I’ve been doing a little research on sleep. I have found that the more I understand about nutrition, the better I eat. And I thought the same would hold true for sleep. In fact, though on my way to convincing myself to sleep more, I found mostly research to help me sleep less.

But first, here is the research that will make you want to sleep: If you don’t sleep, you’re more likely to be obese and dumb, both of which are bad for your career.

People who get fewer than six hours of sleep function like drunk people at work. For example people who missed just one night of sleep scored 20% lower on math tests than they did when they had eight hours of sleep. And, people who get significantly fewer than eight hours a night of sleep are more likely to be obese, according to a study at the University of British Columbia.

Here’s some research I didn’t expect to see:

Humans need only six or seven hours of sleep. In fact, if you get more than that, you are likely to die earlier, according to researchers from the University of California at San Diego.

And here's more good news for the chronic night-owl who suffers with a day job: If you miss out on sleep, you don’t need to make it all up. Only about a third of this lost sleep needs to be regained. The people who spend all weekend in bed catching up don’t need that much sleep. They just like lying around in bed.

You don’t even have to wait for the weekend to make up the sleeping time: Power naps are in fashion — at least among elite athletes and soldiers in Iraq, both of whom are required to take power naps before a major effort. The power nap should be exactly twenty minutes, according to sleep researcher Sara Mednick, at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Your sleep cycles run in 90 or 120 minute cycles, but after twenty minutes you’ve done the most important part of your sleeping.

I am an easy convert to the idea of a power nap, but I never seem to wake up at that magical twenty minute mark when researchers say that I won’t be groggy. I am, in fact, routinely groggy after my supposed power nap. And that groggy feeling when you wake up is the equivalent of you after four beers, according to Kenneth Wright at the University of Colorado. So the power nap is not for me.

But here’s my favorite study, the one that really pulls everything together: The caffeine nap. This is a nap that allows me to compensate for not quite getting my seven hours of sleep a night, but I don’t feel groggy after the nap.

Researchers at Loughborough University in England found that coffee can clear your body of the sleep-inducing chemical adenosine. The best way to handle the caffeine is to chug a cup of coffee and then immediately take a nap, before the caffeine kicks in and makes for jittery napping. The nap should last exactly fifteen minutes, which is the point at which the caffeine starts to gain traction in your brain.

I did it today, head on the table, next to the computer, when I was sure that I could not keep my eyes open another second: Fifteen minutes and boom! I was writing again with perk and verve.

Of course the caffeine nap will not save the world from having to sleep. For one thing, there’s no research to show that caffeine nap can help you beat the correlation between lack of sleep and obesity. But I’ll tell you, I’ll never aim for eight hours of sleep again.

It might shock you to hear that it’s easier to find money to fund your business idea than it is to find an idea. A good idea, that is. There are two kinds of good ideas. The first one is for a small business that will not grow but will sustain the lifestyle you want for yourself: Opening a gift shop on a Hawaiian beach, for example. The second kind of idea is one that will be big. Big in that you can grow into a big player or you can sell to a big player.

A lot of people have ideas, but they don’t dwell on them because people assume startup money is hard to come by. But it’s not. So don’t be shy about moving forward with an idea.

The fastest source for money when you have no money is, of course, your credit card. Almost forty percent of small businesses owners started their company with credit cards. If you can get one of those 0% interest offers, the credit card option starts looking particularly good. But if you lose the money, it’s your money. So don't use credit if you can’t afford to pay it back.

Angel investors are constantly looking to invest in companies that will grow big. If you have this kind of idea there are plenty of angels to choose from. A good place to start is online, looking for people who invest in early stage companies in your market.

The important issues will be finding someone smart and experienced who can help you grow the company to the next stage. In exchange for giving up a percentage of the ownership of your company, you should get solid mentoring as well as money. The network and advice that an angel offers is what separates the amazing ones from the mediocre.

If your business will not be big, then your pool of angels is pretty much limited to people who know you well and want to do you a favor. But there are ways you can structure a deal so that your friends and family feel like it's a decent investment. First, offer to pay an interest rate a little higher than a bank would pay. If that doesn’t work, offer to give equity in the company. Paying a percentage of profits is very cumbersome since you’ll likely have to produce detailed financial statements. So make that an offer of last resort.

By all means, put together a professional presentation for the angels. But keep in mind that on some level, these people come to the table based on their trust and respect for you. And that’s what you are trading on when it comes to early-stage funding. This is especially true if you’ve never started a company before and can’t sell yourself based on your track record.

This is not such bad news, though, because most of you can come up with a list of fifty people who trust you. The list of people who trust you and have money to invest is probably shorter. So divide the list into As, Bs and Cs. The As are people who have a lot of money and a lot of investments. The Bs are financially stable people who would think very, very hard before forking over $25,000. The Cs are people who don't really have the financial resources to invest in your operation, but they might vouch for you to someone they know who does have money. Practice your pitch on your Cs and Bs so that by the time you get to your As you really know what you’re doing.

The most important thing, no matter what kind of business you are pitching, is to not give up early. If there are no investors, you might have a clunker of an idea on your hands. But a little rejection happens to a lot of good ideas. So brace yourself as you look for funding and keep going right past the rejections. You might be a star as an entrepreneur and you’ll never know until you try.

Many twentysomethings talk about feeling undervalued by corporate America. Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman are doing what many others are doing to solve this problem: starting their own company. At universities like Harvard and Carnegie Mellon 30-40% of graduates end up starting their own business after five years, and the trend is poised to go up.

The entry-level job inherently undervalues someone who is bright and driven, according to Paul Graham, partner at Y Combinator, a Cambridge-based venture capital firm that funds startups almost exclusively from very young people. He sees entrepreneurship as the great escape.

“For the most ambitious young people, the corporate ladder is obsolete,” says Graham. For the last hundred years everyone started out at the bottom. Even if the candidate held extreme promise, corporations put the candidate as a trainee on the bottom rung so he didn’t get a big head. Graham writes, “The most productive young people will always be undervalued by large organizations, because the young have no performance to measure yet, and any error in guessing their ability will tend toward the mean.”

So, if you are smart and energetic, you might be better off working for yourself. Ohanian and Huffman started their own company before they even graduated from University of Virginia. Today they are twenty-two, and running their company, Reddit, out of their Cambridge apartment. Huffman turned down a job offer at a software company in Virginia so that he could write the software for Reddit, which is a little like social book marking and a little like RSS feed: Think “the five most emailed Boston Globe stories” only not just the newspaper but the whole wide web.

The value of people in their twenties is touted fervently at Google, a company always on the lookout to buy companies from young entrepreneurs. On a blog entry about a conference for entrepreneurs in their early twenties, Chris Sacca, principal for new business development at Google wrote, “I was instantly struck by the sheer energy of the crowd. No one was running off to check in with their assistant or jump onto a mindless conference call with sales finance.”

Graham estimates that a top programmer can work for $80,000 a year in a large company, but he can be 36 more times productive without corporate trappings (e.g. a boss, killed projects, interruptions) and will generate something worth three million dollars in that same year if he is working on his own. Before you balk at those figures, consider that Ohanian and Huffman started their company in June 2005 and by November 2005 they received a buyout offer from Google, (which they declined in favor of continuing to build the company on their own.)

But not everyone is sitting on a great idea for a company. For those who eventually want to start your own business — once your find an idea — use the time beforehand to learn the right skills. Jennifer Floren, CEO of Experience and an entrepreneur herself, recommends going to a small company “where you will usually be able to see first hand what each part of the company does. At a big company you won’t get such wide exposure.” Also, “look for opportunities to be creative or take a leadership role, two good types of experience for an entrepreneur to have.”

If you have spent some time in the workforce, consider becoming a consultant, which essentially is making a business out of yourself. “You should have at least five years of workplace experience before you go on your own,” says Laurie Young, co-principle of Flexible Resources, “because you are offering your experience.” Also, you need marketing skills to sell yourself.” It takes a certain kind of talent “to show people you have skills they can use.”

Alexandra Levit worked in public relations for Computer Associates and then struck out on her own, as a consultant in publicity and marketing communications. In terms of making the transition, Levit advises that you “try lining up a few jobs that you can have before you take the leap,” and be prepared to spend “about 30% of your time marketing yourself.”

Levit provides a snapshot of reality for all entrepreneurs when she says, “Don’t expect the drawbacks to be only financial. You need a lot of self-discipline to sit down in your home office and work without any external pressure. Working for yourself means you’re responsible for every aspect of the business,” and this means, ironically, even the boring, entry-level job that you would have done in a big company.

Ohanim can attest to this, too: “I am spending a lot of time right now doing our taxes. We merged with a company and they kept terrible records.” But, he says, “I really like the notion of not having to look to a superior, to have independence and be doing the entrepreneurial thing.”

The best advice anyone will give you as a manager is to be kind and caring and make the world a better place. This does not mean that you should be a pushover or a flower child. You still need to get your work done, be a star performer, etc. But serious kindness gets you serious results.

It’s not always easy to be kind. Here are some ways it’s hard: You need to tell people with no talent for what they are doing that they are in the wrong field. Then you need to fire them and tell them this will help them find what they are good at. And you have to tell people who have lots of talent but unbearable personalities that their co-workers don’t like them and they need to be more likeable to get anywhere in life. This is difficult news to pass on, and managers who don’t care ignore the problem or shuffle the person off to a new, unsuspecting manager. A kind boss helps a person find a new path, and sometimes that means termination.

At McKinsey there is a strict “up or out” policy. The consulting company promotes its top performers and counsels the others to leave. The important word here is counsels. McKinsey helps people to see why their current job is not a good one for them. As a manager, you are a counselor, helping people to see their highest potential be it with you or at another type of position at another type of company.

As a manager you are in a position to make peoples’ lives better. You can give them more interesting work, better coaching, more flexibility, all the things that you have always wanted in a job, you can give to other people. You should do that.

Just don’t go overboard. The first time I got a management position I tried to overhaul all of corporate America from my new-manager cubicle. I surreptitiously implemented affirmative action, and though I hate to admit this, I hired people who were not totally qualified. I gave people with scattered track records the chances of their lifetimes, and when they failed I compensated for them. I mentored people at all hours of the day and my work suffered. I snuffed out sexual harassment at a speed that only someone looking too hard for it could manage. Finally, I got a reputation for caring more about making peoples’ lives better than making my boss’s life better. It was a deserved reputation, and I was fired.

It hurts me even now to say it was a deserved firing. But it taught me a good lesson: The company comes first. And my job was to please my boss. Which is everyone’s job. You get an opportunity to manage people because you are going to make things better for the company. The company wants happy workers, but not at the expense of effective workers.

So here’s another piece of advice for new managers: Success is about balance. A good manager balances the needs of her company and the needs of her employees, and after that, a good manager uses her power over peoples’ lives to make the world a better place.

The cynics of the world will say, “That’s not realistic. I never got that.” But don’t ask yourself if you ever got that. Ask yourself if you ever gave it. It is possible to go through your life doing good deeds and just trusting that they’ll come back to you, in some way. Management is the power to make a difference. Do that, without wondering what you’ll get in return.

That said, you could do more great things if you managed really well and got more power. Don’t forget that.