sleepiness while studying (1)

How to get rid of sleepiness while studying? 

Would you believe me if I said that it’s totally normal to feel sleepy while studying? 

Feeling sleepy is not a problem. There are millions of people around the world who have sleep disorders and insomnia and they find it very hard to fall asleep. 

So you really should change your perspective on this problem.

  • Feeling sleepy isn’t the problem
  • Not being able to focus is the problem! 

Tips to get rid of sleepiness while studying :

Take a power nap in between :

If you are feeling sleepy while studying, there could be many reasons behind it! If it’s just your mind getting lazy and comfortable then you can use the tips and tricks mentioned in this page to get over them. 

But sometimes your body and mind are genuinely tired and require sleep. So in such cases you could use this powerful tool called “power naps”.

Power naps are naps where the duration of sleep can vary from a few minutes to an hour

Some say the ideal range for a power nap can vary anywhere between 20-40 minutes. 

But in my experiences with power naps I don’t take it longer than 15-20 minutes because that will put me in a much deeper sleeping state. 

Here’s all the advantages of a power nap :

  • A German study has found that even sleeping for like 20-30 mins before an exam can improve our memory significantly and help us remember more details! 
    • Enhanced memory
    • Improved cognitive functions
    • Better logical reasoning
  • Reduces anxiety and stress that comes with studying and your brain becomes fresh and new for taking in more information. 
  • Takes away all the sleepiness
  • Better creativity
  • Also help improve physical health like heart health and reduces the risk of strokes

Be engaged in your studying :

What does this mean? To be engaged? 

Depending on what we are reading/solving/studying we could have different modes of engagement in between so our mind does just switch off. 

Just like how sometimes we move our mouse around if our laptops are idle of a long time so it wouldn’t go to sleep, engage with the study material so you wouldn’t fall asleep 

This could be as simple as :

  1. Ticking through the questions as and when you solve them
  2. Highlighting points while studying 
  3. Following the lines with pencil or any stationary object so there is some sort of engagement happening. 
  4. Writing rough notes so you could revise easily later! 

Anything to keep yourself engaged. Even if it’s an online class to a recorded video tutorial from YouTube, you could still engage by writing/typing notes in Google Docs so you wouldn’t feel sleepy. 


Don’t get too comfortable : 

When we get too comfortable while studying, our mind can relax too much which makes us fall asleep. 

We shouldn’t study in very cozy places like sofas or beds with dim lighting. Our brain would directly recognize that bedrooms are for sleeping and we doze off. 

Of course some people can pull off studying in beds but if you are reading this it’s better off if you study with a table and a chair! 

Disadvantages of studying in bed :

  • Can’t make notes easily
  • You won’t physically move much which makes you sleepy
  • You cannot concentrate for a long time
  • You have a more pleasurable activity (sleeping )than you can choose instead of studying any second you want. This pushes you to lay in bed
  • Your grasping capacity is low in bed when compared to studying at a table! 

Play songs :

Playing soft music while studying to help keep your focus and not get too sleepy or distracted. Instrumental songs or guitar solos work the best for me but you can always go explore the world of music and see which isn’t too distracting or sleepy for you. 

Here’s some proven ways in which music actually helps us study better :

  • Music can help relieve stress and anxiety during studying. 
  • It can help improve focus while studying
  • Music can aid endurance for longer study sessions
  • Music can also help with memorization because of the positive mood it sets us in. 
  • Music stimulates our mind which keeps us from falling asleep! 

What kinds of music can we listen to while studying/working to prevent sleepiness? 

I recommend exploring playlists in YouTube, Spotify and other music platforms that you use! 

What I like to listen to is :

  • Mozart music
  • Instrumental songs
  • Piano solo
  • Guitar solo
  • Relaxation music (That doesn’t make us cozy)
  • Sounds of nature 
  • Chill out electronic music

Music helps us reach a flow state where we are focused and everything just flows smoothly. 


Have company : Group study

This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but for those who don’t mind working or studying with a company, this is a great way to get rid of sleepiness! 

Advantages of group studies : 

  • We definitely cannot sleep when people are around and talking. 
    • This would be even harder if someone was actually supervising everyone. 
  • Better learning : Community promotes better learning with discussions and conversations. 
  • Prevents procrastination : Scheduled group activities always get rid of procrastination because we have to get the job done even if we don’t feel like it.
  • Promotes interactive group activities : Group activities such as questioning and testing each other and creating challenges will both improve your study experience but also prevents sleep
  • Better mental state : studying/ working alone everyday for long hours can be frustrating. Studying together with people breaks the pattern and adds a social aspect to it which helps with our mental health and productivity. 
  • Better communication : Just the act of explaining something to our friends and clarifying doubts improves our communication skills and talking keeps us away from nodding off while studying! 

Few tips to make your group studies more effective : 

  • Avoid big crowds : Don’t invite more than 5 people for a group study session because crowds can get messy and distracted 
  • Have a lead : The person who organized the group study should take up the responsibility of directing the whole session in a meaningful way and kind of lead the team to make sure the study session is productive. 
  • Proper meeting place : Choose a proper meeting place which is free from distractions and triggers and has a positive study vibe to it. Someplace where everyone actually feels comfortable! 
  • Have scheduled intervals : Having intervals is crucial as it directs the group to stay strong and focused until the break comes. And spending 15 mins talking with friends is way better than being alone and trying to entertain ourselves. 

 Change Locations : 

When we feel too sleepy, just changing the location of study can make a huge difference. 

There are so many aspects to choosing locations for studying and I recommend trying this to get better results! 

Just experiment to understand what works well for you

  • Do you love silent places? 
  • Or do you want some sort of background distraction to keep going? 
  • Studying alone works for you or having a partner would help?. 
  • Explore all these places 
    • Library
    • Bedroom
    • Kitchen
    • Classroom
    • Coffee Shop

Avoid dark rooms : 

Coming back to the point that we made earlier, our brain associates certain things to the feeling of sleepiness. 

This includes dim or dull lighting because we sleep in dark rooms. Makes sense right? 

So in order to avoid sleepiness, have a well lit room. 

Avoid using

  • Lamps
  • Serial lights
  • Design lights that gives a good vibe ( But not for studying) 

In addition to feeling sleepy, being in dim lighting has various other negative effects on our body :

  • Reduces the brain ability to learn and grow 
    • Visible structural changes in our hippocampus is observed for people who are exposed to dim lights constantly for over four weeks
  • Deteriorates your vision

Get help from friends : Put Social Media to good use : 

Friends who have problems falling asleep during studies can help each other in their tough times. 

Let’s put social media and the messaging apps to good use here! Schedule 10 mins reminders and message each other to make sure you are engaged and focused on studies. 

Plus adding a social aspect to an activity makes it more interesting and fun for our brain. 

One could even create groups where people keep each other focused and engaged before exams by talking, asking questions and discussing concepts. 


Use gamified focus apps : 

There are numerous apps out there that helps students focus on their studies. Focus apps can help keep you up because they will be gamified in some ways which would improve your chances of being focused and not falling asleep 

Do go to the play store and explore the range of apps that’s out there to help you study better! 

Here are some of my favorite apps that help me stay focused :

  • Forest : 
    • This app will have a timer that starts when we start studying. This is when a seed is planted. 
    • We need to set an amount for the number of minutes we plan to study continuously without distractions
    • In that time, the seed will grow into a plant and then into a tree
    • They also actually plant a tree in our world once we unlock certain levels
    • So it serves a good cause too! 
  • Study Bunny : 
    • This is a similar app where we earn coins through completing focus challenges
    • With those coins we can buy our study bunny things and the game takes you to places as you keep playing! 
  • Focus Quest : 
    • This game could be a literal translation of your academic and mental strength
    • This is a typical conquest game where we get to operate a soldier and we can update his weapons and armoury and looks and so on
    • And in order to do that we need to earn coins with studying
    • If he is stronger that means you have spent a significant amount of time focusing which makes you strong as well! 

Get a high protein diet before studying : 

Just like the cars we drive, our brain needs fuel too. Of course we all eat our share everyday without fail, what we eat matters a lot too. 

Foods that are 

  • Protein rich 
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Egg
  • Poultry
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy products
  • Having antioxidants 
    • Fruits and veggies
  • Omega 3
    • Chicken, fish, flax seeds, flax oil
  • Monounsaturated fats
    • Olive oil, peanut oil, avocado, nuts 

These foods help improve your cognitive functions and provide your brain with everything it needs to function optimally. 

One might wonder ” What does this food have to do with my sleepiness? “

This food helps improve your mood and mental fatigue and provides the mental energy required to study long hours and overcome any chances of feeling drowsy or sleepy! 


Stay hydrated :

Following protein-rich food comes another important thing : Water. 

We have heard this all our life ” Drink more than a liter of water a day! ” Right? 

But how does water help with studying? 

  • Helps you stay calm and composed
  • Attention and memory functions : our brains have around 85% water.  So it’s extremely important that we keep ourselves hydrated so our brain functions properly
  • Improvement in concentration caused by : 
    • Keeps toxins away from brain
    • Transports nutrients to the brain
    • Production of hormones and neurotransmitters in brain
    • All these are essential for proper functioning of our brain! 
  • Cools your body down which relaxes the brain! 

Well do you need more convincing that being hydrated helps improve study performance? 


Consume caffeine : 

Using caffeine to stay awake is not a new trick. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and makes you alert. Dealing with drowsiness with caffeine can be effective but make sure you don’t get addicted to it!

Take proper scheduled breaks to refresh your brain : 

Trying too much can burn us out and make us disinterested in the task in hand which is the number one reason for someone feeling sleepy.

So take scheduled breaks in between and avoid big distractions in these breaks so you don’t lose the mindset! Breaks are very essential for anyone and are important for productivity!

Manage your stress : https://thedigitalhope.com/mental-health/stress-relief-games/ 

Get rid of it completely :

Now there’s a difference between managing to study while you are sleepy and actually getting rid of sleepiness while studying. 

To change the way your body and mental state is, you need to make big changes to your lifestyle. 

What we are trying to do is essentially is changing our lifestyle so we have proper balance of hormones in our brain so we wouldn’t feel sleepy when we are trying to study. 

Get help with the subject | Don’t hurry :

When we skim through a lot of our study material without understanding much of the concepts or the material that’s in the subject, we will eventually get frustrated, bored and stop paying attention which makes us fall asleep. 

I remember how I used to feel drowsy especially during math class because we often don’t follow everything properly and end up not understanding which would make us fall asleep. 

This also happens while reading literature, and we often fall asleep when we do not understand the words properly. 

So don’t be in a hurry because that would only cause you to waste more time and lose focus! 


Use emotions to your advantage :

How do you feel when you are unproductive? 

How do the people around you make you feel when you fail in stuff? How do you feel about yourself when you don’t achieve what you desire? Awful, right? 

Use these emotions. Remember all the times when the people in your life humiliated you. Use the negative emotions to drive you. 

When you are driven by emotions, it’s really not easy for you to fall asleep because you would be excited to go through the journey. 

This step will also help you be more self aware of your emotions and the reasons why you are driven to something. This drive can change and evolve with time but at least you will constantly seek to find answers to questions about yourself.


Find your rhythm :

Sometimes you might have done everything right except understanding yourself. 

Different people have different rhythms and it’s important that we are aware of our rhythm and take steps to use it 

For instance, here are some techniques people use which works well for them

Morning person :  Feel more energized and ready to go in the mornings. Waking up early and studying in the morning will help improve productivity and reduce sleepiness

Midnight Owl : This type of person loves to work at nights and is more productive and less distracted and sleepy at nights

Focus on one task/subject a day : focusing on a single subject or a kind of work an entire day can feel repetitive and boring for some but some people work well when they can dive deep and finish a particular subject/work raer  shuffling between multiple jobs. 

Reward based hustle :

 Who doesn’t love rewards? Well some people love them more than others. If you are a kind of person who can endure and handle acute stress, try fixing a reward for yourself for finishing a huge task. 

For instance, I personally love this method as it works really well for me. You should set goals in workloads rather than days of work in order to actually get everything done properly. 

Reward yourself with something that you know you will enjoy! 

How does it help prevent sleep? 

  • Being driven by desire can push people to do things they never thought was possible in the first place
  • The dream of the reward will keep our minds occupied and doesn’t let us sleep! 

Avoid sugary diets or any food that makes us sleepy

Avoid any food that is rich in sugar and is sweet to eat! 

  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • Donuts
  • Soft drinks, sport drinks, energy drinks

These sugary foods will make you feel sleepy which makes it harder for you to study. 

Just cut out these foods on the day you are planning to study. But this is not so easy because sugar can be addictive to certain people because

  • Our brain releases some feel good chemicals whenever we eat sugar cause of the high calories
  • The taste of chocolate can release endorphins in my brains which in turn makes us feel great

If you are someone who uses sugar as a coping mechanism to the stress in your life then here are some tips :

  • Try chewing gums : 

Use this as a temporary solution as many dieticians state that gums help us control our food and sugar cravings. 

But chewing gum is not a healthy thing for us as it has its own disadvantages! 

  • Replace chocolates with fruits :

Fruits are a good replacement to any chocolates as it has a lot of fibers and nutrients along with some natural sweetness. 

Having some nuts can also be a good tactic to just eat something to keep our hunger under control. 

  • Eat regularly :

Eating regularly will maintain the blood sugar level and keep you full so you wouldn’t crave sugars. It is recommended that we eat once every 4-5 hours so we don’t get hungry. 

  • Take it slow :

Even if it’s very hard for you to suddenly cut sugar off completely, make sure you reduce the quantity of intake at least. 

When the cravings get too high, eat a small piece of chocolate rather than consuming a whole bar of it. 


Workout before studying! 

For all the teenagers and people who hate working out, you are going to miss out on a world of opportunities in this section. 

There’s so much mind boosting effects of working out that could easily be the solution to your “sleeping while studying” problem

Improved Concentration :

Working out improves blood flow to our brains that will promote cell growth in the hippocampus which is responsible for control, concentration and focus! 

So do around 20 minutes of exercise before you workout to get better concentration and focus and forget feeling sleepy! 

Improves mood:

Feeling demotivated or over stressed can cause lapse in concentration which is one of the main reasons for feeling sleepy! 

Now working out before studying helps release endorphins which is the feel good chemical our brain and spinal cord releases and this will improve our mood tremendously! 

Increased Energy Levels :

Working out improves energy levels. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. Improved energy levels means less chances of falling asleep while studying. 

Strengthened Memory :

People who workout often have better mental growth as physical exercise releases a protein in our brain that will help improve cognitive functions

Final note :

  • Don’t work out too hard before studying as that would drain all your energy
  • One can try light exercises while studying like walking or cycling in between! 
  • Make it a habit : Be consistent with your daily workouts

Get proper sleep at night! 

If you don’t get enough sleep at night, it’s totally normal for you to feel tired while studying. 

But many studies have proven that sleeping does more than just provide mental energy to students but improve the ability to learn, memorize, recall and recreate information! 

An approximate improvement of 20-40% is observed in people who slept well! The stage 3 of sleep is called deep NREM sleep and is responsible for creating long term memory as the brain waves released at this time serves as a transport service in spreading information from Hippocampus to more prominent and permanent storage sites in the brain to consolidate the brand new information that you studied. 

More than this, a sleep deprived person has very low focus span and will struggle to study efficiently. The neurons in our brains don’t fire optimally which leads to poor cognitive functions in our brains. 

What does all this mean? 

Just make sure you get enough sleep at night. 

Source : https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory#:~:text=Research%20suggests%20that%20sleep%20helps,essential%20for%20learning%20new%20information


FINALLY CHECK FOR MEDICAL CONDITIONS : 


My “Get rid of sleep” routine:

Out of all the tips and advice that I gathered in this article, these are the ones that I actually use:

STEP 1 : Ask yourself if you can actually afford to spare some time for sleep? 

Even if it’s before exams and if you are just stressed out, take a few minutes to power nap if your brain is tired and sleepy. 

So can you really spare time for a quick nap? If yes, do so. 

STEP 2 : CHANGE LOCATION :

If I just felt really sleepy in a place, I would change my location of studying so I will have a different atmosphere 

STEP 3 : QUICK WORKOUT :

Working out is probably the last thing you might feel like doing but it’s important you do this so your heart is pumping and your sleepiness goes away! 

Just a few pushups and squats would do. 

If you are not a fan of workouts, at least try jogging or jumping or skipping or anything to increase your heart beat! 

STEP 4 : FACE WASH :

After the workout, go for a quick face wash so you feel fresh to continue studying! 

STEP 5: Get back to studying! 

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Written by Sai Subramaniam

Sai has over 4 years experience writing about mental health and productivity. He shares his thoughts about love, life and business in this blog. His goal is to help people become the best version of themselves and is guided by experts in the psychology and mental health field to help educate everyone about lifestyle and productivity

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