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How to Stay Awake During Class

September 24th, 2007 admin

My first quarter of college I didn’t know how to stay awake in class. I took an early morning psychology course with three girls I’d met in the dorms. Just before class, we rolled out of bed, stumbled to the lecture hall class with our eyes barely open, and settled into a row of squishy seats in the lecture hall. Then 3 out of 4 of us would fall asleep—whoever stayed awake would take notes.

Obviously, I did not get an A in that class–I was catching Z’s instead. So, how can YOU stay awake in class?

As a college student, I can almost guarantee that you need more sleep, so you should start there. You probably don’t want to go to bed earlier, but you should. Give yourself an extra hour every night, and see if that helps. You might need more. Even a nap can help!

If you live in the dorms, making the above changes still probably won’t get you to sleep enough. So just in case, here are some things that worked well for me when I wanted to stay awake through a lecture:

Take notes by hand

When you take notes on a laptop, you tend to be much less focused, because typing is much more automatic. You also finish faster and sometimes drift off (or start IMing people). Taking notes by hand is slower, so it makes you focus on keeping up with the lecture.

Eat healthy snacksHow to Stay Awake in Class

Eating a snack—especially carbs and proteins—can help energize you. I liked taking a bag of healthy cereal like Cheerios to my very early or very late classes. I would eat the cereal one piece at a time—the carbs plus the act of making myself take one at a time really helped me stay awake. If you need a burst of energy, try eating fruit like sliced apples or grapes instead of a candy bar. Junk food, obviously, is not a good option.

Drink water

Dehydration can really wipe you out, so bring a water bottle to class with you. Neither soda nor alcohol (which is very dehydrating) is a good substitute for water to keep your body hydrated.

Get interested in the lecture

A lot of your interest in a lecture is affected by your attitude. If you go in thinking it’s going to be boring, you’ll probably be bored. Even if you’re taking a required class, try to get interested in the lecture each day; it will help you stay alert. Try to learn at least three things you didn’t know, and tell someone about them after class. It might sound kind of lame, but it will help you stay awake and learn.

Good luck! And also, remember to check out my tips about how to stay awake & alert while studying (without coffee!).

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Entry Filed under: academics,health

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25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Surviving College Life &r&hellip  |  October 29th, 2007 at 8:56 am

    […] a Lot of Water Remember this from my tips on how to stay awake in class?  Well, water is even better for staying up when you’re studying.  Dehydration can make you […]

  • 2. Britney  |  November 19th, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    I have a class that is my last of the day and it kills me to stay awake. I’m not in college, yet, but I really needed help staying awake in one of my classes. I almost fall asleep in there everyday and I drift off a whole lot. Thanks for the tips. I hope they help. 🙂

  • 3. Daniel Garcia  |  November 20th, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    All of a sudden it makes sense why I saw the only person that was actually able to stay awake through an econ class in high school always with a couple water bottles. Wish I had known that then, but at least I know this now and carry water with me all the time, I think it has really worked wonders keeping me awake through some classes. Plus it is sort of entertaining to see the head-bobbers and not be one of them.

  • 4. makatz  |  December 5th, 2007 at 8:34 am

    well.. i’ve read this and that tip on how to stay awake when studying, i’ll probably try that tomorrow… hope it works..!! i think they’re worth the try.

  • 5. Surviving College Life &r&hellip  |  January 3rd, 2008 at 10:44 am

    […] Go to Class, and REALLY Be There It’s a big temptation to spend class, doodling, checking your email, reading as many blogs as possible, or researching the lowest price on tickets for the next Ben Lee concert. But if you really make yourself pay attention to the lecture, it will make studying WAY easier! Try to be passionate about what you’re learning-it will probably help you boost your grades! (See also: How to Stay Awake in Class!) […]

  • 6. Njumi  |  January 28th, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Thaks for the tips,av evening classes,its so hard to keep awake after along dat’s wake as well as wake up early morning to study.I will try taking some cafeinne oz water will send me to the loo a thousand times and will miss sessions.thanks

  • 7. Jamie  |  January 28th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Haha that’s a really good point Njumi–too much water is bad. I’d definitely recommend you try some fruit, carbs, or proteins over caffiene though–that can give you a jolt but sometimes makes you feel even more tired once it wears off. 🙂

  • 8. Adlin  |  February 18th, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Are u sure this is going to work…Well, I’ll try it tomorrow…But Jamie, I think, eating too much carbs will not help me to stay awake…Instead, It will make me fell sleepy as energy is used to burn carbs…So taking carbs in moderation is the best way

  • 9. Jamie  |  February 19th, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    @ Adlin: I agree–protein and carbs in moderation is best. You don’t want to eat a steak & potatoes dinner and then try to keep your eyes open in class. Small, snacky foods like a protein bar or some crackers are a better option for class time.

  • 10. Surviving College Life &r&hellip  |  September 15th, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    […] and if you’re having trouble staying awake even during class, take a look at these tips about how to stay awake in class and staying awake while […]

  • 11. Natasha  |  November 9th, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    I tend to bring cereal type things (Corn Puffs) to class – they’re super low on calories, sugar free, salt free, taste free, but I’ve noticed that while I munch on them (one at a time), I stay amazingly awake. As soon as I put them away (to pay attention), I drift off (ironically). Same with water – while I’m drinking, I’m awake. I’m also too lazy to go to the bathroom, so I wait until it’s an emergency, but that definitely keeps me awake, too!

    So everything you’ve said definitely works! (speaking from experience)

  • 12. Jamie  |  November 13th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    @ Natasha: Thanks! I’m done with school at last, but I still use the water trick to focus at work… So keep that in mind! It keeps on working!

  • 13. DutchSchoolKid  |  November 18th, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Oh my god, I actually wrote about the same topic. But I got some really different tips.

    The difference is, I guess, I’m focussing on one class, not the whole day.

    But I seriously do agree with the last point. It’s all about interest. You have to be interested in everything the teacher will tell you, and you will be awake anyway.

  • 14. Stu  |  March 17th, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    These are great tips for those who unfortunately have classes at 7AM or 6PM. Check out this article for more info on how to survive an 8AM class

  • 15. grammarian  |  March 17th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Your interest if affected, not effected.

  • 16. Fernando  |  April 22nd, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Falling asleep is no biggie when the consequences aren’t stiff. Try NOT falling asleep while at the police academy where if you were caught falling asleep you’d be yelled at and then punished during PT (usually equalled more pushups, an extra mile run).
    Water I found was a big help during the times I’d nod off. When it got really bad, I resorted to self inflicted pain. I’d either bite my tongue and clamped down just until the pain was unbearable or dig my nails into my palms. If I had an empty coffee travel mug, I’d sit on that. Or twist my hands in uncomfortable positions.
    Basically, if it was painful or uncomfortable, it would keep me awake.

  • 17. $hunan  |  May 16th, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Hey, thanks alot for ur tips, i really encounter great difficulties despite my will of staying awake in lectureS, thanks=D

  • 18. FrancoisT  |  June 14th, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Hey Jamie,

    Thanks this is so helpful. I am currently at university and honestly found this information so useful, especially the part of walking into class with the goal of learning 3 things you didn’t know before.
    I find that the heating/cooling system is one of my biggest problems as it’s always perfect and of course this makes me feel ‘comfortable’ which of course leads to being sleepy.
    I drink 2L of water per day but don’t generally drink in class as it will mean a lot of bathroom breaks and this may not come across well, also I may miss something.
    Question: I drink flavoured milk sometimes in class, can this contribute to drowsyness?
    Thanks again.

  • 19. Jamie  |  June 16th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    @FrancoisT: As far as I’ve researched (which admittedly isn’t a whole lot) milk has the sleepiness-inducing chemical tryptophan, but not enough to make you tired. However, if you are lactose-intolerant and are drinking a lot of milk or consuming other dairy, sleepiness can actually be a symptom! Isn’t that strange?

    Anyway, unless that is the case, it’s probably not the milk that’s making your eyelids feel heavy.

  • 20. Teresa Bui  |  July 13th, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Hi Jamie, I’m a secondary girl from Vietnam. Thanks for this helpful tips. I sometimes get sleepy in class, but after I read this tips, I think I have to do it, to keep me stay awake. Thanks again

  • 21. matt  |  November 7th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    lift your feet two inches off of the floor. I guarantee that this will keep you awake.

  • 22. melly  |  April 30th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    very good post.
    well done!

  • 23. Sir Yoso  |  June 7th, 2010 at 5:12 am

    One way our teacher makes us not sleepy and pay attention in class is when she would announce(more like threaten) a quiz during the middle of the lecture.

  • 24. no  |  February 24th, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    what i do is slap my self or snap my self or drink water for some of you it may not work you will have to get active by answering questions and more. when you will eat lunch you will even get more active especially if you something like orchestra,band,choir you will be so active 😉

  • 25. emmanuel  |  March 14th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    staying alert poses a big problem for all students but knowing the importance can help cuz no 1 wants to fail and re-do a module

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