[No registration!] Is polyphasic sleep dangerous?

Cleaning brain waste

Cleaning Brain Waste

This part will be about the accumulation and cleaning of beta amyloid, which is a waste product amassed in the brain, and how it is affected by altering your sleep schedule.


The possible issue at play is that as the brain is working, some waste material is produced, which needs to be cleared out every now and then. A process responsible for clearing out beta amyloid is made possible via cycles of the glymphatic system, where the brain literally shrinks a bit to allow fluid to drain through.

Relation to polyphasic sleep

What does this have to do with polyphasic sleep? The speed at which the glymphatic system can clear out the waste can be affected by the sleep stage you are in. So this is where the root of the scepticism arises – will polyphasic sleep alter the rate at which the brain clears out waste material? The answer is most likely no. When the specifics are assessed, it turns out that the sleep stage where the glymphatic system operates at maximum speed is the SWS stage. During this sleep stage, the waste-clearing of the glymphatic system is working about twice as fast as when you’re awake. As we concluded previously, an adapted polyphasic sleeper should not have reduced durations of SWS. Because of this, excess amyloid beta shouldn’t build up after you have adapted, at least to traditional polyphasic schedules with some core sleeps.

There is also another aspect to consider here: Polyphasic sleepers sleep more often than monophasic sleepers. What this means is that there is a possibility for multiple high-speed clearing cycles, or the glymphatic cycles that happen during SWS, to happen within a shorter time if you have multiple blocks of SWS scattered throughout the day than if you only sleep during one block at night. For example, in the siesta schedule, the day core could be expected to contain a certain proportion of SWS. Because of that, the amount of amyloid beta built up between the high-speed glymphatic cycles is going to be smaller than if you slept on a monophasic schedule. This can suggest:

  • If it turned out that light sleep was also responsible for an increased rate of glymphatic waste clearing, this could still result in polyphasic sleeping being no worse than monophasic sleep, and
  • If only SWS is responsible for the clearing of amyloid beta, polyphasic sleeping could actually be more healthy than monophasic sleep on this aspect.


How should a skeptic debunk polyphasic sleeping with this topic? By showing:

  1. That light sleep is responsible for a faster clearing-rate of waste in the brain.
  2. That this isn’t accounted for by sleeping in multiple segments.

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