I started this blog writing project during the height of covid-19 in a fit of boredom, but I continue to write the blog because advocating for better sleep and more focused work is something that I enjoy. For my work, I am an academic sleep researcher. Sleep is something that we all do, and it can help us to think clearly, communicate effectively, and work efficiently. Sleeping well and helping others sleep well are both important to me. Sleep is an accessible way to support proper brain and physical function. As someone who has repeatedly seen people’s health decline in old age, I want to be an advocate for better sleep as a possible means of maintaining good health in both the short and long term. My current research questions involve the impact of sleep on healthy aging in racially/ethnically diverse adults (learn more about my research here).
Working as a researcher, academic, or student is not easy. We work with ideas that are not necessarily constrained to any specific time or place, and it can sometimes feel consuming. There are times that academic work has been incredibly stressful for me, and I iteratively explore methods to manage it, apply those methods, and readjust my workflow as necessary. Finding new methods to be productive can be fun. Of course, we should first sleep well before applying any productivity strategies. Then, there are workflow systems to try in addition to maintaining good sleep. With this blog, I share my experiences with others who may need recommendations for ways to navigate research life and work as an academic.
Why I keep writing the blog
Although covid-19 is still present, I am no longer bored. I can go to the gym. I can visit friends and family in small groups and outdoor settings. I am now a postdoctoral research scientist, and that comes with more responsibility and higher expectations than my dissertation work. For example, I am writing multiple grant proposals, working on several manuscripts, and attending weekly workgroup meetings. This is all to say that I am sufficiently booked with other engagements. The Research Life blog is no longer a bored, covid-19 project. It is something that I make time and space for because I want to, not because I have nothing else to do.
The blog is a space where I want to foster my readers’ curiosities about sleep. I want people to understand its complexity, ask questions about it, explore it on their own, and respect it as a necessity. This blog will be a written practice of sleep advocacy. It is a first step towards achieving better work than that when sleep is poor.
A second step to working well is developing a system by using a combination of strategies. No one’s workflow is exactly the same. We all have our preferences for how we do things. Here, I will communicate how I work as an academic researcher and writer, and my hope is that some of the strategies and tools that I communicate with others will be helpful for their workflows. The articles here may be used to help others adopt new strategies or even with helping them to eliminate strategies that do not work for them. Either way, I count it as a success.
What readers can expect
Readers can expect at least three things from me: transparency, regular posts, and engagement. In terms of transparency I will do my best to give an objective, broad account of research findings. When giving my opinion, I will clearly mention that. If I feel as if there are obvious conflicts of interests or biases in the way that I view a topic or a set of results, I will acknowledge that. If there are clear limitations in the literature, I will mention them. Second, I will aim to regularly update and post articles to the blog (~2 per month). Lastly, readers can expect me to engage with them about blog articles, my academic work, or any general sleep questions. I am always happy to answer questions about sleep and will do my best to be responsive within a timely manner.
What I would like for readers
I would like my readers to have a fun experience with The Research Life blog. I ask that my readers maintain open minds, and I hope that the blog invokes a sense of curiosity about sleep, as well as achieving focused work and balance between primary work and leisure time. If people have questions, I will do my best to answer them. I would like my readers to engage with the content produced here and to be active in how they consume the information. I am open to suggestions about future articles and would enjoy hearing feedback from readers. Ultimately, I hope that the readers of The Research Life remain curious about sleep, take their sleep seriously, regularly review their sleep systems, and also, learn to apply efficient work systems. For everyone, including myself, I hope for a well-rested physical and mental foundation so that we can think clearly, function properly, and live well.