College is hard for everyone. No matter how different every student’s college experience is, there is always one common theme: students are sleep deprived. Procrastinators and obsessively organized students alike have mornings where getting out of bed feels like standing up from a pit of wet concrete.
The easy answer is to get enough sleep at night, and limit unnecessary late-night social media surfing; however, most students stay up late for homework. Fortunately, there are a few tips for staying awake during a college lecture.
1. Chew gum
Beware of classroom rules; some professors may have guidelines against gum. As long as it is allowed, then chewing gum is one of the best ways I have found to stay awake. Mint is refreshing and helps you wake up. Stimulating your taste buds keeps you from drifting off. If you can’t chew gum, try some light snacking or flavored tea. Tea and coffee also have the advantage of caffeine.
2. Take notes
Taking notes is helpful because it gives you something to focus on instead of thinking about how tired you are. Taking notes also helps you retain the information. Try taking notes by hand rather than on the computer. It is more labor intensive, so you have to devote more effort, which keeps you awake. Also, taking notes by hand enhances comprehension because you need to paraphrase the material to keep up with the professor.
3. Interact with the material.
If you are really exhausted and you can barely keep your eyes open, simply taking notes isn’t enough. Interacting with the material in class is the next step. As you write down notes, think of questions and make connections with other material you are learning about in different classes. Try to answer questions you think of on your own. If you can’t, be sure to raise your hand and ask the professor.
4. Drink water
Always bring a water bottle to class. Staying hydrated is not only healthy, but it helps you stay awake. Studies show that dehydration causes drowsiness. If you feel drowsy, especially in the morning, try sipping on water. Also, as mentioned above, sipping water will give you something to think about instead of focusing on how tired you are.
5. Fidget quietly
Tools like fidget spinners have become exceedingly popular. Even though fidget spinners are a fad and a lot of people use them as toys, tools like this can be useful for staying awake in class. Anything quiet that you can discreetly fidget with will give you enough stimulation to keep you engaged in class. It doesn’t have to be a store-bought tool; even just a pen can be enough. Beware of disturbing your neighbors!