10 Ways to Help you Stay Awake in Class

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Written By Jim Peterson

Jim Peterson has over 20 years experience on speech writing. He wrote over 300 free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at My Speech Class.

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Falling asleep in class is a problem many teenagers face in today’s day and age. They often have to stay up late to finish endless essays or homework assignments and projects. The workload that we pile on our teenagers has become borderline insane. On top of all that, parents create busy and over-the-top schedules for their children to reflect well upon them.

There are several strategies that we can teach our teens to manage their sleepiness in class. Some of these strategies include using natural stimulants such as mints or peppermint oil, going for a short walk in natural light before your class, chewing gum, munching on a light snack, and so much more.

Unfortunately, our teens don’t get much sleep lately due to many factors. These factors include but are not limited to overbearing workloads, video games and, demanding extracurriculars. Teenagers feel all this immense pressure to perform that often they crack under what they expect in terms of achievements.

Now their lives are filled with stress, anxiety, and depression which leads to many sleepless nights that ultimately cause teens to fall asleep and underperform in classes.

Student Falling Asleep with a Book on His Head

Why Do You Fall Asleep in Class?

There are many reasons why teens could be falling asleep in class. It could be due to poor quality sleep, a lousy diet, hormones, and more.

Here are a few of the main reasons teens fall asleep in class:

Their circadian rhythm has been interrupted. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes in a 24-hour cycle. It’s pretty much our internal clock. They primarily respond to the light and darkness in our environment. To fix your circadian rhythms, you must adapt to a healthier sleep schedule.

Therefore, technology-free downtime 60 to 90 minutes before you sleep is necessary due to the effects blue light has on our brains. Our primary source of blue light is the sun, meant to keep us awake during the day. However, blue light signals your brain to wake up instead of winding down. Therefore, screen time before bed will cause you to have a poor night’s sleep.

Boring lectures could be another reason teens opt for that little snooze in class without thinking twice about how it will impact them later. Unfortunately, missing crucial information in a class due to boredom is something that has happened to all of us. The best way to combat your boredom would be to make the class more interesting for you. A way to make it more fun would be to take notes creatively or interact in the class. It’s important to open yourself up to the opportunity to gain knowledge.

One of the other reasons teens could be falling asleep in class is being too comfortable in their environment. Comfort makes you lazy and far more likely to fall asleep during a lecture. Avoid anything that gives you a false sense of comfort, and always sit upright during your lectures.

Taking a more scientific look at why teens could be falling asleep in class, the overproduction of Adenosine could be causing teens to fall asleep. Adenosine is a naturally occurring compound that is vital to the biochemistry of all living organisms, including human beings. It helps to regulate sleep and arousal and protect cells from damage. Adenosine is also a naturally occurring depressant that signals the brain that it is time to rest.

Top 10 Ways You Can Stay Awake in Class:

1. Take a Morning Shower

Taking a cool morning shower has been proven to increase your productivity levels, increasing the feeling of freshness. Morning showers are also a solid block of ‘me time’ and mentally prepare you for the day ahead. Feeling clean and fresh in the morning will also give you the necessary confidence boost to achieve things during your day. A morning shower is also a great way to destress before your day starts and creates a sense of readiness for the day’s tasks.

2. Eat a Snack

Student Eating an Apple During Class

Low glucose levels can cause you to doze off during your classes, so it’s always a good idea to keep a snack handy for those moments when you feel a little tired during your lectures. Having a quick little snack during your lecture will ensure that your glucose levels remain stable throughout the class, thus increasing your productivity and alertness. Unfortunately, low glucose levels can also lead to headaches, decreased attention span, mood swings, and rapid heartbeat.

Consider eating a healthy snack during your lecture to ensure stable glucose levels and increased productivity.

3. Take a Walk Before Class

Taking a short walk in the sun right before your class will give you time to clear your mind and expose you to sunlight, which will stimulate your brainwaves, making you feel more awake. You will also get a slight boost in vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, boosting your immune system and improving your mood. The added benefit of taking a walk is that you are exposed to fresh air, making you feel more energized as clean air flows into your lungs.

4. Stretch Your Legs

Most long lectures often include a break that allows students to walk around and stretch their legs. Science has proven that adolescents can only focus on a specific topic for 10 minutes before losing interest and becoming distracted or having a decrease in productivity. So the best course of action would be to stretch your legs every 10 minutes to restore proper blood flow and regain focus. Stretching your legs will increase blood flow throughout your body, warding off that drowsy feeling.

5. Sit in Front

Sitting in the back of the class ensures much less supervision from your lecturer, making it much more tempting for you to go off during a class. Unfortunately, it also makes it much less likely that you will interact with the lecturer during your course, which decreases productivity, causing you to feel bored.

Sitting in front in class ensures that you are always in the eye line of your lecturer, which makes it less likely for you to fall asleep and forces you to engage in the class and participate in discussions that involve the work that’s being discussed.

6. Stick to a Set Sleep Schedule

Person Holding a Clock and Pointing to One

Most teens have a problem in today’s day and age because they are depriving themselves of sleep due to the fear of missing out. Most teens rush through finishing their boatload of homework assignments to play video games or hang out with their friends. Having a set routine and sleeping schedule will help you prioritize your health and ensure that you feel rested and ready for the day.

Having a stable sleep schedule will improve your day-to-day mood, help ward off depression, regulate your hormones better and leave you feeling energized for every new day.

Having sufficient sleep will also increase your productivity and attention span. The average teenager needs between 8-10 hours of sleep per night to function optimally during the day. A healthy sleep schedule will make it far less likely for you to fall asleep in class.

7. Take Effective Notes

By actively taking notes during a class, you are actively involved in the learning process, giving it a purpose while also increasing your productivity. In addition, taking notes is a proven method of increasing your memory retention and your comprehension by breaking down the content in a way that is easier for you to understand.

Actively taking notes keeps your body moving and helps avoid feelings of distraction and drowsiness. Listening carefully to filter out the critical information you need for your notes will keep your mind active and involved throughout the class, thus eliminating your chances of falling asleep during a lecture.

8. Try Maintaining a Decent Posture

Maintaining a decent posture throughout your class will ensure that you remain comfortable. Thus, making it easier to focus on the task at hand. In addition, when you are comfortable, you stay focussed and motivated for more extended periods, and it will help you absorb more information while also improving your academic performance.

When your body is adequately aligned, your muscles can work efficiently. Conversely, poor posture leads to your muscles working harder, often leading to feelings of tiredness and decreased energy. It also affects your breathing. For example, slouching over at your desk makes it more difficult for you to breathe correctly, leading to drowsiness.

Sitting up straight allows your lungs to open up more thus, making it easier for you to take full, deep breaths. Having a good posture in the classroom will ensure that you are getting the most out of your learning session while preventing feelings of fatigue at the same time.

9. Hydration is key

Water is one key aspect of life we all take for granted. I mean, who wants to run to the bathroom all the time? But, unfortunately, we don’t realize that being dehydrated has a far more negative effect on you than making that one quick run to the bathroom.

Dehydration causes the tissues in your brain to shrink, often causing brain fog, lack of focus, drowsiness, and lack of energy. Drinking your six glasses of water a day can keep your brain on track and help improve your focus.

Hydrating can also improve your mood. Dehydration has neurological impacts that have been known to cause frustration, confusion and irritability. Staying hydrated will improve your level of focus and your ability to absorb new information without the feeling of drowsiness.

10. Use Natural Stimulants

Natural stimulants are an excellent way to help you stay awake in class. There are so many alternatives that can be used. Peppermint oil is an excellent natural stimulant to use when you are feeling sleepy because inhaling the scent of peppermint oil instantly opens up your airways and acts as a scented wake-up call. If you are not allergic to peppermint, the alternative would be eating mints or adding fresh peppermint leaves to your food.

You can also rely on vitamin B12 as an excellent natural stimulant as it increases your energy levels and decreases your chances of feeling drowsy or having low energy levels. Another benefit of vitamin B12 is that it significantly reduces the risk of depression.

Another good natural stimulant is green tea. Although there are many benefits to drinking green tea, one of the main ones is that green tea helps keep you awake and alert. In addition, it’s an excellent natural source of caffeine in small doses, so it won’t leave you feeling jittery if you are sensitive to caffeine.


Even though it’s incredibly common for students to fall asleep during class, it’s not desirable behavior. By reading through these tips, you can significantly improve your chances of staying awake during class. Whether it’s an online class or you were trying to pull an all-nighter, falling asleep in the next class means that you’re going to end up missing crucial information.

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