Early morning 8 am classes: Most of us have taken them our whole lives, yet somehow in college, they feel ten times worse. Students in 8 am courses can be observed as frazzled, exhausted, and sleepily dreaming of being cocooned in a bed of blankets. While a select few wish to get their classes for the day out of the way, for most of us, taking a class that early is a dreaded experience.
For three semesters, I gloated about not having to take any early morning classes. Then it happened: A class that I needed for my major was only offered at the formidable time slot. Always had been, and probably always will be. On the first day of school, I lay in my still-dark room questioning if I really needed a college education.
After a while, however, I adjusted and found how to make the most out of it. Here are my tips for not only surviving that 8 am, but maybe even enjoying it a little. Maybe.
Wake up early
I know it may sound counterintuitive to the problem of fatigue in morning classes, but not just rolling out of bed a few minutes before class can really help. According to The New Yorker, it takes two to four hours for our brain to fully wake up. By waking up a couple of hours early, you are also giving yourself time to partake in healthy activities such as a quick workout and a full, balanced breakfast. Also, at the risk of sounding basic, I really like being able to put on something cute and do my hair and makeup. Those things certainly are not requirements for self-confidence, but personally I feel much more put together and in control of my day when I am in control of my appearance.
Take a class you are interested in
If you have a choice in the matter, take an 8 am in a subject you enjoy, or at least one in your major as that is bound to at least have some appeal. The morning class I am currently in is Intro to Public Relations. As I want to build a career in the Public Relations field, even through my exhaustion I am engaged and eager to learn.
Drag a friend with you
Seeing the bright and shining face of someone you care about and enjoy spending time with definitely can improve that gloomy morning mood. My neighbor is in my course this semester, giving me someone to walk with and accountability to actually wake up and leave on time. One of my sorority sisters and best friends is also in that class, and catching up with her is my favorite part of my morning.
Coffee won’t replace sleep, but it’s pretty close
I am a self-proclaimed coffee addict and I am not afraid to admit to it. While too much caffeine can cause negative side effects, a cup in the morning to put a little pep in your step for a few hours can make all the difference. If you don’t have the time or means to make your own, the café Sip in the student center opens at 7 am weekdays.
And when the coffee wears off: Nap!
College has given me a deep seeded appreciation for regular nap-taking. According to WebMD, take a 20 minute power nap is best for alertness and motor skill improvement, while a 30-60 minute nap is best for decision making, boosting memory, and creativity. Do not exceed a 90 minute nap, which is the best amount of sleep for solving creative problems and making new connections in the brain. On Tuesdays I have a solid block of classes from 8 am until 1 pm, but when I squeeze in an hour or so nap after, I’m refreshed and ready for my 4 pm.
But seriously, try to go to bed early
Nothing beats the glorious feeling of a good night’s sleep. According to Stanford University, the average college student needs upwards of eight hours of sleep a night to feel and function their best. That means if you are waking up at 6 am, be in bed by 10 pm. If you have trouble falling asleep on the earlier side, remember not to drink coffee or take naps after 4 pm, and try some herbal tea or light reading before bed.