Type to search

Average Sleep

If you are asking yourself “What is average sleep? What should I be aiming for? And how does polyphasic sleep compare to average monophasic sleep?” Then this will give you some numbers to go by.

Age 20 Averages

7.5h Total Sleep Time, 16min Sleep Onset Latency

90min SWS (20%TST), 99min REM (22%TST)

Age 40 Sleep Averages – (the oldest age before we start to see major hormonal changes)

7.1h Total Sleep Time, 17min Sleep Onset Latency

64min SWS (15%TST), 85min REM (20%TST)

Source: Meta-Analysis of Quantitative Sleep Parameters From Childhood to Old Age in Healthy Individuals: Developing Normative Sleep Values Across the Human Lifespan

From these averages we can lay out a spectrum of sleep type totals for us to compare to. SWS is more valuable than REM in terms of restoration, the zeo scientists value SWS 3x as much as REM. On the other hand there should likely be a minimum amount of REM to remain healthy which might be about an hour. The closer you are to minimum REM, the more SWS you need. There is also probably a maximum before we start to see problems like mortality or depression, too much of either SWS or REM (probably over 2h). So we have a range of each stage, between 1-2 hours. If we want to be most efficient we are going to weight it toward the SWS heavy side of the spectrum, for reasons explained below.

Sleep type totals are not going to be the only factors… sleep continuity interruptions (flickering sleep stages), or awakenings (total disruption of sleep stages) are going to lower your sleep health score compared to the normal, the more interruptions or awakenings you have the more it will drop.

Here are a few sws/rem sleep totals you can compare yourself to if you around the age of 20:

SWS / REM (mins)
100 / 70
95 / 85
90 / 100
85 / 115
80 / 130

If your SWS / REM values fall close to any of these categories, you are sleeping average quality. If your SWS / REM is higher than these values, you are doing better. It means that your sleep is healthier than a normal person’s 7.5 hour sleep!

Older adults get significantly less SWS, so here are a few sws/rem sleep totals you can compare yourself to if you are around the age of 40:

SWS / REM (mins)
70 / 67
65 / 82
62 / 90
60 / 97
55 / 112

You should be aiming to get the average 20 year old sleeping pattern if you are aiming for ideal health. You should be aiming for your age related average if you simply want to avoid any health detriments when altering your sleeping pattern.

You can calculate your own sleep quality for comparison we can follow a formula outlined here.

Fitting Sleep Avereages into Polyphasic Sleep

It is inevitable someone is going to ask ‘then what is perfect sleep?. There is no perfect sleep, but there is a perfect spectrum of sleep… If you were aiming for sleep efficiency and average health, then perfect efficiency (assuming you were doing uberman or something similar) would look something like 100min SWS + 70min REM. minimum average sleep totals are are not a true minimum, because some light sleep is required for transitional states and you can expect to get at least 10% light sleep… so add 10% to your “minimum average total” to make a “realistic total”. 10% of 170min is 17min light sleep, which means a realistic minimum sleep total is 187min or 3.1h.

If you were aiming for perfect sleep health (scoring 25% higher than average on my sleep health scale), then you could probably go for 120min SWS, and 90 min REM and lets say the 24min of light sleep, which is achievable in a 4h total.

Lets fit that ‘perfect sleep health’ sleep stage totals into the DC1 model:
120min SWS and 30min REM and 60min Light in your 3.5h core sleep
45min REM and 30min Light in your second core
15min REM and 5min light in your midday nap
A 5h total, with 40% SWS, 30% REM, 30% Light.

^^Someone could do much better, obviously, but most people should be able to achieve this.

 Average Sleep and Adolescents/Teenagers

There is nothing to say polyphasic sleep should be unhealthy for adolescents and teenagers, but both need much more sleep than an average adult. They are still learning a lot in school and in life, and therefore require more REM:SWS than an adult.

Teens, on average, get more total sleep (475min) while keeping the same % of REM (~22%), which increases their REM total from an average 100mins to 105mins. Their % of SWS increases quite a lot (due to the requirement for more hormone production for growth, and memory consolidation for learning) to 30%* which increases SWS total from an average of 90 minutes to 142 minutes!

*Calculations are dependent on different data analysis to the one in the journal cited above.

An example 15 year old teen has a minimum average sleep total of 142min SWS + 105min REM (= 247min)! Again, minimum average sleep totals are are not a true minimum, because some light sleep is required for transitional states and you can expect to get at least 10% light sleep. Therefore a realistic minimum sleep total for a 15 year old teenager is 272 minutes or 4.53h .

I hope this makes you better understand why we discourage kids and teens from doing a severely reduced sleep schedule. Minors should NOT do a polyphasic sleep schedule unless under supervision of a parent or doctor with a sleep recording device like a Zeo.

Conclusion

It is reasonable for any healthy person of any age to do polyphasic sleep, from babies to adults to geriatrics, but ONLY if you are getting your required SWS:REM totals.

Learn More:

We have compiled the largest volume of information on Polyphasic Sleep currently available anywhere. Inside Polyphasic Sleep Mastery ebook you will find everything you need to get started with Polyphasic sleep. Entire chapters on mastering your productivity, habits and your psychology to make the most effective use of your extra time while on Polyphasic Sleep. It is not about how "LONG" you sleep, its about how powerful and energizing the sleep you actually get is...

December 18th, 2012 by

5 Comments

  1. Jason February 4, 2017

    That totally describes my sleep!

    Reply
  2. Han-Lin December 26, 2017

    I read articles about the benefits of stage 2 sleep. Do you think we can just replace stage 2 sleep with REM and deep sleep without problems?
    http://splus.resmed.com/important-light-sleep/

    Also, to really tell whether polyphasic sleep is restful, we need to measure objective alertness. Experiments showed that 6 hours wasn’t good enough even though the subjects felt alert two weeks later.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sleep-t.html

    Reply
  3. Pandagirl_Jamie March 7, 2018

    Hi, I have recently become interested in trying out polyphasic sleep of some kind. I am currently 15 and I have seen some things against teenagers using a polyphasic schedule. Are those things true? Despite the warnings, I’m still interested. I feel like I may benefit from polyphasic sleep because I feel like my circadian rhythm isn’t “normal”. My main reason to believe this is that I don’t remember my dreams, nor have I felt like I’ve ever have had a REM dream. I have noticed that I only remember my dreams if I sleep between 1-2 pm. Should I attempt polyphasic sleep?? Also, how would you calculate REM minutes?

    Reply
  4. Natalie September 28, 2018

    Hi there,
    From what you described, I don’t think you have any need to be concerned. Many people (myself included) aren’t able to recall their dreams all the time. This has more to do with how your mind “wakes up” in relation to your last REM cycle; hence why you remember your dreams when you nap since you are most likely waking very close to a period of REM sleep.

    Reply
  5. Martin October 7, 2018

    What exactly is SWS (Slow-Wave-Sleep) and is it needed?

    I see it is incorporated in DC1 (Dual Core 1), but SWS is missing in DC3 and Uberman… Does this just mean that it takes longer to adapt to?

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Polyphasic Sleep Mastery E-BOOK

orange-access-now