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Having trouble staying awake during class even after you think you got enough sleep at night? Do you often feel your head nod and bob like you can’t control it? No matter how exciting or boring a lecture is, everyone has been in a class when they just couldn’t stay awake. Here are some life hacks to not only help you stay awake but to actually be alert and attentive in class too.
Take a Shower Beforehand
Get out of bed and hop straight into the shower. This system reboot leaves you fully fresh (mentally and physically) for the rest of the day at school.
Bring a Bottle of Water
Chugging water regularly helps keep sleep at bay, especially if the water is cold. Your body is more than 50 percent water, and fatigue is a key sign of dehydration, which is known to dull your mental acuity. So jump over to the positive side of that fence: Being well-hydrated, from drinking lots of nice, cool water, leaves you feeling alert and lively in class.
Snack on Carbohydrate- and Protein-Rich Foods
Peanut butter, Greek yogurt, an apple, or berries are fantastic choices. The natural sugars help prevent you from being fatigued. And avoid heavy meals just before class—they might make you sleepy.
Take Your Posture Into Consideration
Try not to slouch. Roll back your shoulders and tighten your core so your posture is upright.
Sit in the Front
The teacher’s voice will be louder if you are in the middle of the classroom or in the front row. The volume alone helps drive away sleep, as does the fear of being caught nodding off while you’re front and center.
If you know you might not be able to stay awake during the entire class, stand at the back of the room. From there, you can listen to the lecture but because you’re standing and won’t be as comfortable as you are in a seat, you’ll be less likely to nod off.
Engage With Your Professor
Be super attentive to what the professor says and think of questions to ask along the way. When you have a plan to interact, you’ll be more attentive throughout.
Try a Natural Supplement
Certain herbs and plants can help you stay alert, without relying on the highs and lows of caffeine or other quick energy fixes. Ginseng, cinnamon, and goji berries are a few of the botanicals that have been traditionally used for focus. Seek out sources of vitamin B12 as well: It is needed to provide usable energy from food we ingest. B12 is needed for the production of ATP, the molecule that carries energy within cells. Natural supplements like RECHARGE HEALTH™ centered energy (which has B12 and goji berries, among other energy-related ingredients) may be a great option. Always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement though, just to be safe.
Make taking notes a habit. It’ll help you remember the material better once class is over—plus give you a record of what the professor thinks is important—and the act of writing will keep you occupied during class, so you’re less likely to get bored and sleepy.
Although doodling is often associated with being bored and not paying attention, if you doodle randomly while listening, it can help you stay awake. “Randomly” is the key word. Don’t try to draw anything in particular; just let your pen move over the paper. By keeping your hand in motion, you won’t become so relaxed that you fall asleep.
The repetitive action of chewing takes your mind off being tired and keeps blood flowing to your head. But obviously, you can’t continually munch on handfuls of popcorn throughout a philosophy class. Never fear, chewing gum also improves alertness. And the effect is even better if you like your gum minty fresh, according to a study from Coventry University.
You might feel a little sleepy simply if the room is warm. Be sure to take off your jacket or sweater to avoid feeling overheated and sit by an open window if you can, to feel a cool breeze.
It’s not easy to stay alert and focused when your eyes are dry. Carry drops in your bag and splash a few in when the need arises to feel refreshed.
Touch Your Head
Odd as it may sound, it actually works. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that students who applied pressure to the tops of their heads, the tops and backs of their necks, just below their knees, on the backs of their hands, or on the bottoms of their feet were less sleepy than students who self-applied acupressure at relaxation points.
Think About Your Plans After Class
If you have a meeting, practice or plans to meet a friend after school, try thinking about it for just a few minutes while you’re in class, then snap your attention back to your instructor. This will stimulate your mind and wake you up a bit.
Sit Near a Partner
Look for that studious friend to sit next to and ask for a poke if they see you nodding off. But keep in mind, you should think about how to return the favor somehow. If you have nothing to offer, your study buddy might find someone else who does.
Walk It Off
If you really feel like you’re going to fall asleep, excuse yourself to the bathroom. The walk there will give your eyes something new to focus on, so when you return to the classroom, you’ll be more alert in that environment. The walk itself will increase your blood flow as well, which also works magic on your focus. While you’re in the hallway, stretch or even do some jumping jacks to get your blood flowing and your heart rate up.
What you think qualifies as enough sleep (a solid 5 hours) may not be the same as what your brain requires (7 to 9 hours, consistently). The most surefire remedy for being sleepy in class is getting more sleep when you’re not in class—preferably in bed, at night. Try to keep to a regular sleep and wake schedule as much as possible. If you have trouble falling asleep, take some measures to improve your sleep habits, like putting away your phone an hour before bed, using a sleep mask or ear plugs, or trying essential oils or a natural sleep-supporting supplement. Restful sleep is the first and best fix for daytime alertness.