Imagine that it’s 9 AM and you haven’t slept all night because you were up working on a research paper with a submission due date of 8 AM. You can feel your eyelid twitching the way it only does when you’re beyond exhausted. You’re pretty sure you have more coffee than blood running through your body.

How in the world are you supposed to stay awake during your three hour lecture at 10 AM?

Well friends, I can easily say that I have been in this position more often than I’d like to admit. Most likely, you have been through something similar, and I’m happy to share with you a few tips to solve the problem of over-exhaustion from a full night of studying.

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Sit Towards The Front of the Class or Change Seats

If you have trouble focusing in class already, the added hindrance of little to no sleep is sure to distract you even more. Personally, when I have a class that I struggle paying attention to, I’ll sit by the front and alternate seats every few weeks. Changing your physical point of view definitely keeps you focused in the classroom and on what your professor is saying, as well as helps keep you awake in class!

Chew Away Your Woes

I picked up this habit during my sophomore year, and I’ve been using it ever since. The idea is that if you keep your mouth moving, it keeps you awake. I like to do this with sour candy or spicy chips (but you don’t want to be runny-nosed in class!), as it really helps to keep me alert and on top of it. Make sure that it is okay with your professor before chowing down in class, crunchy chips can be distracting, and you don’t want any Dorito marks on your notes! Chewing gum is your best bet, but make sure to keep blowing bubbles to a minimum!

Keep Your Hands Busy

Focus on moving your body while sitting in your desk! This doesn’t necessarily mean tapping your pen or your fingers on your desk, but make sure that your idle body doesn’t fall asleep! You’re usually taking notes during class already, so that should take care of this tip. But if it’s more of a listening and actively participating class, like a seminar, try bringing a rubber band or something similar into class to keep your hands occupied (without being distracting) and you’ll find that it really helps you stay awake.

Jam Out (Before Your Lecture Begins!)

You might be doing this already, but make a set playlist to turn on when you’re walking to a class! If you find that you really don’t want to be going to this class, listen to your favorite tunes to put you in a good mood. Personally, that involves a lot of Little Mix and Beyonce! Listen to music during breaks or between classes too, it can really keep you awake and get you pumped to get work done!

Turn Off The Devices!

This might come as a shock, but electronic devices like phones and tablets can be highly distracting during class. (Who would have guessed?!) Especially on a morning when you’re barely awake in the first place, any attention you can pull together is beyond valuable, so don’t waste it on the latest Snapchat filters! Turning off your phone when you’re in class is also a good habit to get into. Your professor will most likely respect you more when you’re not pulling it out every five seconds to check for updates.

Use Coffee — But Do So Wisely

This is usually the first thing students jump towards when trying to stay awake in class. However, as someone who takes medication that can mess with the caffeine, I’m telling you now – be careful! Caffeine is a drug, and it can hurt you just the same as any other when you don’t use it correctly. As a small warning, here’s how caffeine affected me personally. During my freshman year I was still figuring out how coffee mixed with my medication. My professor noticed my eyes rolling into the back of my head, and I ended up nearly passing out in class due to the bad mix. Of course, they told me that I should go lay down, and luckily I lived in the same building. Long story short, be careful of how much coffee you use, especially if you don’t drink it normally.

Go Over Your Notes Immediately After Class

I’ve started doing this as a study technique, but have you ever noticed that after a particularly uninteresting class, your notes start to look like the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone and by the end of the class they’re completely illegible? Okay, that might just be me, but if you think there’s a chance you might have trouble understanding your notes later, go over them while they’re fresh in your mind! Believe me, future studying you will be quite thankful. You can even try typing your hand-written notes to save them for studying later.

Related: 5 Daily Habits to Boost Your GPA

I hope that you find these tips useful for staying awake during class after pulling an all-nighter or just if you have trouble focusing during boring lectures)! The number one thing to remember is that your health is more important than any test or paper you need to get done, even if you don’t think so in the moment. Stay safe and stay healthy, and you’ll all get by just fine!


Photo Jul 31, 8 44 43 PM

Alexa is a contributor for The Young Hopeful and a lifestyle blogger from New York City (born and raised in California). She is on her way to getting her BA in English and her MS in Publishing, with the dream of working in a publishing house in the city. She loves her friends and family, YA novels, and staying up until 3am watching Gilmore Girls. You can find her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter!

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4 thoughts on “How to Stay Focused After an All-Nighter

    1. I’ve definitely been there! It just gets so expensive sometimes, which is a good motivator for getting sleep! Thank you for commenting, Name Buddy! 🙂

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  1. Great tips, although I have never had to pull of an all nighter lol. I like to sit in the front though so I agree with you. You can really do learn a lot more than sitting in the back in my experience.

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    1. Thank you! I mean, if you don’t have to do it, I don’t recommend it. I think people really underestimate just how much sitting near the front can make a difference in how much you take in for the class!

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