How College Students Can Avoid Falling Asleep While Reading

How College Students Can Avoid Falling Asleep While Reading


Midterms are right around the corner, which means you’ll be studying more than usual. It seems like the solution is to stay up late and read. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, that’s the worse thing you can do for yourself. They explain, “First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.” So what’s a stressed and tired college student to do?

Luckily, there are ways to avoid falling asleep while reading and still get plenty of rest before test time. Here’s how.

Eat or drink something healthy

It’s easy to justify an energy drink as a way to keep you awake. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sugar is the one thing you want to avoid if you plan on staying awake while reading. The National Sleep Foundation writes, “consuming too much sugar during the day can lead to an energy crash. Eating lots of sugar reduces the activity of what are called orexin cells. As a result, you’re going to feel pretty sleepy.” Additionally, eating sugar right before bed causes you to have a restless sleep making you feel exhausted the next day.

Go somewhere public

Head over to a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a bookstore, and bring along your study material. By sitting somewhere out in public, you are probably less likely to fall asleep while studying. Think about it. You have to keep an eye on your belongings, plus, who wants to be seen fast asleep in public? Make sure it is somewhere energizing too. If the environment is relaxing with soothing music and dim lighting, that could put you to sleep. 

Read at your desk and not in your bed

If you like to read a good book in bed before you get some shut-eye, great! Dr. Raman Malhotra, associate professor of neurology at the Washington University Sleep Center in St. Louis, Missouri, agrees that reading can put your mind and body in the right mindset to go to sleep. However, when it comes to reading something like a textbook, that’s one thing you don’t want to associate sleep with. The difference between reading your textbook while sitting at a desk versus your bed can impact whether or not you stay awake while studying.

Have a good exercise and sleep routine

Exercising and sleep go hand-in-hand with one another. Each day, get out and get your heart pumping. The more you exercise, the more energized you’ll feel. Exercising regularly also promotes sleep. Getting a full 8-hours in each night is the right amount to get for a fresh start each day.

Don’t expect to do it all in one go

Reading an entire textbook in one evening is possible, but as to whether or not you’ll fall asleep while doing so is up in the air. You may get bored or miss out on important information. Or you could end up rereading paragraphs because you’ve come across something that requires discussing with your professor. Set realistic goals, take breaks, and break down the text into pieces, all of which will help you avoid falling asleep while reading. You’ll be more productive and be able to memorize the material more effectively than trying to learn everything in one evening.   

College students have a lot of reading on their plate, which is why speed reading is a great skill to learn. Find out more about all of the speed reading courses we offer here at Iris Reading today. By getting through your textbook at great neck speed, you’ll study more in less time and be more prepared for your next exam. 

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