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10 Tips For Staying Awake In A Lecture Hall

You arrive to your class in a lecture hall, rejuvenated and ready to learn. You settle into your seat, unpack your note-taking materials and adjust your glasses as the professor begins the lecture. All of a sudden, the doors are slamming loudly as students are coming in late. Someone is stepping on your foot and apologizing profusely as he or she climbs over you to get to the one vacant seat right in the middle of your row. Your professor’s mic isn’t working and you’re straining to hear the words. The PowerPoint slides are getting clicked through so quickly that your sluggish hand has no way of getting the notes down for everything. You look down at your notes and realize that your handwriting is atrocious- the lines are blurring together, your notes are illegible. Now what?


Falling asleep in a lecture hall is easy. In fact, people do it all the time. The anonymity of a big lecture hall, the decisive moment where you decide to give up on taking notes and the inability to stay focused for that long can all combine to lull you into a nap. But falling asleep in lecture means that you miss out on a lot; you’ll miss not only the subject material of the class but also the wisdom that your professor imparts, the jokes they make and the anecdotes they share. Staying awake in a lecture hall isn’t easy, but there are a bunch of things you can do to help you stay awake.

1. Bring Snacks


It’s probably not a good idea to bring something super messy like pasta, or something really loud like chips. And you probably should not bring a smelly food item like tuna. However, there are some great snack options you can bring to class that won’t disrupt your peers and will help keep you awake. Dried fruits, soft cookies, gummy candies- these are all small items that you can bring with you and snack on when you feel yourself drifting off during a lecture.

2. Drink Lots Of Water


Refill your water bottle before class, and if you ever feel tired or sleepy, just take a large swig out of that bottle. Not only is this a good way to stay hydrated and get your daily water intake, it can also wake you up a little.

3. Chew Gum


Chewing gum will get you moving and doing something so that you won’t fall asleep. It will give you something else to focus on other than how sleepy and tired you are.

4. Sit In The Front


One of the reasons that it’s so easy for students to fall asleep in lecture halls is because of the anonymity of the relationship. Students don’t feel like professors will notice if they fall asleep because there are so many other people around them. If you sit towards the front of the lecture hall, though, it will be more likely that the professor will notice your snoring in the middle of class. This will force you to sit up and pay attention in class.

5. Ask Questions

By raising your hand and asking questions in class, you direct a lot of attention to yourself. This spike of adrenaline and attention can energize you for a little. Plus, asking questions forces you to pay attention to the professor and the subject material, which is what you’re in class for, after all!

6. Take A Bathroom Break 

Sometimes students are afraid to leave the room because they don’t want to miss something the professor is saying. But if you’re already falling asleep or zoning out in the middle of class, you might as well leave the room and go get some fresh air. You’ll only miss out on a couple minutes of lecture and come back refreshed, instead of spending the entire hour and a half napping.

7. Doodle


In the margin of your notes, start doodling while you listen to your professor talk! Doodling gives you something to do while not completely distracting you from the lecture. Not only will these doodles be really entertaining to look back on when you review your notes in the future, it will also help keep you awake.

8. Annotate Your Notes


While the professor lectures about the subject material and makes key points, it is a good idea to highlight the important parts of your notes. Stock up on colored pens, highlighters and other note-taking utensils to help you interact with the subject material and to keep you focused.

9. Make A Friend


Lecture halls seem big and full of strangers, but if you just start talking to the people around you, you’ll be sure to have some friends by the end of the quarter. Having a friend will give you someone to study with and someone to tap you awake when they catch you drooling in your sleep during class. Score.

10. Pick Classes You’ll Enjoy!


The best way to stay awake in class is to make sure you’re interested in the subject material! Although there are some classes that we cannot avoid, there are some choices we can make. Whenever you can, choose a class that you know you’ll love; not only will you be able to stay awake in class, you’ll get more out of the class altogether.

Lectures are always given by professors who have a lot of knowledge and wisdom to share with you. These tips can help you stay awake in class so that you can make the most of your college experience (and all that tuition you paid)! The best way to stay awake in class, though, is by having fun. So engage with the material, interact with your professor and just let the process of learning happen.

Kalysa was the 2020-21 Editor in Chief and Campus Correspondent for the UCLA chapter of Her Campus. She was also previously a Senior Editor and Feature Writer for the chapter. On the rare occasion she's not busy studying for school or writing for Her Campus, you'll probably find her indulging in tiramisu or reading (and re-reading) her favorite novels. 
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