As PhD students, we’re knowledge workers in the business of intellectual production. The self-determined quest for truth or knowledge is a huge privilege. Yet it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task at hand: to successfully manage a several-year project and, crucially, yourself. Given the nature of the research process, fatigue or drowsiness may soon become a troubling issue.
Thinking and writing can be tiresome – literally. We usually expect the magic to happen while gazing at a screen, sitting up and fully conscious. Now of course intellectual production and mental alertness is a very personal thing. You may be an early bird or a late riser, plan things step-by-step or prefer to muddle through, work better from your office space or in a café. But isn’t that typical midday dip from about 1 to 3 p.m. – post-cafeteria fatigue – something that unites us all? Next to PhD candidates’ archenemies of distraction and procrastination, don’t we all share those foggy-brained states of sliding into lazy thinking or fighting to stay awake?
Turns out that forcing your tired memory neurons to unduly fire during the siesta hours is simply not an effective strategy for surviving the cognitive slump: as sleep experts – and common sense – will tell you, simply hanging in there usually results in downslope concentration and recollection or, worse, bad decision-making and outright sloppy work. Finding a balance between immersion and relaxation that works for you is probably the key to successful brooding and typing about your topic of inquiry. And just like regular exercise and eating healthy are often recommended, sufficient sleep matters! So why not try napping your way to the PhD? Continue reading