The wakeful buzz hacks: Getting past the midday slump

Illustrations by Lynoelle Kyle Arayata

College students are probably one of the most sleep-deprived populations in the world, considering last minute cramming for projects, pulling all-nighters with thesis mates, midnight roving at bars, and late night YouTube browsing addiction.

Consequently, some tend to guiltily sneak some sleep in the middle of class when they think our professors aren’t looking. Although it’s not advisable to stay alert when our bodies scream for sleep, the things to be crossed-out on our to-do list force us to keep our eyes open. To sustain energy for the day, follow these easy five guidelines to wake our sleepy heads.

Talk out the trance

With the combined heat and long droning lectures, it’s inevitable that we might end up falling asleep and our friends would either tap us on the shoulder to wake us up or let us fall out of our chair to get a real wakeful boost.  Either way, trying to keep your body awake and alert won’t be of much help if your mind is always drifting off. To fire up those brain cells and keep your mind active, you have to actively participate in thought, whether you’re listening to your teacher speak or chatting with your friend at the back of the classroom.

When we’re fading fast, our minds could get moving again by engaging ourselves in a conversation, says Maimonides Sleep Arts and Sciences Medical Director Barry Krakow. During class, participating in classroom discussions and asking questions about the lesson would aid in exercising your brain and keeping you conscious throughout. When your professor calls for a ten-minute break, grab the opportunity to trade funny stories with your friends, or much better, ask their latest chikka. Apparently, the reason behind drowsiness may be a response to stress caused by academics, as stated by Dartmouth Student Wellness Center of Hanover. The students, however, can put their attention to the background discussion and set aside first their motive of sleeping by partaking in recitation even without being sure of the answer––especially when the outcome includes extra points in class and a temporarily revived consciousness.

With afternoon classes injecting the sleepy spell slowly into our body, our subconscious tells us that it’s alright for us to have some rest. Thankfully, battling it with chitchat with a seatmate would help, but make sure to lessen your volume as you do so.

Fuel up with water

Ever since we were young, we’ve all been told to drink eight glasses of water a day. Some of us might know firsthand how vital water is from experiencing the heat of summer, intense sporting events, and even hangovers that make the body’s demand for water just as necessary than oxygen. However, some of us still overlook its benefits to our body, especially when it comes to staying awake.

Not only does it give refreshment when we feel thirsty, but it also battles dehydration and fatigue. National Geographic says that dehydration impacts the flow of oxygen to the brain and causes our heart to work harder to pump oxygen to all organs, making us feel more tired and less alert. That’s why insufficient supply of water in our body makes us feel exhausted already. Heading to the drinking fountain would give you a quick energy boost. Although you don’t need to go out every time just to have a drink, bringing a water tumbler would be more advisable than skipping class just to take a nap.

By staying hydrated, you stay energized and by all means, you can conquer the struggle of falling asleep. You might get embarrassed of those frequent requests to go to the bathroom, but at least it’ll keep you moving—and conscious.

Provoking sensibility

Let’s say that you’re not into caffeine or you’re not in a place where you could easily grab a drink or food. The only thing that you have is yourself. The point is, like a scout, maximizing resources is necessary. The easiest way to stay awake is by stimulating your senses wherein the more parts of your body are alert: Your eyes, nose, and even your ears could be more alert and active just by triggering their sensibility.

While scanning through your lecture notes, you might want to position yourself in a brighter lightning that can make you feel more alert. “Light inhibits the pineal gland’s production of melatonin, a hormone that appears to facilitate sleepiness,” according to The Telegraph. Another thing, you might also want to try placing your index finger across your nose from top to bottom, lining your finger up with the airways on your nose. This can trick your body into being more alert than you really feel, says Daily Mail website.

It may sound funny, but a little light push can wake your senses; the same principle as splashing water on your face or snapping a rubber band on your wrist. The National Sleep Foundation of Washington experts recommend that the shock of the sensation may help you feel more awake just like how tugging on your ears does the same impact.

Pushing through the points

What prevents us from falling asleep is by waking up our senses, and by this means, making use of its sensitivity to provoke pain will activate our brain. Using your body’s own pressure points to help unblock and stimulate the natural flow of energy is one of the solution for your afternoon slump. As they say, “No pain, no gain,” so applying pressure of a nonacademic sort might just keep you awake during sleep-inducing lectures.

According to researcher Richard E. Harris of the University of Michigan Health System’s Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, “acupressure can change alertness in people who are in classroom settings for a full day––which could be very good news for students who have trouble staying alert at school.” Those students who wanted to revive their consciousness during classes can easily do it by massaging the top of their head, back of the neck and hands in a circular motion. Other stimulation points are also founded on the back of your knee and the bottom of your feet, so adding a little force in tapping your knee and stamping your feet (not as obvious as possible) will make you feel less sleepy and more awake.

These stimulation points are very much effective compared to the other points on our body.  In the study, which appears on The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers compared the effects of applying pressure to relaxation points and stimulation points.  They found out that it’s much better if you perform these acupressure techniques on the specified stimulation points rather than the relaxation points founded on the leg, hand, feet, and head. With this knowledge, your fingers have something new to do other than just writing long lectures.

Performing these simple acupressure massage techniques might make you look weird in the middle of the class, but at least it will prevent you from snoozing.


Keeping yourself awake after pulling an all-nighter can be tough, especially when the heat of summer afternoon comes in sync with exhausting subjects. Following these tips might help you fight the urge to sleep and give you midday boost, but it can’t control your internal body clock. These are only temporary fixes for you. Target the root cause by rewarding yourself with some good night’s sleep.