Ask Emma: I can’t stay awake

Fix your sleep schedule; do class outside of your bedroom



Emma has advice to those struggling to keep their eyes open during Zoom lectures. It includes staying hydrated and trying to limit your naps to 20 minutes.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

Dear Emma,

I have a problem. I can’t seem to stay awake during the day. I want to pay attention to my Zoom classes, but I can barely keep my eyes open. Thankfully, I have enough sense to turn my camera off before my head hits my desk. I’ve started taking naps during my free time, but now I can’t get through the day without one. 

Do you have any tips for staying awake for more than a few hours at a time?

Please help,

Sleepy Head

Dear Sleepy Head,

That is quite the dilemma, and it’s definitely one I have experience with.

My first recommendation is to attend your Zoom classes in a space other than your room, if possible. For example, I work in the kitchen so my roommates can nudge me awake if it looks like I’m about to fall asleep. Consider where your roommates or family members spend a lot of time and do your classes there (if it isn’t too distracting).

With that, you should avoid attending class on your bed or a couch. You said you almost fall asleep on your desk so it sounds like you’re already doing this, but it is important to continue. Choose a designated study spot, either a desk or a table, and always do your classes there. Having that routine will help you stay awake. 

I also recommend you don’t get too comfortable. I am always cold, so I have a tendency to put on a blanket or a comfy sweatshirt. However, that makes it that much easier for me to fall asleep. If you can work somewhere that is hot or cold or generally slightly uncomfortable, you’ll have an easier time staying awake.

If you don’t do this already, have something to drink while you’re in class. It could be water, tea, coffee or another beverage of your choosing. All that matters is you have something to shock you awake when you feel yourself drifting off. 

When it comes to napping, I don’t think that is a bad thing. I am a napper myself so I can’t condemn you for it. If you’re concerned by how much you’re napping, limit yourself to one nap a day and set an alarm for 20-30 minutes, instead of an hour or longer. You’ll feel more rested and it will be easier to get up when your alarm goes off. 

If you have tried all these things and you’re still struggling to stay awake, I recommend you examine your sleeping habits and fix them if needed. Because we’ve been in quarantine, it’s been easier than ever to stay up until all hours of the night and sleep through most of the day. Try to avoid this, if you can.

Get yourself on a consistent sleeping schedule, and you’ll have a much easier time feeling awake and energized throughout the day. I used to get up early to finish homework, but now I have a schedule where I wake up at 7 a.m. every day. My body has started waking up naturally before my alarm, which makes me feel less tired when I eventually get out of bed. See if that could help with your sleepiness.

Finally, if all this doesn’t work and it’s still getting in the way of your daily activities, I suggest consulting your doctor. I am by no means a sleep expert, so you may need help from a professional.

I hope this helps!



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