Better Grad Student

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40 Days of Tips, Tricks, and Links: Days 22 & 23

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You probably won't be sleeping here....I hope some of you laughed a little at my attempt at an April Fool’s joke. Polyphasic sleep is a real thing btw, and I’d love to actually talk to somebody that has attempted it. Here’s a real post that will give you some advice that you can actually put into practice…

This past weekend was a very busy weekend for my wife and me, and it left us feeling pretty tired come Monday morning. Being tired is a common symptom among grad students. Unfortunately, you’re not at your best when you’re tired. No matter how hard you try, you can’t function well on too little sleep. Sleeping well is just as important as anything else you do to take care of yourself (think eating and breathing), yet we often don’t allow ourselves enough time to get a full nights rest. This fact got me thinking about some ways to make falling asleep better and with that in mind, I want to share two useful tips that I find help me fall asleep faster.

Quickly falling asleep is often a skill that I hear many people say they wish they had. Most people will tell you that they lie awake for hours wishing they could fall asleep. I am generally able to fall asleep very fast, but there are times when it does take me a while. When this happens, I have one fool-proof way to get back on track and get to sleep. When I feel my mind start to wander, or I feel like I’m struggling with relaxing, I start to recall my day from the very beginning. I start trying to remember every single thing that I did through out the day from the moment the alarm went off. I try to recall every action I did, every website I visited, and even what I saw on my drive in. I usually don’t get very far before I start drifting off. I don’t think I’ve actually been able to get past lunchtime before I’ve fallen asleep. It works like a charm every time I use this technique. The next time you start feeling like you’re not going to be able to fall asleep, switch gears and revisit your day. Hopefully, this technique help you fall asleep faster and gain a few precious minutes during the night.

My second tip is pretty non-specific, but it applies to everyone. It’s this: find what makes you most comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to sleep well. For each person it’s different, but I am positive that everybody knows what they want out of comfortable sleeping arrangments. For me, it’s a slightly firm, yet soft mattress, almost no light, and a slightly chilly with some sort of constant low-level noise in the background (preferably a fan). Put me in this environment and I’m out. I’ve met some people who love it when it’s warm in the room; some people like more light when they sleep. Whatever your preference, test out each of these variables. Find out what makes it easier for you to sleep and make it a regular part of your life. Don’t be chintzy either; if your mattress came from the 90’s, then it’s definitely time to upgrade. You know what makes you comfortable, so make your bedroom an environent that is uber-comfortable and relaxing.

Treat sleep with the respect it deserves. In the future I’ll do a more detailed post about sleep (and I’ll talk about why I’m a pretty big fan of sleep) but for now, try to help yourself by making sure that you can fall asleep quickly. You can’t function properly when you don’t get enough food or oxygen, and you need to start putting sleeping up there with these essentials. Try these tips out and see if they have a positive effect on your work and life. Let me know if you have any success!

Please tell me what you think in the comments. Also, if you like what you’ve been reading here, sign up at the top of the page to receive emails every time I make a new post. Thank you for reading!


Written by Taylor M.

April 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm

40 Days of Tips, Tricks, and Links: Day 21

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Photo by kaibara87

Efficiency in anything you do is a very logical goal. Who wants to spend more time than necessary accomplishing some task? Being efficient in grad school gives you more time to experience life outside of school. Imagine being able to gain over 40 hours a week to do what you please! With this extra time, you can choose to reinvest it in your work, or you can choose to learn something new. Perhaps your piles of money need counting, or maybe you want to take your Maserati to get polished again. Whatever the goal, having extra time can be a massive boon to your success in life.

The least efficient action you take right now is sleeping. Most everybody you know keeps a monophasic sleep cycle: sleep in one big chunk during the day and stay awake for about 16 hours. But if we want to make sleep more efficient, then monophasic isn’t going to cut it. Polyphasic is the way to go. Polyphasic sleep allows you to sleep for only 2 hours total in the day and gives you a massive 22 hours to do with what you please. The key to polyphasic sleep is entering the REM cycle of your sleep quickly. If you can learn to do this, then you can be in peak performance with just 2 hours of sleep per day. This 2 hours is broken up over the entire day in 20 minute naps every for hours. Once you train your body to immediately enter REM sleep upon falling asleep, the total time you need to sleep will be decreased and you will feel amazingly rested after each nap.

If you really want to be truly successful in graduate school and in your future career, you need to be more competitive and accomplish more than your peers. With polyphasic sleep you can claim that you have more hours in your day than anybody else. Nobody would be able to compete with you because every day you’d be able accomplish more than double the work they could possibly hope to do. You would truly be an unstoppable grad student machine and you would finally discover the meaning of life. Polyphasic sleep is the way to go for everyone in academia. And if you’re still reading this and aren’t convinced, well, then happy April Fool’s Day! Here are some of my favorite pranks from today. Enjoy!

Please tell me what you think in the comments! Also, if you like what you’ve been reading here, sign up at the top of the page to receive emails every time I make a new post. Thank you for reading!

Written by Taylor M.

April 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm