Active Living, Balance, Classes, Down time, How-to, Student Life

In Which I Keep Falling Asleep in Class

ALT="A photo of me sleeping"

This is me but everywhere I go

With a new year, the old problems don’t disappear.


For me, the biggest of these old problems is falling asleep during lecture and undergoing several consequences from it. If you’re like me, some of these consequences will sound familiar. One is missing a huge chunk of information from the professor. I’ve tried concentrating whatever osmosis there is so I retain everything in my sleep (I think I saw it in a TV show), but it doesn’t work. What happens is that I usually wake up and start looking over the lecture the next week and realize that I don’t actually know anything from then, which definitely hurts during exam prep.

Another effect of falling asleep in lecture is having half scribbled, illegible notes that don’t look even similarly like what the professor was saying. You think you write chicken scratch? Try writing in a sleeping chicken’s scratch. It goes something like this: you drift fully asleep (so you think), and when you wake up, you see ink on the page but nothing of substance from it. The difficulty of deciphering it falls just under translating hieroglyphics.

The third consequence is being called out. Nothing is scarier than hearing a prof suddenly and sharply call your name while the entire class stares at you for being the poor person under fire (as well as being a source of entertainment). I’ve had my fair share of jolting my head up from the bark of a professor, and it is not a fun experience. So how am I trying to remedy this, you ask? I have a few tips and tricks I’ve been following that hopefully can help any of you in my same predicament.

ALT="Me holding up a mate tea bag"

The biggest life saver

First: take naps in between classes and during breaks. I’ve found that as I wake up earlier and am more productive this year, my body gets tired during my mid to late afternoon classes. So, when I napped during my breaks, I was more awake during my long night lectures and had a much lower chance of becoming drowsy.

My second tip, which might be a little controversial, is don’t drink coffee, but mate tea throughout the entire day. Mate tea comes from the dried leaves of yerba mate, and has a high caffeine content infused in it. For me, coffee causes me to become jittery and distracted. However, steadily drinking mate the entire day subtly keeps me alert without the impending doom of a coffee crash or shaky hands.

The third is a little tastier: fruit. Fruit is scientifically proven to make you more energized with its natural sugars. Citrus fruits are especially good for this. My favourites are tangerines because they’re sweet, aren’t too large, and I can fit three (or more, depending) in my bag as a great snack. A couple runner-ups are apples and bananas.

ALT="Green apples"

Personally, I’m more a fan of red apples, but the sour taste of green ones is a great jumpstarter too.

Finally, the last tip (and perhaps the most obvious) is to get at least eight hours of sleep. For the average university student, not getting enough sleep has been romanticized, but doing this consistently only hampers your capacity to stay productive. This year, I’m learning more and more about how important sleep is, and feeling its effects through my increased focus in class.

Lectures are where you spend a lot of time learning, and staying conscious for them can be a huge struggle especially when you have a ton of work and other commitments. However, I recommend you try out some of these tips and see if they work. Who knows? Maybe you won’t fall asleep in that 9AM tomorrow.