first to admit that I could not find any scientific papers on medline regarding polyphasic sleep in humans. Feel free to search for yourself; medline is a wonderful reference. That alone is an argument against polyphasic sleep. Would you take a medicine that hasn’t been studied? Then why screw with your sleep pattern in an untested way?
Although a self-reported military physician on digg disagreed, some people have suggested that polyphasic sleep has been tested and is frequently used in NASA and the military. NASA just released a review regarding sleep and performance in space. It does not sound like NASA is actively using polyphasic sleep at this time.
Polyphasic fans state that REM sleep is the only important phase of sleep and that the missed slow-wave sleep is not important. If so, then why does the body naturally try to catch-up on slow-wave sleep when it is missed? Lack of slow-wave sleep has also shown to decrease cognitive performance.
Enough with the medical talk… if you want to change your sleep patterns, I am glad you have the right to do so. As a sleep physician, I believe that the medical literature suggests that it might be bad for you — especially in the long run.
I think we can all agree that examining both the risks and benefits of anything we do to our bodies is very important.