“Here, sleep kitty, kitty!”
Polyphasic sleep is an invention of the Star Trek universe first introduced in Star Trek:Voyager. It is a special method of sleeping that helps repel Borg attacks, and once implemented helped save the crew from several nighttime raids.
As Voyager approached the edges of Borg territory, Lieutenant Torres discovered that Borg nanoprobes utilize the delta and theta waves of the normal sleeping brain to implant Borg behaviors into the victim. The further revelation of the long range Borg propaganda device -- the fan-reviled "dream beam", so named by ne'er-do-well helmsman Tom Paris -- necessitated the development of some sort of sleep protection for the Voyager crew.
The Doctor and Torres experimented with different ways to block the sleep incursions and developed "polyphasic sleep shielding". By rotating the frequencies of the delta and theta waves in a suitably random fashion, Borg probes could not adapt quickly enough and were eventually eliminated by the immune system. The polyphasic sleep enhancements were administered through a small mechanical component attached to the temple during sleep. These components were reverse-engineered from the cortical stimulators found in sickbay.
As with most of the problems encountered by Voyager, it was a far-reaching and fatal danger that was quickly neutralized and rarely brought up again. The polyphasic sleep technology was useful in Borg space and occasionally when facing sleep-based aliens, but didn't have a lasting impact on the show.
The Star Trek fanbase was split on the topic of polyphasic sleep. Some felt that it was yet another technobabble deus ex machina employed during the scriptwriting wasteland that was early season 4. Others embraced the notion of exerting manual control over a normally subconscious process and attempted to adapt polyphasic sleep to twentieth-century life.
In 1999 there were largely unsubstantiated reports that some fans had adjusted their delta and theta waves by adopting a masochistic "uberman" sleep schedule, with six thirty-minute naps spread evenly throughout the day. They were able to effect this schedule with a controlled regimen of Mountain Dew and being unemployed while living in their parents' basement.
These fans claimed that there was evidence that this method of sleeping had been pioneered by Leonardo Da Vinci, and that the appearance of polyphasic sleep in Voyager was another reference to the Leonardo holodeck program. More claims about famous historical figures were made, with the common factors being that all were considered geniuses in their field and all are now dead.
This list was compiled in a Usenet posting and circulated at Star Trek conventions for several years, to the point that it is now accepted as fact to the pseudoscientific community.
- Episode 68: Scorpion (1)
- Episode 69: Scorpion (2)
- Episode 74: The Raven
- Episode 81: Waking Moments
- Episode 88: Vis A Vis
- Episode 93: One
- Episode 96: Drone
- Episode 101: Infinite Regress
- Episode 108: Bliss
- Episode 122: Survival Instinct
- Episode 69,105: Earth at Last--No, Really, Seriously, We Mean It This Time