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Five tips on how to turn up for early morning classes and stay awake

Meld Magazine

Tue Feb 24 2015


EARLY morning classes are the worst. All students, international and local, know this. It’s a struggle to wake up  but Gabriella Ariffin has five tips on how to  turn up and stay awake during morning class.

It’s no secret that international students face many challenges and obstacles during their time away from their home country. But honestly, the real struggle lies in waking up for those dreaded early morning classes.

It’s a ritual that all students, international or otherwise, face: fighting against the alarm clock in the morning, that chilly morning breeze, making sure you catch your train/tram on time and finally, staying awake and concentrating in class.

The struggle is real but there are ways to combat morning fatigue to make the battles against your early morning classes a little easier to win.

1. Adjust your body clock


Graphic: Julian Lee

Apparently, the best alarm clock you could depend on is your own body. There is a part in our brain called suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) which sets a sleeping cycle in our body and by setting that appropriately, waking up early in the morning becomes an easier task.

To adjust your body clock, you will first need to adjust your bedtime; the earlier the better. For some people this could be the hardest part. Try to set the mood and be relaxed around bedtime; do not take a nap in the afternoon and avoid drinking too much coffee in order to sleep earlier.

Discipline is also integral in adjusting your body clock as you will need to follow the schedule, even on in weekends, so that it eventually becomes a habit.

Your SCN will respond to light in your room so switch off all light sources in your room including lamps, computers, mobile phones. Natural light in the morning should just peek through the room, enough to wake you up. This can be achieved by opening half of your window’s blinds before sleeping.

2. Create simple motivations


Graphic: Julian Lee

To win a fight you need a motivation to keep on going. It’s the same with waking up early in the morning – if you have something to look forward to, it tends to be much easier to get up and go.

By having something to look forward to, you’ll be less grumpy when you start the day and be in a more positive mood.

Whether you’re meeting friends, going to a job interview or know that you’re a few words away from finishing that 2,000 word essay, starting your day in a lighter mood will help set the tone for the rest of the day.

Another motivating factor that may prove effective is knowing the cost of every class you’re enrolled in every semester. By having this knowledge, you’ll feel that you’re not putting your education to waste (as well as your parents’ hard-earned money) and would motivate you in your studies.

Furthermore, by simply turning up to every class, teachers and lecturers may recognise and appreciate your effort to do so, thus improving your relationship with them.

3. Practice morning ritual


Graphic: Julian Lee

To begin something new, the first step is often the hardest. Start your day with some activities that you like and ease your way into the daily grind. It needs to be short and simple, but enjoyable.

For example exercising, walking around the house, reading the news off your tablet or smart phone, making coffee, singing your favourite songs or taking a deep breath and enjoying the silence are all activities you can do to help lessen the burden of the day.

Whatever it is you like to do before you step out the door, make sure you have an adequate amount of time to do so, and schedule it accordingly from the time you turn off the alarm to when you leave for school.

4. Be prepared


Graphic: Julian Lee

Sure, you might be awake pretty early but being unprepared for class can still make you late.

Make sure you check your public transport’s schedule before going to sleep, prepare the outfit you want to wear to class the next day, and make sure you have everything you need for class including stationery and other related equipment.

5. Stay awake


Graphic: Julian Lee

Once you wake up the main goal for the rest of the day is to simply be awake and be alert in class.

There are many simple ways to avoid falling asleep, such as drinking coffee and eating candy mints. But the most effective way is probably to sit in the front row and try to be active during the class.

For some people, trying to stay awake is more complicated than that. Bad sleeping habits are quite common with young people and students and, in some cases, can lead to hypersomnia, or excessive sleepiness.

People with hypersomnia will feel tired and sleepy all the time and find it hard to concentrate on anything. The best way to avoid hypersomnia is to have a sufficient and good quality sleep at night!

Do you agree with our tips on how to stay awake for those pesky early morning classes? Do you have suggestions of your own? What methods and morning rituals have you personally stuck to that have worked for you? Let us know what your morning ritual is like and how you best prepare for early morning classes by sounding off in the comments section below!