How to avoid sleeping in class
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2002
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 17:05
It's a familiar scene: thirty minutes into an hour-and-twenty minute seminar, your vision begins to blur. Next, your eyelids feel droopy and heavy, followed closely by what is called "The Bob" by frequent victims. Your neck suddenly loses its ability to hold up your head. Before you know it, you're asleep.Some classes are worse than others. "The hardest is when you have to watch a video in the dark," complained Maggie Hanson '05. Your chances of falling asleep dramatically increase during dry lectures, second classes of the morning, and of course, the dreaded after-lunch class.
The worse part of falling asleep during class is that it's so hard to stop. Once the eyes get tired, your body puts itself on a set course to a nap - class or no class. "I have a chronic problem," stated Uzma Burney '03. Of course, for some folks, class time sleep is no issue. "I slept through an entire class and got an A," said Rebecca Fendell '03.
Although it may seem that no professor can tell whether you were sleeping or just resting your chin very firmly on your hand, the likelihood that someone's attention has been called to your lack of consciousness is high. Professor Jonathan Hirsh doesn't remember many students falling asleep in his classes, but admits there have been some. His approach to them is to "stop everything and be really quiet and see if they notice.
Students have unique ways of staving off drowsiness. Nicole Papincak '05, who admits her head sometimes bobs around, says that her solution is to "write down everything the professor says." Keeping the pen moving is the answer for several other students as well. "Make a list of all the things you have to do," recommends Dawn Stewart-Lookkin '05, who also sucks on cough drops regularly to stay awake.
Some people get very involved in staying awake. "I doodle constantly," admitted Emi Spura '03. "I invent fonts," she said proudly and pulled out a notebook to reveal a page covered in black and green letters in a style she called Dmon.
But for others, the path away from sleep needs more than pen movement. Petra Aldrich '03 advised "leg bouncing," while Wendy Kohn '05 said she avoided sleep by "sitting up straight." Several others agreed with Rosie Khaber '06 that some sort of stimulant was needed. She suggested that students "bring water and caffeinated beverages to class," and that it was better to have cold ones than hot.
Studies have repeatedly shown that college students are sleep deprived, and it is old news at Smith, which ranks ninth on Princeton Review's list of colleges that study the most. Long term solutions to falling asleep in class include better time management, naps, and of course, more sleep. When you get that sleep is up to you. "If I'm tired enough to sleep in class," says Anna LaRue '04, "I probably wouldn't go in the first place.