Your head feels like it weighs a million pounds. Your eyelids droop as if they are being pulled down. Your mind goes blank as you drift off in a sea of comfortable peace…
…and then you wake up with a start. Class is over and you’ve missed the whole thing! Fighting off exhaustion and trying to stay alert in lectures are pretty typical problems to have in college. But if you’re getting worried that you’re always tired, try these seven tips to stay awake in class.
1. Hydrate and Refuel
Treat your class like a marathon by being sure you have the right fuel to make it through. Sometimes, falling asleep might be a symptom of hunger or dehydration. Keeping a water bottle by your side and a few low-key snacks in your backpack can help you get the burst of energy you need. We recommend healthy, easy-to-carry options like granola bars and fruit (peppermint is also supposed to help you stay awake), and if you must caffeinate instead of water, try black tea or coffee so you don’t get an overdose of sugar.
2. Ask Questions
The more engaged you are, the more you’ll be forced to keep those eyes open. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask the teacher to clarify a point or review over a difficult subject. Answer a question the professor has or volunteer to participate in a demonstration. If it gets your mind moving, it’s so worth it.
3. Assign Yourself a Distraction
Just like being engaged, stay alert by giving yourself a small task. For instance, doodle a picture of the professor, write a poem about your classmate’s hideous hat, make a to-do list for the end of the day, or fill in your calendar with the rest of your syllabus’ due dates. The key is to not pick tasks that will take your mind off of class but will give you a temporary distraction that will re-awaken your mind.
4. Shower or Exercise Before Class
Running from bed to morning class isn’t going to do you any favors when you need to stay up. Instead, start your early routine with something that will invigorate you like a cold shower or a run around the track. Both activities wake up your senses and give you enough adrenaline to get through the next few hours without needing a pillow.
5. Keep It Cool
The more layers you wear, the warmer you are. That’s awesome for drafty buildings, but it’s horrible if you’re trying to stay awake. Seat yourself near that window that won’t close all the way and leave the coat at home. Staying cool and chilly will actually keep you awake longer.
6. Practice Reflexology
Small body movements that can be done at your desk or table can be lifesavers. One easy motion is correcting your posture by rolling your shoulders up and back and imagine yourself as if you were being pulled up by a string. Stretching your wrists by using your other hand to pull your palm gently back towards you is also effective. If all else fails, try the pinching method. It’s slightly painful, but there’s a reason why it works so well.
7. Maximize Your Nap Schedule
If it’s the afternoon classes you have trouble staying awake for, add a nap in your day. Try a NASA version, which is 26 minutes long and usually finished an hour before you need to be at your most alert. If that’s not plausible, just keep the nap under an hour. Any more, and you’ll go to class feeling even more groggy than before.