Students & Micro-Sleep: How to Stay Awake During Class Hours

Drifting off during class is not an uncommon occurrence, especially for teens and adults. Late-night studying, part-time jobs, and early rising are just some of the things that could contribute to daytime sleepiness. Luckily, there are ways to curb it.

During class, many students may find themselves transitioning into what is now being called a “micro-sleep”. This term describes a brief but deep sleep that occurs at unexpected times.

Micro-sleeping is what happens when your brain or body is so tired or desperate for rest that it decides to just switch off before you have time to realize how exhausted you are.

This form of sleep is still undergoing research. But one thing is for sure: daytime napping is perfectly healthy. However, the abrupt nature of micro-sleeping may cause some harm if left unchecked.

Good rest is paramount to learning and memory retention, which is why sleep is so important for students.

Let’s discuss micro-sleeping and its impact on students in the classroom.

What Is Micro-Sleep?

Micro-sleep can last anywhere between 1–15 seconds. It often occurs when a person is extremely tired, triggering an automatic (and sometimes unwarranted) acceleration from wakefulness to deep sleep.

Micro-sleep is what happens when you are sitting at your desk, fatigued and dreaming of bed. Before you know it, someone is waking you up and asking if you’re okay. It can also happen when you’re not paying attention to your surroundings and your brain is tired and “switches off”.

While it’s only natural for the body to crash when it reaches its limits, falling into a micro-sleep is not always a good thing.

For example, if you were driving or operating machinery, a micro-sleep could send you under at a very inopportune moment. You could put either yourself or someone else in harm’s way.

If you are a person who frequently experiences micro-sleep, you may need to look at your sleep schedule to determine where it’s lacking and how to change things for the better.

A Well-Rested Mind Stays Focused

Sleep is an absolutely essential part of every human’s health and vitality. Without it, you wouldn’t function normally, let alone study efficiently for exams, or even pay attention during class.

The outcome of your pursuing academic goals is wholly dependent on your relationship with rest. Rest means more energy, higher concentration levels, and a much sharper ability to retain information over long periods of time.

If you can provide your body and mind with the right amount of rest, you should resist micro-sleeping during class hours, and use that time to focus on studying instead.

If you’re getting the right amount of rest but are still struggling not to micro-sleep during the day, consider meeting with a doctor to find out if there is a separate issue at play. This is not an area of your health you can afford to sidestep.

Microsleep to Stay Focused

Other Methods for Staying Awake During Class

For most people, micro-sleeping will go away the minute you implement healthy sleeping patterns and get enough quality rest each night. However, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use some helpful tips and advice on how to stay awake during class—yes, even the boring ones!

  • Suck on a peppermint—Mint is a natural stimulant that can improve thinking skills
  • Get some fresh air—Boost your oxygen supply by taking a few breaths outside
  • Stay hydrated—A hydrated body has more energy and is less susceptible to fatigue
  • Move your body—Physical movement stimulates circulation and enhances focus

With the help of these methods (and a little perseverance), even the drowsiest of students should naturally overcome daytime fatigue and focus more actively on their classes.

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