There’s nothing like the start of a new semester to really make you feel inspired and empowered. I know that when I begin a class I have all these expectations for myself – attend every class, participate, get an A+ and maybe even write an amazing paper. What I don’t think about is how I can do all of that as a walking zombie – because unfortunately, as I have learned throughout my studies, 8 a.m. classes do exist and they can be tough to get through for night owls like myself. Luckily, I have found some really great ways to survive the dreaded early morning lecture, so I’m not too worried about not meeting my own academic expectations.
Here are my top five tips for students who might need the extra help getting through an 8 a.m. class!
1. Get six to seven hours of sleep the night before
I know how difficult it is as a student to get the right amount of sleep or to go to bed early. A lot of time you have other responsibilities, like work or family, and can’t get to your homework until 8 or 9 p.m. There have been many nights I’ve been up late working on an assignment, knowing full well I have an 8 a.m. class the next morning. And while I might be helping the progress of my academic work, what I’m actually doing is hindering my attention and focusing abilities for the next morning in class. Getting the right amount of sleep will make it easier to wake up the next morning, and keep you alert and on your toes in lecture.
2. Eat breakfast
Breakfast is super important. Without it, you’ll be unfocused mid-morning because your mind hasn’t been fed. Consuming the right amount of calories before you head to class can keep your mind sharp and focused, and keep you that way throughout the day.
If you know you won’t have time to make yourself breakfast and eat it before class, make it the night before and bring it with you. Unlike high school, eating is perfectly fine in class (depending on the professor, of course), and when you’re having trouble keeping focused, you can keep yourself awake by snacking while you listen.
3. Go to the gym early morning
Okay, I’ll admit, this one is hard. It’s not impossible, though. If you’re able to get to sleep early and can drag yourself out of bed a few hours before your class, a workout will help tremendously to keep you sharp and focused during lecture. And while your classmates are dozing off, you’ll be awake and ready to learn, taking in all the important information and giving you a leg up when it comes to exam time.
4. Drink a lot of water
One trick that I find helps keep me alert in an early morning lecture is to drink a lot of water. Not only is the water refreshing and keeps my hands busy, but it will also give me an excuse to get up and stretch my legs at the break to refill the bottle (or use the ladies' room!). When I get up at the break I can get my body moving and wake it up, giving me a better chance of staying focused through the second half of class.
5. Take notes in class
Finally, if you’ve done all the tips above and you’re still feeling sleepy, challenge yourself to type all the key concepts that your professor is teaching in class. This way, while you might not fully retain the information right away, you’ll be able to come back to it later when you’re more focused and alert. You can also give handwriting notes a try, which will force you to focus even when you’re feeling sleepy.
What are some of your tips for making it through an 8 a.m. class? Let us know in the comments!