Falling asleep in class is inevitable. We all do it. Students have long, variable hours of classes, extracurriculars, and jobs all compete for limited energies. It feels like a victim-less lapse, but mid-lecture naps impact the whole class room. They distract classmates and is disrespectful and depressing to teachers. Professors in college often banish repeat offenders. High school teachers have other ways of making their displeasure known.

So a few words of advice for students seeking the wakeful path:

  • Get the right sleep. Not just more sleep, or earlier bedtimes. We all have an optimal rest pattern, and it’s different for each. If you can’t go to bed at 9 and drop right off, don’t try. If you’re most productive working at midnight and taking a nap in the evening, work with that. Be careful and aware of your sleep schedule, but don’t try to force it.
  • Be picky about your seat in the classroom. Avoid the back of the room at all costs, and the desks along the walls are almost as bad. Too easy to feel invisible and slump to the side. Put yourself right in the middle of everything, and feel the spotlight.
  • Be the most active player in the room. Every chance, your hand should be in the air with questions or answers. You can’t be almost annoying proactive and When you’re not speaking up or if it’s the wrong kind of class for that, take detailed, thorough notes even if the topic won’t be on the test. You’ll be awake and your grades will thank you, too.
  • Remember that platitude about breakfast being the most important meal of the day? It’s not wrong. No matter what time of day your class is, remember to eat beforehand. A hearty (not heavy!) meal about an hour before the class will kick in while you sit there, and a lightweight snack during will help too.
  • Enlist an accomplice. If you’re having particular trouble in a certain class, ask a friend sitting nearby to keep an eye and pinch you as needed. This should only be employed as a last resort – you being woken up will definitely make you the distraction we’re trying to avoid.

It feels good to close your eyes on a red-eye math class at 7am in a poorly lit class-room with no windows. We’ve all been there, and students will continue to do so as long as classes exist. But there are plenty of things you can try to keep from being a repeat offender. Stay on your teachers’ good side, and stay awake!