What Is Biphasic (Segmented) Sleep & Should You Try It?

If your current sleep cycle isn’t working for you and you want to try something different, you might be curious to learn about biphasic sleeping (sometimes referred to as “segmented sleeping.”) According to the Sleep Foundation1, this is a sleep pattern where you split your sleep into two segments. Here are some common biphasic schedules to try, says the Sleep Foundation2:

  • Siesta sleep schedule: A “siesta” is an afternoon nap. Popular in Spain and Italy, people take a 60 to 90-minute nap during the afternoon and only sleep 5-6 hours per night.
  • Midday nap sleep schedule: You’d sleep for 6-7 hours each night and take a 20 to 30-minute nap during the day.
  • First/second sleep schedule: With this schedule, you’d start your first sleep between 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. Then, you’d wake up around midnight and do something (read, eat, write, call a friend, etc.) and then, have your second sleep after that.

According to Psychology Today3, biphasic sleep has its roots in ancient Greece. Middle-of-the-night wakefulness (known as a form of insomnia today) was considered “normal” before the late 19th Century, cites Psychology Today.4 A person would wake up in the middle of the night and engage in an activity for a few hours before returning to bed. Then, the Industrial Revolution hit (hello caffeine, clocks and work schedules) and it became more common to sleep through the night, explains The Atlantic.5

But is biphasic sleep really better for you than a traditional sleeping pattern? At this point, more research needs to be done to find out, says the Sleep Foundation.6 Recently, a study published in ScienceDirect7 shows that biphasic sleepers had lower sleep quality and spent more time in lighter stages of sleep. This research goes along with a warning from the Sleep Foundation8 that says the biggest concern with biphasic sleep is the potential for sleep deprivation.

However, according to Healthline9, some say that biphasic sleeping helps them feel more alert and productive during the day. If you’re interested in trying it, the Sleep Foundation10 recommends taking a 20-minute nap during the early afternoon to ease into the biphasic sleep schedule.

Getting enough sleep is an important part to living a healthy, productive life. It’s not necessary to change your sleeping schedule, especially if you feel rested and you’re sleeping well. But if you want to make a change to your pattern, talk to your doctor first. They might have a few other suggestions on how to improve your sleep quality and increase your energy levels during the day. And remember, no matter what schedule you try, you should aim to get seven hours of sleep each night, says the Sleep Foundation.11


  1. “Biphasic Sleep: What It Is and How It Works,” Sleep Foundation, last accessed September 20, 2022, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/biphasic-sleep
  2. “Biphasic Sleep: What It Is and How It Works”
  3. “Segmented Sleep May Boost Productivity, but is it Healthy?,” Psychology Today, last accessed September 20, 2022, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychiatry-and-sleep/202202/segmented-sleep-may-boost-productivity-is-it-healthy
  4. “Segmented Sleep May Boost Productivity, but is it Healthy?”
  5. “Can Medieval Sleeping Habits Fix America’s Insomnia?,” The Atlantic, last accessed September 20, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/01/medieval-sleeping-habits-insomnia-segmented-biphasic/621372/
  6. “Biphasic Sleep: What It Is and How It Works”
  7. “Adverse Impact of Polyphasic Sleep Patterns in Humans: Report of the National Sleep Foundation Sleep Timing and Variability Consensus Panel,” ScienceDirect, last accessed September 20, 2022, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721821000309
  8. “Biphasic Sleep: What It Is and How It Works”
  9. “What is Biphasic Sleep,” Healthline, last accessed September 20, 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/biphasic-sleep
  10. “Biphasic Sleep: What It Is and How It Works”
  11. “Biphasic Sleep: What It Is and How It Works”