How to stay awake during a meeting?


What’s the best way to stay awake in meetings?

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US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is reportedly prone to dozing off in meetings. He’s not the only one. So is there a trick to stopping those eyelids from suddenly feeling so, so heavy?

Meeting-induced sleepiness – it happens to the best of us.

Former vice-presidents Joe Biden and Dick Cheney; former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich; Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas – all famous faces who have made headlines for being caught napping during speeches and meetings.

Mr Ross is the latest politician to be criticised for being reportedly unable to “stop falling asleep in meetings” at his department, according to Politico. But his staff denied his focus was so erratic that long meetings were avoided.

So how can you avoid the tempting pull of sleep during your next meeting – and how might you keep everyone awake the next time you have to lead one?

1. The right time…

Elise Keith, founder of Lucid Meetings, a US-based meeting coaching company, says that while time preferences may vary among individuals, research indicates that some periods may be better for achieving certain goals.

“Things like status updates and logical thinking – you want to do those earlier in the morning,” she says. When impressing people is important – like status updates, sales demos, interviews – the morning, “when sharpness and enthusiasm are at their height”, is best.

“Closer to the end of the day is a really good time for brainstorming… because the energy that you had in the morning has started to wear off,” she says. “People loosen up, which is also what you want when you’re trying to elicit cool ideas.”

And of course, never do meetings in the “dead zone” period – right after lunch.

  • Why I hate meetings – and how to make them better

UK-based author and workplace culture expert Judi James, however, says the exact time “matters less than we think” and ensuring a meeting has a clearly stated end time is more important.

“We often fall asleep in meetings out of boredom, not tiredness.”

2. … and right place

While some sessions must take place wherever the work can get done, meeting in unconventional locations can help boost creativity.

Standing meetings – where, as the name suggests, participants talk without sitting down – have also been praised by many efficiency experts for keeping things efficient.

Ms Keith suggests walking meetings or spaces outside for more creative sessions.

3. Be prepared

“The kind of meeting that leaves people to fall asleep is one where they probably shouldn’t be there in the first place… or where other people are talking at them,” Ms Keith says.

“Have clarity of what the meeting is about and a plan for reaching the outcomes of that meeting, which then allows you to only invite relevant people.”

One recent study found American workers on average felt just 33% of leaders were well-prepared for meetings. And most managers, Ms Keith notes, may spend 80% of their time in meetings without ever having been trained how to lead one.

Ensuring a clear agenda is a common piece of advice from productivity gurus.

Annette Catino, a healthcare executive and entrepreneur, told the New York Times an agenda was essential, “because if I don’t know why we’re in the meeting, and you don’t know why we’re there, then there’s no reason for a meeting”.

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“One of the ways that people stay awake is that they’re in a meeting that’s interesting to them and relevant to their work.”

And if you’re not certain who should be there? Make the meetings optional and see who shows, Ms Keith suggests.

*If you’re still with us, now might be a good time for a stand-up-and-stretch break.

4. Stay alert throughout the day

Ms James recommends standing up from your desk every half-hour or to stretch and “invigorate” yourself throughout the day.

And though some companies like Google, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and online retailer Zappos, have offered employees spaces to get some shut eye during the work day, Ms James cautions that “power naps aren’t always effective as they help you see the workplace as a sleep place”.

  • How to nap successfully at work
  • How long is the ideal nap?

5. To snack or not to snack?

While Ms James suggests turning down hot drinks or carb-heavy snacks before a meeting if you are prone to drowsiness, Ms Keith says the right kind of snacks can help improve meeting culture.

Snacks can keep people alert, for one thing, but are also a “symbol of caring” in many cultures.

“Why not bring that into your meetings? Why not show the people there that they are cared for, they belong, their wellbeing is something that matters to you?”

Of course, avoiding loud or smelly snacks is important, as is being mindful of participants’ dietary restrictions.

6. Engage

Putting it simply – you can’t fall asleep if you’re participating.

“Speak up during the first three minutes,” Ms James recommends. “It gets your voice into the room and allows you to feel like a contributor not a listener.”

Ms James also suggests making active body language contributions – “nod , use eye contact, and non-verbal responses to what you hear”.

Taking notes can also be helpful in keeping your brain alert.

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“If the meeting is dragging on, make yourself the note taker, search for key points, decisions that seem to be getting made but nobody is articulating clearly,” Ms Keith says.

“Raise your hand, interject, make sure they get called out. You can help other people be heard and ask questions.”

For leaders, Ms James says make sure to adhere to the agenda and only the agenda – tacking on “other business”, she warns, is “when the bores kick off”.

7. Fidget away

When all else fails, keeping your hands busy can help.

Ms Keith’s fidgeting tool of choice is a pipe cleaner – simple, and quiet, if a little odd.

Doodling is another longstanding go-to for bored meeting goers, but Ms James says it can make you even more drowsy.

Sometimes, it may just take a pinch on your own arm instead, she adds.

And if you do happen to nod off?

Both Ms James and Ms Keith agree, if you succumb to sleep, it may be best to leave.

“Make a swift excuse that doesn’t sound attacking, and if possible, get up quietly, apologise and leave,” Ms James recommends. And if you notice a colleague drifting off, only nudge them awake if you are friends.

And after any such meeting, Ms Keith emphasises the importance of providing honest feedback.

“If you’re in there and you’re sleeping because the meeting is so poorly planned, so disengaging, and such a big waste of your time, then that’s a massive bit of wasted investment for your company and the leading cause of employee disengagement,” she says.

“That’s the kind of thing that makes people quit.”

Reporting by Ritu Prasad

Here is a selection of your comments:

Whenever I feel I am beginning to doze in meetings, I immediately imagine my worst fear, which, for me, is being trapped in rubble after an earthquake. The adrenaline rush wakes me immediately. Paul Ketley, New Jersey, US

Old lawyer trick – lift one foot off the ground and you cannot fall asleep. Works when driving as well. Dan Todd, Tennessee, US

Eat Chinese salty plums. Really make you sit up and take notice. Judith Clark, Massachusetts, US

Drinking sips of water, I find, helps. Also chewing gum. I find it impossible to sleep whilst chewing! Andrew Halley, Cambridge, UK

My motto on meeting is: time limited and short. Staff have just two minutes or less to talk and I ask for bullet points…They only need to report on an exceptional issue, not what they are doing as part of their job… Lastly, keeping to a small group is the most productive way to go. Subrat Das, Bamako, Mali

If this happens to me I always say ‘amen’ upon waking, so that I can say I was praying and not sleeping. Grant H, Idaho, US

Sneaky Secrets for Staying Awake in a Meeting

We have all been in that situation at some point in our professional lives. The voice of the presenter turns into a dull monotonous drone from some faraway place. A wave of darkness starts flowing towards you.

Try as you might, you cannot fight it off.

Eventually, you give in and the wave engulfs you. Your breathing becomes heavy and your eyelids close. It takes a colleague poking you on the side with a pen for you to get back into the boardroom.

This is a common occurrence at the workplace, especially in today’s world where people have an endless list of obligations and responsibilities.

The busy schedules translate to extended working hours and very little rest.

When this is combined with red-eye flights and endless meetings, it is not surprising that we find ourselves dozing off during a meeting. Especially if the meeting is taking place in the afternoon, one of the two natural sleep periods.

According to this infographic, 39% of meeting attendees report falling asleep during a meeting. This clearly shows that dozing off during meetings is a serious problem.

Before we get into some sneaky secrets you can use to keep your eyes open during a meeting, it is good to understand things that might cause us to fall asleep during a meeting.


If you find yourself falling asleep during a meeting, one of the following reasons may be to blame:

You Are Warm and Your Stomach Is Full

The heavy lunch you ate before the meeting might be the reason you find yourself falling asleep during the meeting.

After eating, the parasympathetic nervous system instructs your body to slow down other functions and focus on digesting the food you have just eaten.

Other systems in your body – including your brain – start experiencing a slowdown. After eating, insulin is also produced to help regulate the amount of sugar within your blood. Insulin in turn triggers the release of serotonin and melatonin in your brain.

These chemicals cause your brain to become drowsy. The amount of insulin produced depends on the type and amount of food you eat.

When you consume large helpings of foods that are rich in fats, sugars and carbs, more insulin will be produced, leading to higher levels of drowsiness.

This effect is more pronounced when your body is feeling warm. This explains why more people are more likely to fall asleep during an afternoon meeting – the combination of just coming from lunch and the warm afternoon temperatures.

You Are Overloaded

In today’s world, our work demands so much of us.

Sometimes you find yourself with so much to do.

This means that you have to work very early, leave way past the official closing time, take numerous trips, and so on.

With such crazy schedules, sometimes you do not get enough time to sleep and rest.

According to a poll by Gallup, about 40% of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, despite a recommended sleep time of 8 hours.

If you are among this 40%, there is a likelihood that you might find yourself dozing off the middle of a meeting.

Boring Presenters

One of the top reasons why people fall asleep in meetings is due to a boring and unengaging presenter.

Some presenters do not make any attempt to make their presentation engaging.

According to a study conducted by the University of Tsukuba in Japan and published in the Nature Communications journal, the sleep we experience when bored is induced by a part of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens.

The nucleus accumbens triggers the release of dopamine (the feel good hormone) when you are doing something exciting, or when we are involved in activities that are important for your survival, such as eating or having sex.

However, in the absence of motivational stimuli, the nucleus accumbens triggers feelings of tiredness.

When you are bored, there is no motivational stimuli getting into your brain, no dopamine is being released and you therefore tend to feel tired and sleepy.

This explains why you are a lot more likely to fall asleep during a presentation by a boring colleague who drones on and on in a monotonous voice.

Not only is falling asleep during a meeting deeply embarrassing, it can also lead to you not being taken seriously by your colleagues and supervisors.

If it becomes a frequent occurrence, it can even result in you getting fired.

To avoid putting your career at risk, below are some strategies you can use to ensure you stay awake in meetings.


Ensure You Are Well Rested

We already noted earlier that almost 40% of Americans do not get adequate sleep. This lack of adequate sleep can lead to someone falling asleep during a meeting.

Therefore, a good way of minimizing the chances of falling asleep during a meeting is to ensure that you always get a good night’s sleep.

Make it a point of getting over seven hours of sleep each night. Without getting enough sleep consistently, no amount of caffeine will keep you awake when sleep comes knocking during the day.

Getting enough sleep also increases your energy levels and motivation and boosts your ability to communicate and socialize with others.

Therefore, if you had a poor night’s sleep on the day before the meeting, you will be walking into the meeting with lower energy levels and lower motivation, making it harder for you to concentrate and stay awake during the meeting.

Below are some practical steps you can take to ensure you get enough rest each night:

  • You should have a regular sleeping schedule. Have a specific time when you go to bed and wake up each day.
  • Spend the hour just before bed in relative quietness and relaxation. Do not exercise just before bed. Instead, relax yourself by taking a hot shower or meditating.
  • Avoid thinking about the worries of the day while in bed.
  • Keep TVs and computers away from your bedroom. Avoid using your smartphone or tablet while in bed.
  • Do not take heavy meals right before bedtime.
  • Do not drink alcohol right before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine, since they can interfere with your sleep. Caffeine will remain active in your body for up to 8 hours, so avoid caffeine in the late afternoon/early evening.
  • Make your bedroom conducive for sleep by keeping it cool, quiet and dark.
  • Do not drink too many liquids in the evening since they might lead to frequent bathroom trips at night, thereby disrupting your sleep.

Avoid Heavy Meals before Meetings

We already saw that eating a heavy lunch that is full of carbohydrates is likely to leave you in a near comatose state for much of your afternoon.

This is bad news if you have a meeting in the afternoon.

Therefore, if you have a meeting scheduled for the afternoon, it is wise to avoid having a heavy lunch.

Do not eat multiple pieces of pizza, potato chips or a meal that would be perfect for Thanksgiving Day.

Avoid foods that are greasy or full of carbohydrates. Instead, keep your lunch light. Eat some vegetables, raw nuts or a few fruits.

These will give you the energy you need to keep you powered throughout the meeting without inducing the dreaded drowsiness.

You should also go for foods with a high amount of protein. Protein-rich foods lead to absorption of lots of amino acids into the brain, giving you a stimulating effect that will help keep you awake during the meeting.

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Your level of hydration keeps affects your performance, productivity and how you feel throughout the day. Without enough fluids in your body, you tend to feel tired, sluggish and irritable.

Hydration also plays a huge role on your ability to sleep at night.

Having enough fluids in your body keeps your brain hydrated and increases blood flow to the brain, thereby calming your brain and keeping it well oxygenated.

This makes it easier for you to sleep. On the other hand, being dehydrated can keep you from sleeping properly at night, which in turn affects your energy and alertness levels the following day.

Therefore, to ensure that you are always alert and well rested, you should make a habit of drinking plenty of water and non-caffeinated drinks throughout the day.

While caffeinated drinks like coffee might give you a stimulating boost, they will also dehydrate your body.

Understand Agenda of the Meeting

Imagine being asked to attend a meeting at the last minute because your boss couldn’t make it to the meeting. You don’t know what the meeting is about.

Once the meeting kicks off, you have nothing to contribute since you were not prepared.

You start wondering why it had to be you who had to attend the meeting. Your mind drifts off, and before you know it, you have let out a huge yawn and your mind is on the verge of shutting down.

If you attend a meeting without the faintest idea of the agenda of the meeting, you won’t have much to contribute. You might not even be very hands-on with the issue being discussed.

This can quickly lead to boredom, which in turn escalates to drowsiness. To prevent this, it is good to prepare yourself before the meeting. Understand the issues that will be discussed during the meeting and prepare some points that you will share during the meeting, as well as questions that you might want answers to.

If you are well prepared before the meeting, it will be easier for you to actively participate in the meeting, and therefore you are less likely to feel sleepy.


Participate In The Meeting

Once you get to the meeting, the top strategy to ensure drowsiness does not creep in is to actively get involved in the meeting.

When you actively participate in the meeting, you will be more focused, your thoughts are less likely to wander, and you are less likely to feel bored during the meeting.

For you to be able to be actively involved in the meeting, you need to have prepared for the meeting beforehand. Below are some practical tips you can use to keep yourself involved in the meeting:

  • Listen carefully to whoever is speaking and make eye contact with them. This will help you to concentrate and keep your mind from wandering.
  • Take notes of whatever is being said. This makes it easier for you to stay engaged and ensures you will not forget the issues raised during the meeting.
  • If you have something to contribute to the issue being discussed, speak up and share your thoughts. After all, what’s the essence of attending a meeting if you do not make any contribution?
  • If you disagree with someone and feel that your objection will help the outcome of the meeting, raise your objection. However, do this politely, without trying to belittle the other person.
  • If something is unclear to you, raise your hand and ask for clarification.

Watch Your Posture

The sitting posture you assume during a meeting has a direct impact on the likelihood of falling asleep during the meeting.

According to a study conducted by the University of Auckland, your posture has a direct effect on your emotional state. According to the research, maintaining an upright posture leads to feelings of enthusiasm, excitement and strength.

On the other hand, a slouched or slumped posture leads to feelings of dullness, passiveness, sluggishness and sleepiness.

Therefore, you are more likely to stay alert during a meeting by maintaining an upright posture during a meeting.

Instead of a comfortable chair that allows you to recline, opt for a more straight backed chair that ensures that you are always seated in the correct posture.

Place both of your feet flat on the floor and sit upright, without having to lean on the back of your chair for support.

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to remain awake even when seated with an upright posture.

If you feel that sleepiness is creeping in despite all your efforts to ward it off, you can simply get off your chair and stand at the back of the meeting room. You are less likely to fall asleep while standing.

Additionally, it is unlikely that anyone will have a problem with you for standing during the meeting.

Open a Window/Adjust the AC

Sometimes, the sleepiness and drowsiness you experience in a meeting occurs because the room is a little too warm.

When you are in a room where the temperatures are a bit high, several things happen. First, your body makes several adjustments to maintain its optimum temperature.

The process of cooling down your body down needs energy, and therefore, you soon start feeling tired. Second, an increase in temperature within your body causes your blood pressure to decrease.

This means that there will be less blood reaching your brain.

Your brain will be less oxygenated and will therefore feel more tired.

Finally, a warm room feels cozy, so your brain associates it with sleeping time, inducing feelings of sleepiness.

If the meeting is taking place in a room that is a little too warm and you are starting to feel sleepy, simply get up and open a window or adjust the AC to regulate the temperature in the room. The fresh air and street noises from the open window will also help your mind to stay alert.

In addition, the act of actually getting up and walking to the window will make you more alert and reduce the drowsiness.

Use Acupressure

According to a study conducted by the University Of Michigan, people who feel drowsy during meetings can improve their alertness by applying self-acupressure to certain stimulation points on their bodies. The most common stimulation point is at your temples, just behind your eyebrows.

You can stimulate this pressure point by pressing this point on both sides of your head using your fingertips and making small circular motions.

The second pressure point is found at the base of the skull at the back of your neck.

To stimulate this point, wrap your fingers over your head and use your thumbs to massage this point using small circular motions.

The area between your wrist and your palm is another stimulation point that can induce alertness when you are feeling drowsy. You can stimulate this point by pressing your thumb here, with your index finger placed on the back of your wrist.

Finally, you can increase your alertness by rubbing the web of soft flesh between your thumb and index finger.

All these are exercises that you can use to increase your alertness during a meeting without anyone else realizing what you are doing.

Take Off Some Extra Clothing

This might seem like common sense.

However, when your head is cloggy with drowsiness, it is easy to forget something so basic.

Being warmly dressed in the meeting wrong will increase your body temperature, causing you to feel tired and sleepy.

If you have several layers of clothing, you can take off some layers. For instance, if you have a shirt and a blazer, you can take off the blazer.

This will lower your body temperature significantly and reduce your drowsiness.

Find Something To Interrupt Your Day Dreams

In most cases, the precursor to falling asleep in a meeting is daydreaming.

Your mind drifts off, you start remembering some happy memory from the past, and before you know it, you are woken up by the voice of the CEO calling out your name.

To avoid drifting off to sleep, you need to find something that will keep your mind from wandering. Below are three exercises you can do to keep your mind alert during your meeting:

Exercise 1: Hold Your Pen in Your Non-Writing Hand

Holding your pen in your non-writing hand will create sensations that foreign to your brain. Your brain will focus on these new sensations, helping it remain alert.

To make this exercise more effective, you should try to focus on the following sensations:

  • Take note of the parts of your fingers that are in contact with the pen.
  • Try to sense if there is any tension in your hand.
  • Switch the pen to your wiring hand and compare the feelings.
  • Try to write a few words with your non-writing hand.

After a few moments of doing this, you mind should feel more alert.

Exercise 2: Move Your Shoulders Up and Down

Slowly move your left shoulder up and down. The movement should be large enough that you can feel your shoulder moving, but small enough that no one else will notice the movement.

Keep increasing the pace to the point where any further increase in speed will cause others to notice the movements. Slow down the movement and start involving your right shoulder.

The shoulders should move in opposite directions, such that when the left shoulder moves up, the right shoulder moves down, and vice versa.

Again, keep increasing the pace to the point where any further increase in speed will cause others to notice the movements. After a few moments of doing this, your mind should feel more alert.

Exercise 3: Make Circles with Your Shoulders

This is quite similar to the previous exercise.

However, instead of moving your shoulders up and down, move your shoulders in small circles, starting with your left shoulder. Try to keep the movement as circular as possible.

Once you can do that perfectly, reverse the direction of the movement. Keep increasing the pace of your movements while keeping the movements imperceptible to the others in the room.

Slow down again and switch to the right shoulder and repeat the process. Once you can make the movements perfectly with both shoulders, try and see if you can simultaneously move both shoulders in circular motions.

Once you are able to do this perfectly, check how you feel. Your mind should be feeling more alert now.

Take a Bathroom Break

Sometimes, try as you might, it becomes impossible to keep the sleepiness at bay.

If you have tried all the strategies discussed above and nothing seems to work, excuse yourself from the meeting and take a bathroom break.

Even if you don’t feel like using the bathroom, excuse yourself and walk out of the meeting. Walk to the bathroom farthest from you, or take the stairs to a bathroom on another floor. Splash your face with cold water.

This will get rid of your drowsiness and you can go back to the meeting. However, if you still feel sleepy after splashing cold water on your face, get back to your office or take a walk outside the building. Send an email apology to the meeting organizer and ask for a copy of the minutes of the meeting.

It is a lot better to leave the meeting than get woken up by the CEO with a pool of drool around your face.


Feeling sleepy in a meeting is quite a commonplace experience, especially when crazy schedules are coupled with afternoon meetings and boring presenters.

However, the fact that it is a common experience does not mean that you should allow your drowsiness to take the better of your in the boardroom.

Allowing yourself to fall asleep in a meeting can have dire consequences for your reputation and your career.

To prevent the urge to fall asleep in a meeting, make a habit of getting enough rest, always keep yourself hydrated, avoid heavy meals before meetings and always understand the agenda of the meeting before walking into the boardroom.

Once in the meeting, keep yourself actively involved in the meeting and sit with an upright posture, or even stand. If the room feels too hot, open a window, adjust the AAC or shed off a layer of clothing.

If the sleepiness persists, use self-acupressure to increase your alertness or find something to interrupt your daydreams.

However, if you find that none of these works, it is more prudent to excuse yourself from the meeting than to let yourself fall asleep.


17 Tips for Staying Awake at Work

If you’re struggling to stay awake at work and the coffee’s just not cutting it, try some of these tips:

1. Go for a walk before work

Getting some fresh air and moving your body before work can help keep you awake. A walk is especially effective at increasing your alertness if you take one when the sun’s up.

2. Take a nap before work

While it’s often impossible to take a nap on the job, taking a nap before work can help increase your alertness. This is an especially important tip for shift workers, who may be required to work odd or alternating hours. Napping for as little as 15 to 20 minutes before work can help improve your alertness throughout your shift.

3. Take activity breaks

Sitting or standing still for too long, such as at a desk or cash register, can make you feel tired. Staying active can help you feel more alert and think more clearly. Get up and take activity breaks every few hours if possible. For example, try walking around your office or workplace while you take that phone call. You can also try these exercises you can do at your desk.

4. Keep your workspace bright

If you work during the day, keep your workplace window shades open to let in sunlight. If you’re working when it’s dark or dim, turn the lights on to help keep you awake and alert.

5. Drink water

Sipping caffeine can give you a temporary energy boost, but drinking water throughout your shift is much healthier and is also effective in keeping you alert. That’s because dehydration can make it more difficult for you to concentrate on your work.

6. Drink caffeine early in your shift

Consuming some caffeine early in your shift can boost your alertness early in your day. Be sure to consume it only at the start of your shift, though. Caffeinating too late can interfere with your ability to sleep after work.

7. Keep snacks handy

Eating healthy snacks during the day can help keep your blood sugar — and attention — steady all day long. Look for foods with a mix of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Good snack options include:

  • peanut butter and whole wheat crackers
  • granola and yogurt
  • nuts and fruit
  • baby carrots and cheese

Avoid consuming foods and beverages with added sugar, such as candies, energy bars, and soda.

8. Get the easy stuff out of the way

It can be hard to focus on complex tasks when you’re tired. If possible, complete the easiest tasks when you’re tired, such as replying to emails, filing documents, or reorganizing your computer’s desktop. Usually your energy will return as you complete these simpler tasks.

9. Use energizing scents to wake you up

Keep scented candles or an essential oil diffuser at your desk. Look for scents that are strong and energizing, such as jasmine, citrus, or peppermint. You can also rub essential oil on your hands and temples to help keep you energized.

Shop for an essential oil diffuser and essential oils now.

10. Turn on some tunes

Listening to loud, energizing music such as rock or pop can sometimes help increase your energy level. If you work in a shared space, make sure to wear headphones so you don’t disturb your coworkers.

Meetings – they’re not everybody’s favorite part of the day. They can be long and boring and eat into the rest of your schedule. This blog post is going to provide you with techniques to keep you focused and engaged in every meeting!

You’re sitting in your Monday morning meeting. An hour has gone by. Your interest is feigning. You can see your boss’s eyes fall on you and then suddenly, there it is.

The back of your throat begins to swell. Your head gets foggy. Your eyes begin to water. You try to keep it back, but it’s getting worse. You can’t keep it in anymore, you look like you are having a stroke, and so you let it escape – the yawn. The dreaded yawn.

You cover your mouth in an effort to conceal it, but it’s no use. The tears are now flooding. You begin to swallow the room. There’s no hiding it. You may as well have stood on top of your chair and shouted BORING, because that’s now what everyone imagines you’re thinking.

Of course, they wouldn’t be wrong either, but it doesn’t exactly make you look good. Staying focused and engaged in meetings is a tribulation that we all face. Meetings have a reputation for being drawn out and ineffective uses of time, but they don’t have to be an insurmountable bore.

We treat meetings as a chore don’t we? It’s an obstacle in our day that we just have to get over before we go back to our desk for the real work to start. Truthfully, you can be busy working at your desk all day long and still learn nothing. You can gain more insight from one meeting than endless late nights in the office. Meetings are held for a reason. You are supposed to get something out of them!

Before the meeting

Even when you expect to be in a really long and boring meeting, remember that you don’t know everything! Chances are you will at least learn one new thing. So…

  1. Keep an open mind and don’t go in with a negative attitude.
  2. Be fed and watered – nothing kills concentration quite like hunger or thirst.
  3. Make sure you’re well rested before the meeting starts.
  4. Be prepared. Understand what the agenda of the meeting will be before you walk in.
  5. Write some points and questions that you want answers to in a notebook and bring that notebook to the meeting.

During the meeting

There are three main ways people absorb information. The main three are listening, looking, and doing. It is important in meetings to listen, look, and do.

So… during a meeting, look at who’s talking, listen to what that person is saying, and do some physical work too, like taking notes. By doing these three things, you will engage all the senses required to take in information.

  1. Listen. This goes without saying surely?
  2. Look at whoever is speaking. It will help you to concentrate and take in information. Visuals complement audio and will help you retain information for longer.
  3. Being active can help people concentrate. When you do things, such as note taking, it helps you to grasp information, especially when accompanied with listening and looking.

Doing tips

Mind Maps

One good way to take notes during meetings that won’t numb your brain is by using mind maps. Mind maps are a creative way to take notes. They charm both the left and right side of your brain and make it easier for you to concentrate and retain information.

Work those Muscles

If things are exceptionally boring and you just can’t even focus right now, then one way to make sure you stay awake and upright is to do some muscle tightening and relaxing. Start with your toes and work your way up to your feet, calves, thighs, etc.

Trust me, this actually works! Tense and relax. Tense and relax. This should keep your body and mind active.

Moral of the Story

When you listen, look, and do in meetings, you will be able to stay focused and engaged and keep back the yawning in every meeting. Don’t be a negative Nancy – give meetings a chance you can get a lot out of them.

Having the right attitude, being fed, watered, rested, and well prepared will help you get the most out of your meetings.

Try out these techniques and let us know how it helps you to stay awake during meetings.

Do you have more meeting tips? Please share them with us and comment below!

Want some tips on how to run better meetings? Check these out:

Secrets of Scrum Meetings

7 Essentials for Effective Team Meetings

The Teamwork blog
Helping teams to work together beautifully

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Meetings are often terrible, stressful, boring, or somehow all of the above. But they’re also a necessary part of doing business — some things just can’t be communicated otherwise.

In my old Product Management life, I had to run and participate in a regular hour-long status meeting that was easily one of the most exhausting hours of my week, and often a boring rehash for me, but critical for the teams that I worked with.

And when it wasn’t a boring rehash, I was spending a stressful hour getting grilled by the CEO.

Enough ink has been spilled about how to make meetings more efficient and effective (or in ideal circumstances, nonexistent); but since most of us have to participate in them we might as well be as good as possible to ourselves while we’re there. If you’re spending vast amounts of your week stressed out or bored, your mental health and physical health are going to suffer — and your performance is going to suffer too.

And it’s not only about being good to yourself; it’s also about being good to the people you’re in the meeting with. I’m sure you’ve experienced this: you’re in a boring status meeting and your energy is dropping. You feel a yawn coming on, you just can’t avoid it…. and boom. Someone was making a good point, and everyone’s forgotten it because you’re now the rude person who’s over there almost falling asleep.

Let’s assume you’re getting enough sleep and appropriately (ie: non-abusively, but recently) caffeinated — if not, that’s probably why you’re sleepy and yawning. But if you are, the culprit is probably something else: oxygen.

You’re sleepy and yawning because you don’t have enough oxygen. When you’re bored, you’re slouching and breathing shallowly. When you’re stressed, your brain and your heart are going double time, and they’re two of the most oxygen-demanding organs in your body. This naturally causes you to get sleepy, and a big ol’ yawn is the best way for your body to cool down, get more oxygen, and get rid of the carbon dioxide in your bloodstream.

So, you need more oxygen. How do you get more oxygen?


Start by checking that you’re sitting up straight — a slouched position can crush up to half of the working volume out of your lungs. Bad news. Once you’re vertical, focus on breathing deeply with your diaphragm, and completely filling your lungs with air.

Then, for a quick hit of O2, use this breathing technique, courtesy of a group that needs to be awake and alert in all kinds of stressful situations, the Navy SEALs:

Tactical Breathing

    This technique is called ‘Combat Tactical Breathing” or Box Breathing.

  1. Inhale for a four count, tapping out the seconds on your thigh. 1–2–3–4.
  2. Hold your breath for a four count, again tapping out each second. 1–2–3–4.
  3. Exhale slowly on a four count, tapping out the rhythm again. 1–2–3–4.
  4. Hold your breath for one more four count, tapping out the same pattern. 1–2–3–4.
  5. Repeat this sequence at least two more times, and as many as it takes for you to feel calm and oxygenated.

That’s it. Whenever you’re feeling bored, sluggish or stressed, try it. You’ll feel more energized, alert, and focused, and getting through those meetings will be easier than ever.

    A couple of additional tactical breathing notes:

  • You don’t actually have to tap your leg. Feel free to just count in your head, but I find it helps as a way to focus on the breath.
  • Tapping or counting your breaths can help calm your mind (several forms of meditation start this way), but if you’re more of a visual person, below is a graphic you can breathe along to.

Breathing graphic courtesy of Quietkit

Header photo by Climate KIC on Unsplash

8 Ways To Stay Awake When You’re Falling Asleep At Work

Working all day can be exhausting, and nothing’s worse than sitting at your desk, only to find your eyelids fluttering and your head nodding off. Most of us don’t have the luxury to be able to take a nap at the office, so it’s essential to find ways to stay awake when you’re falling asleep at work. Coffee is often the go-to choice, but if you don’t want to load up on too many cups or if it’s late in the day, it’s essential to find alternate ways to perk up when you feel you’re starting to doze off on the job.

Feeling sleepy at work is not an uncommon occurrence. Of the Americans who sleep seven to eight hours per night, 45 percent report feeling or tired fatigued three times a week, according to a study conducted by YouGov. Of those who sleep six hours or less, 54 percent of people report feeling tired four or more days per week. With all these sleep-deprived people wondering how to stay awake at work, it’s no surprise everyone is struggling a bit every now and then.

If you are looking for solutions to your midday slumbers, try these 10 tips to help you stay awake if you’re falling asleep at work — none of which, thankfully, involve guzzling yet another cup of coffee that will keep you wide awake tonight.

1. Get Moving

You can’t fall asleep while walking to the bathroom. “Take a walk around the office,” writes health coach Kimberly Petrosino to Bustle over email. “Chat with a coworker, get some fresh air if you can — just get a change of scenery. You might feel guilty for taking a few minutes away from your desk, but you’ll be a lot more productive anyway once you come back refreshed.” It can be anything as small as taking the long way around to the water cooler or as solid as a walk around the block — either way, it will put you in a different headspace long enough to wake you.

2. Make Some Face-To-Face Contact

“Get contact with other people, ideally face-to-face,” writes happiness coach Scott Crabtree to Bustle over email. “We are social creatures; we get energy from each other. Even introverts get a mood boost from social contact — although they may not desire it as much as extroverts.” An easy way to do this is take a stroll over to a common area in the office, like the kitchen, or an open work space. If you work from home, maybe try meeting up with a group of people who also work from home every now and then.

3. Eat A Snack

If you feel yourself slowly fading, opt for some foods that naturally give you energy, such as eggs, avocado, whole grains, and nuts. “Keep your desk drawer stocked with healthy snacks,” says Petrosino. “You may feel tired, but you might just be hungry. Sometimes when we’re busy we forget to eat every couple of hours. Set a reminder on your phone if you need to, to grab a quick (but healthy) snack every two to three hours.”

4. Drink Some Water

Maybe you’re not hungry, but dehydrated instead. “Keep a reusable water bottle at your desk,” says Petrosino. “Fill it in the morning, and you’re good to go. Oftentimes, all it takes is a nice tall glass of water to have us feeling a lot perkier.” A recent analysis of studies published in Physiological Reports showed an association between exercise-related dehydration and a decline in visual and motor performance — if you’re feeling particularly unfocused, it might just be that a glass of water will perk you up.

5. Sit Up Straight

If you’re falling asleep, you’re likely slumping down into your chair. However, making a conscious effort to sit up straight can do wonders. A study from the journal Health Psychology found that posture can affect your energy levels; people who sit up straight report feeling more energetic and excited than those who sit slumped at their desk. If you’re looking for something to mix up your routine and it won’t be too disruptive to your office, you may even want to try a standing desk on for size.

6. Give Yourself A Massage

“A self massage is a great way to get blood circulating and stimulate your nervous system,” says holistic health coach Sarah Jacobs to Bustle over email. “Rubbing the back of your own neck and up your scalp can give a jolt of energy, as well as the pad between your thumb and forefinger and your earlobes.” If anything, it will also give you an opportunity to check in with yourself, and see if there’s something under that “tired” feeling — like boredom, or lack of motivation — that actually needs addressing.

7. Chew Gum

A 2013 study from the British Journal Of Psychology found that participants who chewed gum for a 30 minute task were able to answer questions more quickly and accurately than those who didn’t chew any gum; researchers noted that the gum chewers, while initially at a disadvantage at the beginning of the task, overtook non-gum chewers and had better results by the end of the task, suggesting gum helped with continuous tasks. It might be smart to invest in a few cartons of it to keep in your desk for an afternoon refocus.

8. Focus On Something Enjoyable

“It sounds simple, but when you’re interested in the work you’re doing, your brain is in ‘flow’ mode, and it’s focused and alert,” says Jacobs. “Find something about the task at hand that gets you interested, whether it’s that you’re doing it for a client you really like, love the topic at hand, or maybe you just get excited by using Excel shortcuts. Whatever it is, find something interesting and focus on that.”

Nothing can replace good sleep, but use these tips for a coffee-free way to perk up if you find yourself getting tired while on the job.

Sources interviewed:

Kimberly Petrosino, Author and Health Coach at Happy Healthy Hearts.

Scott Crabtree, Happiness Coach at Happy Brain Science.

Sarah Jacobs, Holistic Health Coach at The Wellness Project NYC.

Studies referenced:

Millard-Stafford, Mindy (2018). Exercise-heat stress with and without water replacement alters brain structures and impairs visuomotor performance. Physiological Reports,

How Not to Nap: 6 Tips for Staying Awake in Meetings

What do U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have in common? Apparently, both have been caught napping in meetings. While age may be a bigger factor in these cases than the quality of the meetings, the BBC has some tips that meeting professionals can use for both planning, and staying awake in, meetings.

Some experts think that the subject matter of a meeting should dictate the time it is held; for example, creative discussions and brainstorming work better in the afternoon. Then again, others suggest that a clear agenda, inviting only attendees who absolutely need to give input, or walking while meeting are the way to go.

While closing your eyes during a meeting is inadvisable for a number of reasons—not least that your colleagues will notice—napping at work has been shown to have some benefits. These napping tips can help meeting planners stay fresh, from an early morning breakfast meeting to late-night networking events.

Sweet dreams!

How to Stay Awake in Your Most Boring Meeting

It happens all the time and it happens to everyone, at least now and then: falling asleep in inappropriate places or at inopportune times. If you’re with friends, it can be funny. But sleeping in a meeting or in the middle of an important lecture can be mortifying.

The problem is more widespread than you might imagine. A 2009 survey conducted by state health departments in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults fall asleep unintentionally during the day. In fact, the CDC describes the lack of sleep among modern Americans as a public health epidemic.

“When you fall asleep in any situation you don’t want to, it’s a sure sign that you’re significantly sleep-deprived,” said Ilene Rosen, MD, program director for the University of Pennsylvania Sleep Fellowship.

More problematically, nodding off outside the bedroom could be a sign of a serious sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or narcolepsy, said Sterling Malish, MD, director of the Good Samaritan Hospital Comprehensive Sleep Center in Los Angeles. If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, see a doctor. Falling asleep inappropriately could have serious consequences — for instance, if it happens when you’re behind the wheel. And if you’re chronically sleep-deprived, you’re also more susceptible to chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, cancer, and obesity.

Most adults need seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night, said M. Safwan Badr, MD, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

RELATED: How I Solved My Insomnia by Getting Less Sleep

“Sleep is like the federal budget,” Dr. Badr said. “It’s a debt that has to be paid. And the interest is your health.”

What Makes People Fall Asleep Easily

  • You’re warm and you’ve just eaten. “A high temperature and a full belly are stimuli that make you relaxed,” setting the stage for falling asleep, Badr said.
  • You’re overloaded. If you have too much to do, you may not be making enough time for sleep. It’s better to scale back and do a few things well than be chronically sleep deprived.
  • You’re in a moving car or train. Think how easily babies fall asleep in cars. Adults often respond the same way, said Dr. Rosen. Research published in the journal Current Biology in 2011 found that men who took naps in a bed that rocked fell asleep faster than those who were in a stationary bed — the swaying motion promotes brain wave patterns that foster sleep.

How Not to Nod Off

  • Go to bed earlier. It’s better to go to bed earlier than to sleep later. That’s because the hormones that regulate sleep are highest between midnight and 7 a.m. Also, it’s lighter in the morning, signaling your body to wake up. Dr. Malish suggested moving your bedtime up in 15-minute increments.
  • Stand up. “If you’re falling asleep on trains or the bus or in a lecture hall, get up and go to the back where you can stand,” advised Rosen. It’s harder to fall asleep while standing.
  • Take a nap. A 20-minute power nap can help you stay awake during the day. Just don’t take a nap too late in the day because it will disrupt your nighttime sleep and set you back to being sleep-deprived.
  • Drink some caffeine. Just remember that it can take eight hours for the caffeine to wear off, so you could be lying awake in bed at night. Also remember that too much caffeine can have its own side effects, such as anxiety and a fast heartbeat.

How to Stay Awake in Class: 15 Tips to NOT Fall Asleep

Last Updated on December 20, 2019

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Have you ever fallen asleep in class?

There’s no need to be ashamed about dozing off in class. It is actually a natural phenomenon. Studies have shown that people can only stay completely focused on something for a maximum of 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, most classes last longer (often waaaay longer) than 10 minutes. In addition, many class instructors ignore this information or are totally oblivious to this learning process.

The problem, of course, is that falling asleep in class can cause poor academic performance. Furthermore, dozing off during an important activity or event on a regular basis can develop into a habit that you might carry into other areas of your life (e.g., in your career or during important gatherings that require your participation).

In this article, you’ll discover 15 simple strategies to feel energized and awake while in class.

​Side bar: I also recommend checking out The Energy Blueprint Masterclass, which has a six-step process you can use to get rid of your fatigue and increase your daily energy. With the simple actions, you’ll learn here, you can start each day feeling refreshed and ready to conquer any challenge!

Tips on How to Stay Awake in Class

​If you’re having trouble with feeling like you’ll fall asleep, then here are 15 tips on how to stay awake in class. ​

​1. Avoid eating a large meal before class.

Most people have experienced the notorious “food coma” after eating a large meal. This results in a feeling of heaviness that drains your energy. This happens because the body releases chemicals that signal drowsiness after eating. This is particularly true if you eat certain foods, such as a meal that is high in carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates release more serotonin from the brain, which makes you feel good. However, too much serotonin can increase melatonin production, leading to drowsiness. Basically, not all foods have the same impact on your body. While some foods can increase your energy, others can make you sleepy.

Also, tasking your body with digesting a large meal is exhausting. Eating large portions—especially of unhealthy foods—will leave your body with little energy to use elsewhere. You can keep a stable level of energy if you eat smaller meals more frequently. This gives your body has the opportunity to digest smaller amounts of food at a time. Leaving you feeling energized instead of tired after your meals.

Avoid heavy foods and opt for healthy, balanced meals instead. A healthy meal to eat before class could include fruit, vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. An example of a well-rounded breakfast to have before class would be one cup of plain Greek yogurt sprinkled with bran flakes and topped with 1/4 cup of berries.

2. Sleep the night before your class.

Students who doze in class often missed sleep the night before. Getting enough sleep is your first line of defense when it comes to staying away in class. Make sure to get some shut-eye if you have a class the next day. For most people, eight hours of sleep is sufficient to get through the day, but your body may require more.

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night will train your body to know when it needs to be asleep and when it is time to wake up. Allow yourself time to relax before heading to bed by putting away your phone, homework, and other things that keep your mind active. Getting enough high-quality sleep can alleviate daytime fatigue.

Getting enough sleep is your first line of defense when it comes to staying away in class.

3. Take a shower before class.

Showering helps you feel refreshed and awakens your senses. The warm water from your shower raises your body temperature. This also increases your heart rate and circulation so your blood travels around your body faster. Finally, it helps deliver oxygen to your vital organs so your body can work at an optimal level of efficiency.

For an extra boost of energy, finish your shower with a blast of cold water. When your body is exposed to cold water, your arteries and veins constrict, which allows your blood to flow at a higher pressure, meaning that your circulation is even further increased. The cold water will also help wake you up because it will shock your body, forcing you to breathe more deeply. This will increase your oxygen intake, leading you to be more mentally sharp.

4. Have some mints.

The crisp, refreshing smell of mint can awaken your senses and keep you alert in class. When you eat a mint, the menthol component excites your senses and stimulates the hippocampus area of your brain, which directly impacts your mental clarity and memory. The clean smell triggers your mind to wake up and pay attention.

Studies have found that people who are exposed to peppermint become more alert and less tired, have an increased sense of motivation, and become less irritable. Studies have also found that peppermint slows the release of cortisol and can keep people calm by limiting the release of this stress hormone, yet without putting them to sleep.

5. Drink plenty of water, and bring some to class too.

Dehydration causes fatigue and sluggishness. Every cell in your body needs water in order to function, and a deficiency in body water disrupts various processes. Your blood concentration thickens due to a lack of fluid, which results in the reduction of plasma in the blood, which in turn makes the heart work harder to supply oxygen and nutrients to the body. Since more energy is needed for blood circulation, you experience weakness and fatigue.

Secondly, a decline in hydration is typically accompanied by a loss of electrolytes. These chemical ions are present in your bloodstream and play a vital role in regulating your fluid levels, muscle function, and nerve reactions. An electrolyte imbalance leads to tiredness and fatigue, muscle weakness, lightheadedness, and an irregular heartbeat.

Increase your water intake by consciously taking sips of water throughout the day. Furthermore, prevent dehydration and make sure you’re bringing a bottle of water with you to class.

6. Munch on a light snack.

If your professor allows eating in class, you can bring some light snacks to munch on. Glucose gives a quick energy boost when you’re feeling drowsy. A sugary snack will give you a quick boost of energy. But it will be followed by an energy crash, which can leave you feeling worse than you did before your snack.

Choose a healthy snack that will keep you satiated and won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Some good options are carrots with hummus, an apple with peanut butter, and yogurt with almonds. The healthy fats and protein will help tide you over and give you lasting energy.

7. Don’t get too warm.

Feeling warm and cozy leads to sleepiness. Typically, your body expends energy to maintain a consistent temperature, but when you get warm, your body has to work overtime to keep you cool. This requires your heart rate and metabolic rate to increase, and this extra effort can make you feel sleepy.

Additionally, we often correlate being warm with being cozy, and coziness leads to sleep. This psychological link is stronger than one may think. When you associate something strongly with a feeling, such as comfort and sleep, it’s easy for your mind to react accordingly by starting to shut down when you are warm.

Open the nearest window or take off your jacket to keep cool during class. Make sure you wear some layers in case you start to feel sleepy.

8. Take notes.

Keep your attention on what’s going on in class by taking notes as the professor gives the lecture. Taking notes is an effective way to stay awake in class. It forces you to maintain activity in your mind. Your brain will be engaged in class if you write down what is being said.

Taking notes can also help you think more and pay more attention to the lecture. Your notes don’t have to be perfect—just write down the main points that you find to be interesting, and any questions that you think of. There are various methods to taking notes, you just have to experiment and find the one that works best for you and keeps you focused.

Taking notes is an effective way to stay awake in class because it forces you to maintain activity in your mind.

9. Take notes in a creative way.

Speaking of various methods of note-taking, doodling has been proven to be an effective way to maintain focus and recall. Doodling prevents you from completely losing interest when you need to pay attention. This is due to the fact that it requires enough brainpower to prevent you from daydreaming, but not enough to make you lose focus.

In other words, doodling helps you anchor your attention and remain engaged rather than zoning out.

READ: The 15 Best Note Taking Apps Review

Doodling can also help you find solutions to problems. Doodling is thought to activate areas of the brain that help you analyze information in new ways. Even if you are simply drawing on the corner of your paper, you’re activating different networks in the brain and engaging with new and different information. Doing this may lead you to come up with a new solution to a problem.

10. Take a quick walk.

Excuse yourself from class and go to the bathroom. The quick stroll can help keep you awake—not only because it will get you up and moving, but also because the change in the environment for a few minutes helps your brain stay active.

Physical activity signals to your brain that it’s not quite time to go to sleep. Get your blood pumping a little bit to improve your sense of alertness. When you sit in one place for too long, it slows down your circulation and negatively impacts your state of mind.

You can also use physical activity as a preventative measure before going to class. Take the stairs instead of the elevator on your way to class to increase your heart rate and give you some energy.

11. Sit in the front row.

Sitting in front allows you to become more engaged in the lecture. Just like when you are taking notes, sitting in the front of the class will keep you focused on what the teacher is saying. And less on how tired you are.

Also, you will probably be nervous about getting scolded by your teacher for falling asleep, so you will actively keep your eyes open.

It is also easier to pay attention and participate in class when you’re sitting in the front. You will likely be sitting near people who are actively participating in class. Hearing their voices might help keep you awake.

12. Drink green tea.

Green tea has properties that boost your energy without the jitters that others experience when they take coffee. It has about one-third the amount of caffeine as coffee does, so it doesn’t give you that quick rush of energy followed by a crash. Green tea also contains L-theanine, which is an amino acid that gives you a feeling of calm alertness.

Drinking green tea throughout the day can also keep you full. This prevents you from eating a big meal that will make you tired later on. It will give you a steady stream of energy throughout the day. The act of sipping on green tea throughout the class will keep your body engaged.

13. Listen to isochronic tones.

If the class instructor allows it, listen to brain-entrainment tones to keep awake and stay focused. Listening to isochronic tones is a fast and effective audio-based way to keep your mind stimulated. These sounds can help you improve your focus, increase your energy levels, and get a good night’s sleep without taking drugs or using any special equipment.

Listening to isochronic tones leads your brainwave activity to a different frequency. This allows you to alter your mental state and how you feel. Some people report feeling more alert and having an enhanced ability to focus while watching the following video featuring isochronic tones.

14. Use essential oils to raise your energy and perk you up.

Essential oils have properties that keep you energized. The best part is that they don’t have the side effects of palpitations, heartburn, and trembling that some people get when they drink coffee. Inhaling an essential oil can give you the quick burst of energy that you need to stay awake during class.

One of the most well-known essential oils that is used to increase alertness is rosemary. Grapefruit and peppermint essential oils are also popular choices. Keep some essential oils in your bag. Take them out in the middle of the day if you need a quick pick-me-up.

15. Stretch.

Stretching resets your nervous system and promotes blood flow, giving you a quick energy boost. Stretching is especially great to do during class if you can’t get up and move around. You can always do some simple stretches in your seat.

Stretching activates your energy reserves and help you breathe deeper, giving your body more oxygen to supply to your vital organs.

Final Thoughts on Not Sleeping in Class

We’ve learned that a person’s average attention span lasts for 10 minutes. However, most class lectures last longer than this.

It is quite understandable to feel sleepy in classes where the instructor is not aware of this fact or chooses to ignore it.

The tips on how to stay awake in class provided here serve as a guide to helping you concentrate. They help you to focus your attention to maximize your learning.

Try a couple of these suggestions for the next few weeks in the class where you tend to doze off. See what happens.

Another thing: If the reason you’re drowsy in class is that you’re sick, it might be better to allow yourself to be absent for a day and rest.

Finally, to further motivate you to stay awake during class hours, practice the habit of rewarding yourself when you’ve successfully made it through a couple of weeks without sleeping in class. This post shows you 100+ ways to reward yourself for completing a goal.

​Finally, ​be sure to check out The Energy Blueprint Masterclass, which has a six-step process you can use to get rid of your fatigue and increase your daily energy. With the simple actions you’ll learn here, you can start each day feeling refreshed and ready to conquer any challenge!


How to Not Fall Asleep in Boring Classes

Espresso shots and energy drinks are not the only way to survive your least favorite class. With a little practice, you can learn to pay attention and focus even when the subject or your teacher is drier than the Gobi desert. Remembering your reasons for taking the class in the first place can help you get a passing grade and avoid having to repeat it. Challenge yourself to figure out why in the world your teacher or students majoring in that discipline find such material interesting while you struggle to keep your eyes open.


Staying awake in a boring class is easier when you come to class rested and refreshed.

Why Sleeping in Class Is a Bad Idea

Sooner or later, you will likely end up in a dull class. Even if the class isn’t required for your major or minor, remind yourself that the grade will affect your overall GPA. If the teacher grades participation, you could be docked points or even dismissed for the rest of the class period if you are caught snoozing. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone to explore heavy subjects reflects intellectual curiosity and academic ability. If you don’t have a track record of excelling in courses that require logic and abstract thinking, you may have trouble getting admitted if you later decide to pursue law school or graduate studies.

How to Stay Awake in Class

If you are struggling with sleepiness in class, you may be experiencing sleep deprivation, a common problem of college students. College students need seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night. Students who are not properly rested have trouble staying alert and comprehending and remembering new material. Consequently, grades can suffer. You will have fewer problems staying awake in class if you maintain a regular sleep schedule and restrict caffeine, especially before bed. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with nutritious meals and routine exercise will keep your mind and body in peak condition.

Develop a Positive Attitude

Even if an arcane lecture in late-medieval rhetoric isn’t your thing, listen with an open mind. Imagine what life was like for people during that time period. Concentrate on key points that may be on a test. Use the class as an opportunity to improve your concentration and critical-thinking skills, which will make you a better student in all your courses. Whenever your mind wanders, gently pull your focus back to the here and now. Pay attention to your self-talk. Avoid repeatedly reminding yourself that the class is painfully dull. Sit in front where the teacher can see you rather than in the back row of a dark lecture hall where you may be tempted to nap or text your friends.

Take Notes to Stay on Task

Concentration is a skill that requires practice. If you tend to daydream in class, take detailed notes even if your teacher provides access to the lecture PowerPoint. Taking notes forces you to listen and follow along. Write down questions to ask when the teacher invites questions or look up the answers later. Sit up while taking notes. Don’t put your head down on your desk, which could lead to nodding off and snoring. If allowed, compare your notes with other students between classes to make sure your notes are accurate and thorough. Comprehensive notes are a great study guide for upcoming exams.

Make the Most of Breaks

Make good use of breaks. Fight the urge to shut your eyes and snooze. Long night classes can be especially challenging. Blood pools in your lower extremities when you sit for a while. Use your break to move around or go outside for fresh air to increase your blood circulation and oxygenate your brain cells. Stretch your arms and legs. Socialize with classmates to make the class period more enjoyable. If permitted, compare your notes with other students between classes to make sure your notes are accurate and thorough. Comprehensive notes are a great study guide for upcoming exams.

No matter how interested you are in the topic, sometimes you might have those moments when you’re sitting in class and you just canNOT stay awake. This just means you need to do whatever you can to try and get through it.

1. CAFFEINE. Obviously.

Caffeine can sometimes become bad for you if it is consumed too often, but with moderation it can be a good resource when in times of desperate need. Having a coffee here or there to get you through a class can be a life saver.


Since college isn’t like high school and you don’t need the professor’s permission to go to the bathroom, don’t be afraid to use it if you need it. Even if you just stop by the restroom to splash some water in your face and give yourself a break from the lecture, it can be a much more valuable use of your time as opposed to falling asleep in front of a professor.


As much as fidgeting with items can be annoying to the people around you as well as the professor and yourself, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. Whether it is tapping your foot, twirling your pen, or playing with a hair tie, whatever keeps your mind active is a good strategy to prevent yourself from laying down on the desk.


Typical as it is, chewing gum is always something that is easy and effective. Another thing that may not have been allowed in high school; take advantage of it.


Eating something puts energy into your body and gives yourself something to do, as well. If you can be discreet about it, try to pack some snacks for yourself so you can reward yourself for sticking with the class as well as have something to do while listening to the professor. Just try not to bring anything too loud. No one likes the kid who is loudly crunching on their chips in the back of the classroom.

6. STRETCH. Kinda.

Don’t hit the person sitting next to you, but if you need to you can stretch your arms behind you or straighten out your legs.


When it comes down to it if you are constantly falling asleep in class you need to be getting your 7-9 hours in bed at night. It’s not always something that is super easy to accomplish, but TRY and make it a goal to get to bed at a decent hour until you find yourself in a routine. There’s no consequences if you fail. If you don’t sleep you will just become the stereotype of a college student.

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