Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Power of Sleep: Choose Your Sleep Cycle

Think twice before you forgo sleep for a more time-efficient nap. While taking catnaps can open up more time for your TOEFL preparations, depriving your body of its much-needed rest time can drastically affect your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, dull your memory retention and reduce your overall cognitive performance. These setbacks can compromise your exam preparation efforts.

Choose Your Sleep Cycle

For instance, attending training facilities, like TOEFL review centers in Makati, require not just a healthy mind but a healthy body as well. To make the most out of your exam-focused course, you have to  travel to and from the TOEFL review center, retain enough energy to focus on your class discussions, internalize all the lessons about each exam component and apply them. Depriving yourself of your much-needed sleep compromises your mental faculties and physical health, and this may not be the best idea.

Despite all these points, there are ways that you can shift your sleep routine to accommodate your exam preparation needs. Slowly switching to a polyphasic sleep schedule can extend your “awake” time without sacrificing your overall productivity.

The polyphasic sleep schedule refers to the practice of sleeping for two or more times a day. It is the unconventional counterpart of the more commonly practiced monophasic sleep cycle, which involves sleeping in one long period (an average of eight hours),  usually during nighttime.

Many Latin countries follow a biphasic sleep schedule, which is composed of two rest periods of varying lengths, in compliance to their “siesta” tradition. Similar sleep schedules are practiced by many university students to meet the demands of their courses.

Deliberately shifting to a polyphasic schedule, as opposed to the ingrained cultural practice of siesta and the practice out of necessity observed from college students, is a process of trial and error. Results of the sleep routine conversion vary from person to person.

If you want to try and find out which schedule best suits you, here are the four alternative sleep cycles that you can choose from:

Biphasic Cycle

Specifications:
•    Two rest periods       
•    Five to six hours of sleep during nighttime
•    One nap during daytime
Advantages:
•    Elevates cognitive performance and memory retention
•    Reduces stress and provides much-needed energy boost
•    Promotes good cardiovascular health, especially when naps are taken after lunch
Disadvantages:
•    Encourages development of sleep issues
•    Perpetuates bad sleeping habits for insomniacs

Everyman Cycle

Total rest period: 4 hours and 30 minutes
Specifications:
•    Four rest periods
•    Three and a half hours of sleep during nighttime
•    Three 20-minute naps scattered evenly during daytime
Advantages:
•    Increases hours of “awake” time
•    Promotes flexibility in nap schedule, especially after adjustment
Disadvantages:
•    Requires daytime napping
•    Results to four and a half hours of sleep per day


Dymaxion Cycle

Total rest period: 2 hours
Specifications:
•    Four rest periods
•    Four 30-minute naps scattered evenly throughout the day
Advantages:
•    Increases hours of “awake” time
•    Requires only four naps per day, especially after adjustment
Disadvantages:    
•    Encourages strict adherence to sleep cycle
•    Extremely difficult to adapt

Uberman Cycle

Total rest period: 2 hours and 40 minutes 
Specifications:
•    Six to eight rest periods
•    Six to eight 20-minute naps scattered evenly throughout the day
Advantages:
•    Increases hours of “awake” time
•    Ingrains the ability to sleep or nap anytime and anywhere, especially after adjustment 
Disadvantages:
•    Requires strict adherence to sleep cycle
•    Extremely impractical and difficult to adapt
Regardless of these sleep schedules’ difficulty in execution, many historical personalities have successfully practiced similar rest routines. Leonardo Da Vinci followed the Uberman sleep cycle, thriving on 10-minute naps every two hours of his life. Nikola Tesla, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison and Napoleon Bonaparte also practiced polyphasic sleep routines.

Consider your schedule in your TOEFL review center and how it coincides with the specifications of the mentioned alternative sleep routines. Acknowledge the travel time to and fro your training facility. The TOEFL review center in Makati, for instance, is located in the heart of the city. Commuting in metropolitan areas often consume more time due to the heavy traffic that constantly plagues such cities.

All in all, it all boils down to your body’s capacity to function with minimal rest. Keep in mind that other than the biphasic cycle, these sleep schedules only extend your “awake” time, at least at the beginning. The bursts of energy acquired after each nap time do not always come with enhanced mental performance. These benefits will come once you have adapted to your chosen sleep schedule. Due to the dramatic shift from monophasic to polyphasic routine, some, like the Dymaxion and the Uberman cycles, are extremely difficult to adapt.

Given all these points and the importance of the TOEFL exam, it is essential that you choose your alternative sleep schedule wisely.


REFERENCES:

  • Janes, Brett. “4 Alternative Sleeping Cycles That You Didn’t Know About.” Dreams. Accessed January 04, 2017. http://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/4-alternative-sleeping-cycles-infographic/
  • Martino, Joe. “Alternative Sleep Cycles: 7-10 Hours Not Needed.” Collective-Evolution. July 13, 2013. Accessed January 04, 2017. http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/07/13/alternative-sleep-cycles-7-10-hours-is-not-needed/
  • Sterbenz, Christina. “These Alternative Sleep Schedules Could Save You 20 Years Normally Spent In Bed.” Business Insider. November 04, 2013. Accessed January 04, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/polyphasic-sleep-schedules-and-benefits-2013-10
  • Gustus, Devin. “Geniuses With Polyphasic Sleep Schedules” Stay Awake. December 03, 2013. Accessed January 04, 2017. http://stay-awake.info/geniuses-sleep-patterns-uberman-sleep-schedule

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