She’s wide awake. Are you?
It is a regular sunny Singapore day. After gobbling down that bowl of mee soto, all that yellow mee, tao gay and shredded meat warm and settled in your tummy, followed by a teh ping to wash down all that MSG, you proceed to carry the weight of your entire being up the stairs…
Pass the toilet
Gostan a few steps (you decide to relief yourself before going back)
Then as you drag your feet back to the classroom, you look down at your shoes and somehow they remind you of Homerun...
Remember this scene?
You settle in your seat, chat with your classmates and let the ceiling fans hypnotise you with their swirls.
Miss Zubaida, Mr Tan or Madam Cheong enters the classroom.
The class stands to greet the cher, and history lesson begins.
Fifteen minutes into class, you start yawning. Your eyelids are closing. You daze into thin air, fantasising about who-knows-what (or not thinking about anything at all).
Half an hour later, you wake up with your drool all over the textbook. Miss Zubaida, Mr Tan or Madam Cheong throws you a death stare. And the rest is history…
Have you ever experienced something like this in school before? I certainly did. (In fact that’s my story).
Sleepy spells be gone! Here are five tips on how to stay awake in class, like a pro.
1. Have enough sleep the night before
It has been reported on Straits Times that “A 2014 study by Jawbone shows that Singapore is among cities in the world with the least hours of sleep, clocking an average of 6 hours and 32 minutes a day.”
Another report reveals that “more than a third of lower primary school pupils are not getting enough sleep, but only 8 per cent of parents recognise that their child may have sleep problems.”
The National Sleep Foundation has even confirmed that youngsters aged 14 to 25 should be getting 7 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
Having enough sleep the night before is a no-brainer, yet few people take it seriously!
Watch these videos to convince yourself that sleep is really important!
Here are 3 tips on how to promote sleep:
- Stop using technology 30 minutes before bed
No cell phone – no lap top – no kindle. Light from these gadgets block melatonin, which can help you fall asleep. A 30 minutes wind-down with relaxation and reading (a paper book) can make it easier to fall asleep.
- Incorporate a small amount of time each day to be outside in daylight
Time spent outside during the day helps to preserve your body’s sleep and wake cycles.
Walk to class… study outside… play an outdoor sport… relax in the sun… schedule a weekly walk… do something outside!
- Try to get some physical activity on most days
Exercise promotes regular sleep and wake patterns as well as reduce stress.
However, it’s important to avoid exercise and other vigorous activities three-to-four hours before going to bed. You don’t want to awaken your body before sleeping!
And a word for those who love pulling all-nighters:
Avoid it. While all-nighters and late-night study sessions may appear to give you more time to cram, they are also likely to drain your brainpower.
Sleep deprivation hinders your ability to perform critical thinking, which is an essential function of the mind. It is also unlikely that you will retain much information at the expense of being sleep-deprived.
A research article written by Harvard University’s Medical school about the correlation between sleep and learning reveals that:
“sleep, learning, and memory are complex phenomena that are not entirely understood. Sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.”
What this means for you is that it is better to have enough sleep regularly, than stay up late for that extra revision. It is also better to sleep well the night before an exam, even if it means studying for fewer hours.
2. Drink more water
After all, we learn in primary school (for some reason) that we can survive weeks without food, but only days without water. And I don’t mean sugary soft drinks or frappuccinos which are liquid calories that give you sugar rush and caffeine jitters.
Livescience reports that water is:
– The solvent for important biochemical reactions, supplying nutrients and removing waste.
– Essential for maintaining blood circulation throughout your body.
– The maintainer of body temperature. As you exercise, your metabolism and your internal body temperature increase.
Water carries heat away from your internal organs before serious damage occurs. The heat travels through your bloodstream to your skin, causing you to sweat. As the sweat evaporates, this allows you to cool off and maintain a safe body temperature, optimal functioning and health.
Daily water intake must be balanced with losses to maintain total body water. Once you start feeling thirsty, you’ve probably lost about 1 percent of your body water and are dehydrated. With a 2 percent water loss, you could experience serious fatigue and cardiovascular impairments.
With our bodies being 50 – 65% water, humans are especially vulnerable to dehydration, which causes headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and other discomforts. We constantly lose water through sweat, urine, feces, and even in our breath.
So the best thing to do is to hydrate ourself with water, which in turn energises you!
Furthermore, since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you think, focus and concentrate better.
Researchers from the University of East London and the University of Westminster in the UK analyzed the potential effects of water on cognitive performance and mood among 34 youths, and concluded that drinking water boosts one’s brain’s reaction time.
The participants were assessed via three measurements – a thirst scale, a mood scale and with a computer-administered variety of tasks called the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). Participants who drank around three cups of water (775 milliliters) just before completing experimental tests had a 14% increased reaction time compared with those who did not drink any water.
That’s a significant difference!
Here are some suggestions to make drinking water a delectable affair:
- Buy a nice water bottle. You won’t be able to resist not using it!
- Infuse a slice of lemon in your water
- Infuse fruits in your water
- Infuse Redoxon in your water and watch it sizzle
- Infuse cucumber slices in your water
Drinking water not only feeds your brain and keeps you hydrated, it also aids digestion, helping you combat food coma. Which leads me to my next point –
3. Avoid overeating and sugar
Food is designed to give you energy, but digestion takes a lot of energy and leaves you tired directly after a meal. If you overeat, food coma (or postprandial somnolence) is inevitable.
Basically, when a sizeable mass in your stomach is detected, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This causes a general state of low energy and sleepiness. So, when there is too much yum yum in your tum tum within too short a period of time, you are bound to land yourself in a state of food coma.
How then can we beat food coma? Here are 3 tips!
- Don’t eat like you are having the last meal of your life
This point is straightforward. The more you eat, the higher chance of getting a food coma. Eat less, avoid food coma.Of course, it’s easier said than done. What could this mean for you? Perhaps, instead of eating a whole bowl of mee soto, share half the bowl with a buddy and munch on almonds in between lessons.
- Have your breakfast in the morning
When you skip breakfast, you’ll not only be more prone to overeating in the afternoon, it will also hit your empty stomach harder. So try to eat at least a little.If time is the problem, prepare something the night before. It takes some effort, but you’ll be happy with yourself the next morning. If you’re not the morning eater, you don’t have to eat a full meal. Just some fruit, yoghurt or cereal helps too.
- Drink a large glass of water 20-30 minutes before your meal
It’s water again!Our brain tends to confuse dehydration with hunger, sending the same hunger signal although you may actually be thirsty. Furthermore, water fills our tummy and aids in digestion.
In addition, Scientific American identifies sugar as the main culprit of food coma:
“As food breaks down into glucose-the simplest form of sugar, which the body uses for fuel-you will experience a surge in blood sugar. To counter this spike, your body releases the hormone insulin. Insulin helps to mop up the excess glucose in the blood and returns levels to normal. The increase in insulin also causes your brain to produce more serotonin and melatonin-two neurochemicals that can leave you feeling drowsy.”
Choose plain water over soft drinks, or at least flavoured teas instead of the infamous coca cola!
Click here to read 3 popcorn pointers for uninterested students.
4. Be active in class
Boring classes are boring, and you couldn’t care less.
But if you want to stay awake, keep your ears, eyes, hands and even body active!
Bustle.com interviewed a few health specialists on the topic of staying awake, and these are two of their findings:
- Happiness coach Scott Crabtree advocates face-to-face contact as an energising solution. He explains that “we are social creatures; we get energy from each other. Even introverts get a mood boost from social contact — although they may not desire it as much as extroverts.”
- Holistic health coach Sarah Jacobs recommends self-massaging as it is a great way to get blood circulating and stimulate your nervous system. She advises rubbing the back of your own neck and up your scalp for a jolt of energy, pinching the pad between your thumb and forefinger, and squeezing your earlobes.
Besides these, you can also take advantage of your individual learning styles and perform activities in class that enhance your learning experience.
If you are a visual learner, try:
- taking and copying notes
- drawing and doodling concepts
- requesting for your teacher to show pictures and videos
If you are an auditory learner, try:
- sitting in front of the class so you can hear your teacher better
- talking to yourself or verbally repeating the points that your teacher made
- discussing with your friends
If you are a tactile learner, try:
- fiddling with items on your desk (quietly)
- holding small objects in your hand
- building models
If you are a kinaesthetic learner, try:
- using body movements for expression
- walking around the room discretely
- volunteering yourself for class demonstrations
These four learning styles are just four of many different models, there is also the VARK model, kolb, felder-silverman, and multiple intelligences. Take time to find out which learning style is yours!
5. Keep breathing
Are you breathing?
This is the usual breathing exercise that you can find on the internet:
Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and slowly exhale through your mouth for 15 seconds.
Breathing helps promote alertness during the day and sleep at night because of how it clears the mind of cluttered thoughts. As you inhale and exhale intentionally, you get a fresh supply of oxygen into your overworked mind.
Here are 5 cool things that breathing does, which I’m sure you don’t already know!
Breathing Detoxifies and Releases Toxins
Your body is designed to release 70% of its toxins through breathing.If you are not breathing effectively, you are not properly ridding your body of its toxins, which means that other systems in your body must work overtime.When you exhale air from your body you release carbon dioxide (wastes) that passes through your bloodstream into your lungs. This improves the quality of your blood too!
Breathing Massages Your Organs
The movements of the diaphragm during a breathing exercise massages the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart.When you inhale air your diaphragm descends and your abdomen will expand. By this action you massage vital organs and improves circulation in them. Controlled breathing also strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles.
Breathing Improves Posture
Bad body posture is a result of incorrect breathing. Good breathing techniques over a sustained period of time will correct and cultivate good posture.
Proper Breathing assists in Weight Control
If you are overweight, the extra oxygen burns up the excess fat more efficiently. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen feeds the starving tissues and glands. Kill two birds with one stone; breathe properly.
Breathing Relieves Pain
Recall every TV scene showing a pregnant lady delivering her baby. What does she do?
You may not realise how breathing plays a role in how you think, feel and experience life, but it does affect you significantly.Think: what happens to your breathing when you anticipate pain? You probably hold your breath. Yet, breathing right into your pain actually helps ease it.
Every student struggles with staying awake in class. Frankly speaking, just sleep if you’re really sleepy. I’m sure your young minds are sharp enough to catch up soon enough! But if you, as a conscientious and exemplary student, wish to stay awake in class, then:
- have enough sleep the night before
- drink more water
- avoid overeating and sugar
- be active in class and
- keep breathing!
Alternatively, you can also:
- splash cold water on your face
- sniff a peppermint leaf
- learn from Mr Bean
You’ll be fine…