Activities like weight bearing exercise and fasting provide benefits when done in an intermittent, non-chronic fashion. We often talk of sleep though as the sacred thing we shouldn't even think about messing with.
I'm curious though to know if there could be any benefits to some very intermittent sleep deprivation. I always notice that when I miss some sleep one night, the next night will bring extremely vivid dreams and a deeper sleep. Is there any hormones of processes that get up-regulated or down-regulated by that process that could trigger a beneficial effect? Are we getting more efficient with our sleep by doing that?
I'm sure our ancestors had times when they had fewer hours of sleep for multiple reasons without being metabolically affected by it. Now, was there any benefit to that provided you regained the lost hours of sleep the following night?
Granted, even if this idea as some truth we probably don't have to consciously deprive ourselves of sleep because we all have periods where we are forced to sleep less, but could those periods be less dangerous on our health than expected, especially if adjusting other lifestyle factors like exercise and nutrition so they support the lack of sleep?