Planning a Polyphasic Schedule for the Four Sleep Chronotypes

Planning a Polyphasic Schedule for the Four Sleep Chronotypes

When deciding a schedule, or diagnosing excessive problems during adaptation, it is useful to align with your sleep chronotype as identified by Dr Breus.  Your sleep chronotype is your genetic variation on the average circadian rhythm. When do you get tired? When is your best sleep and best activity level?

Bears are the most common of 4 types (estimated 50% of population), and reflect the average circadian rhythm.  They have the standard SWS peak between 21:00-midnight, a REM peak between 06:00-09:00, and a midday energy dip between 11:00-15:00.  They also need the most sleep on average. Lions are earlier, Wolves are later, and Dolphins have trouble sleeping regardless. Ready an easy, visual outline of each type at Mantasleep.

To determine your type, take the online quiz at ThePowerofWhenQuiz.com .*

*Note: Please ignore elaborate personality deductions for each sleep chronotype that are shown to you in video after the quiz.  They are largely baseless and inaccurate, abusing the Forer/Barnum psychological fallacy in contrast with other established personality identification systems. Chiefly consider the variation in circadian rhythms due to genes.  Dr Breus is a respectable sleep scientist, but not a psychologist.

Unlike other recommendations on Polyphasic.net, this section is reasoned speculation with limited experience or survey results so far. That said, there are some exciting deductions to improve upon adaptation success!  Note that the interaction is unknown between chronotypes and artificial dark period, i.e. using very dim light or filtering out blue/green light for 2 hours before bedtime. These suggestions assume dark period matches your local sunlight hours. 

Bears (sunlight-aligned) may prefer sleep in the middle of their outside dark hours, being the most sunlight-driven. From personal experience, you may be happiest waking up to sunlight or an artificial sunrise alarm clock, if your final nighttime core ends at least 5 hours after your first/only core begins. On poly, this could be around 23:00.  Follow the timing of ideal polyphasic charts recommended on Polyphasic.net and Napchart.com, +/- 1 hour adjustments.   Half of people have this standard circadian rhythm according to Dr Breus. Bears also have a midday energy dip around 11:00-14:00, where a polyphasic nap or siesta is extremely useful.

Wolves (night owls) may do better with their first core late, around midnight to 2am on a polyphasic schedule.  If you are like many newcomers to polyphasic community who complain about not being able to fall asleep earlier, even with blue light filters and low light, this may be you.  Their tendency to sleep in and doze does not work with entraining a polyphasic schedule, so many alarms with math puzzles and bar code scanners may be needed to get up promptly. Wolves get an energy burst around midday (11:00-14:00), and then more energy again in the evening.  Any naps or a siesta should be concentrated earlier in the day before noon with this sleep chronotype. 

Lions (early morning types) need the earliest bedtimes.  First core could be 21:00 or even earlier, but not in daylight, which suppresses melatonin. Melatonin takes two hours of darkness or red-only light to peak, and you want it to peak at the beginning of your first core cycle. Naps will help sustain energy throughout the day, as opposed to monophasic sleep on this sleep chronotype!

Dolphins (difficult sleepers) have trouble with sleep in general and are light sleepers.  Choose when you are calmest, the environment is quietest, and you might be the most interested in sleeping.  Managing anxiety and stress is the key to this type. Also, a strict dark period is especially important to ensure a strong melatonin buildup that increases drowsiness and sleep quality.  Use products like these laser goggles, red lightbulbs, or screen light filters to block blue and green light for 2 hours before desired core bedtime. 20-minute naps may be difficult, due to difficulty falling asleep quickly. If so, consider siesta or segmented schedules, or even triphasic if you’re over 21 years old. Dr Breus recommends a worry journal before bedtime to dump your stressful thoughts. See sleepscore.com/chronotype-ideal-bedtime

In this article, Dr Breus also reports that early-riser Lions and especially the common Bears “tend to get” 7.5 hour mono cores.  Nocturnal Wolves and insomniac Dolphins tend to get 6 hour mono cores. He reports these as tendencies in practice. In an ideal world, based on many hundreds of newcomer welcome surveys in the leading polyphasic online server, I believe many Bears thrive on 9 hours of mono sleep, and the other types thrive on 7.5-8 hours. Dolphins may be lucky to get that.  Modern research advises 7-9 hours monophasic for adults.  On polyphasic, Bears would be the most likely to require extended schedules with an extra 90m core cycle.  Lions might benefit from the +30m core variations of certain schedules.  

Finally, consider your daily habits and see how it compares  to the recommended example days for each type: see Business Insider on how to find your perfect daily routine.  How would you plan your next polyphasic lifestyle for the best energy, every day?

Main author: Aethermind

Page last updated: 13 January 2020

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