Getting up in the morning and returning to rest after a while is known as “biphasic sleep”. How do these vigils affect health? Biphasic sleep consists of dividing rest into phases spaced a few hours apart. This technique has proven to satisfy some modern life’s needs, but it is not new. This is how we rested in the Middle Ages when there was no electricity, and we went to bed as soon as night fell. However, hours later, people would wake up to perform daily activities before returning to rest. During the Middle Ages, staying awake for 3 to 4 hours between periods of sleep was considered productive. Today this practice is known as biphasic sleep.
What Is Biphasic Sleep?
Those who choose biphasic sleep do not sleep straight but divide the night’s rest into two or more phases. When the division exceeds the 3 phases, we speak of “polyphasic sleep”. It is a scheme that modifies the traditional one, based on rest that goes from 6 to 8 hours in a row. It does not classify as a sleep disorder, but it shares some characteristics with this condition, which sometimes affects daily life. Among the effects of sleep disorders, the Sleep Unit of the University Clinic of Navarra cites daytime sleepiness, exhaustion and problems in fulfilling obligations.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have changed their rest routine, forced to spend the nightlife at home. Unknowingly, they have adopted the biphasic dream. Unlike what happened in other times, when the darkness immediately announced the time to go to sleep, there are aspects of modernity that are closely linked to the adoption of biphasic sleep and not precisely because of lighting or silence. This is evidenced by a study published in the American Journal of Human Biology, which showed that the average quality and duration of sleep in the sample used did not depend exclusively on factors such as light or noise.
Biphasic Sleep And Insomnia
According to the journal Acta Médica Colombiana, chronic insomnia is a pathology that causes severe physical and mental health complications. This condition leads to sleep division for some patients. Some use fragmentation as an opportunity to get work done, clean up and exercise. It is a way to adapt the sleepless schedule to biphasic sleep. On this point, several doctors agree that practicing biphasic sleep can help patients relieve anxiety and go back to sleep.
Benefits Of Biphasic Sleep
We can distinguish 5 phases of night sleep, ranging from light rest to REM sleep. In segmentation, there is a long pause in the first 3 hours after bed. It is as good as a deep and restorative rest for some people. As long as breaking your sleep into blocks does not reduce your average daily rest (6 to 8 hours), it brings benefits such as those mentioned below.
More Time To Relax
It doesn’t matter if it’s night: use the tranquility of this moment to relax without working or fulfilling family obligations. You could meditate, write, do yoga or awaken the muse of art and writing. Take this time to plan what you will do during the day.
Take advantage of the early morning with your partner to enjoy intimacy. If you want to become pregnant, biphasic sleep is an excellent excuse to increase the chances of conception.
According to a text published in the Las Condes Clinical Medical Journal, prolactin increases at night and reaches its maximum concentration before the end of the sleep cycle. Although conclusive evidence is lacking, sleep in 2 phases is believed to regulate the production of this hormone due to the levels found in the early hours of the day.
Dreams More Lucid
Lucid dreams are those in which you know what you are dreaming of. You might even check it out. Sleeping in phases is believed to affect the memory of this type of dream, as well as memorization, creativity and concentration.
Disadvantages Of Biphasic Sleep
On the other hand, those who choose biphasic sleep may also experience the disadvantages we are discussing now. Please get to know them to make an informed decision about this practice.
Go To Bed Earlier Than Usual
Some prefer to rest this way, which does not come naturally to them. In these cases, they adapt the rhythm to the fragmentation. The downside is that they have to go to bed much earlier than expected, wasting a few hours.
Anxiety And Other Pathologies
Staying awake while others are asleep may make you anxious. It is usually understood as a habit, as it is common to benefit from daylight for any task or job. The nights represent the moment of sleep in the collective unconscious, except for those with a job or a night routine.
Impaired Sleep Structure
When the sleep structure is disrupted in any of its phases, there may not be adequate rest. This generates ailments and diseases.
Difficulty Falling Back To Sleep
Not everyone finds it easy to rest in the middle of the night. In these scenarios, what matters is not to resort to intense tasks or those that work the brain a lot so that the second sleep shift is vital.
How To Improve Sleep Quality?
The perception of good sleep is linked to parameters such as the percentage of sleep phases and their cycles, the latency to fall asleep, micro-awakenings and periods of wakefulness. If, of your own free will, you assimilate this way of sleeping to make the most of the night, gradually introduce it into your habits. Conversely, when sleep segmentation is a problem, it is advisable to consult a specialist. Treatments tend to be behavioral and cognitive to regulate fluctuations, physical activity and diet. Likewise, exposure to natural or artificial light affects the regulation of circadian rhythms and the anxious response to the waking state.