The wonders of sleep

It seems like I always lose the most sleep when I'm feeling pressed for time at work, but this might be the fatal error that stands between me and my academic potential.

I've had a "beef" with an author in the literature review I've been working on, but I couldn't articulate exactly what it was for weeks and weeks. Even though I take lots of reading notes, there is something so slippery about this argument that I couldn't quite put my finger on what was bothering me about it. This morning, after getting a couple of extra hours of sleep and then taking a stab at this first thing after breakfast, I quickly figured out not only what my problem is with this argument, but also how to articulate my critique with supportive evidence from other sources. It feels like a major breakthrough in this manuscript, and it will make it a much stronger piece.

I've always been an advocate of "power-napping" but this is all just reminding me how important sleep is to my productivity. I will have to up my sleep quota to make me more productive. What about you? How many hours of sleep do you get on average? What about when you are swamped with work and trying to squeeze more minutes out of each day?

5 comments:

JaneB said...

I love sleep! And it's amazing how good my subconcious is at working out some knotty problem whilst sleeping...

Z said...

I always used to sleep - wouldn't have thought of not doing it. In that first year of assistant professorship I was horrified - there was enough work that it appeared they expected you not to sleep. This went away.

In this job, though, I have a vexed relationship with sleep. I often want to stay up late because I want to extend the part of the day that is off campus, and I've had periods of using sleep deprivation on purpose as a tool to limit myself. All of this is a bad idea.

Frances said...

Alice you make some very good points that seem like common sense yet I am always trying to burn the candle on both ends and wonder why I am always so tired. Thank you for the gentle reminder that sleep is just as important as working. I will need to try to put in more hours of sleep. I generally get about 5 hours of sleep which I am sure is not enough but I have become accustom to this. I wonder what life would look and feel like if I actually got 8 hours each night.

Z said...

Well, others are trying to reform their lives by writing every day but I am not there yet - I am at the level of relearning to sleep and exercise every day, so that's that! In the past I never doubted my rights to those things, or to writing, and it's odd to see how hard they are to reclaim, but there it is.

AliceAcademic said...

JaneB: I just thought that it was feeling well-rested that helped me perform better, but it hadn't occurred to me that my subconscious may have been at work!

Z: I have a similar feeling about wanting to stay up late to extend that part of the day. It is also dark and quiet and has that "cave-like" feeling, which gives me the false idea that I can actually get another half-day's work done after dinner. In reality, I know that this is warped thinking which comes out of my exhaustion, which gets worse as the night wears on and the self-delusion continues.

Z and Frances: It does seem like there is an assumption that junior faculty don't sleep much. I'm sure that one factor that contributes to my behavior and probably others too is that there are few social rewards, so to speak, for women who are good at taking care of themselves. Instead, women who draw good boundaries to care for themselves are viewed as cold and uncaring. Society would prefer that we become martyrs, and give excessively, even if that ends up costing more in the long run. I'd say relearning to sleep and exercise every day is a most worthy cause!