I need tips for concentrating in class

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I need help with concentrating in my nursing school courses. More specifically, I need to tackle the sleepiness factor. I am of course referring to physical (and mental) alertness during a class. How does one stay ‘awake’ and focused when all your eyelids wanna do is close?

It’s not that the material isn’t riveting and key to my education *cough *cough*. Nooooooo. Not. At. All. My mind is not wandering due to boredom or due to attention challenges.



Ever happen to you? Never happens to me.


So here’s my question.

How does one stay focused on the material being provided in class when your eyelids don’t wanna cooperate? I know that we’ve discussed the NOC shift and tricks of the trade for staying awake, but this is a different sort of animal.

I find a heavy sense of irony when you put a nurse in a classroom. Here you have a professional ‘doer’ — someone who is constantly moving (running most often), never stays in one place or area for a very long time and always has an overabundance of stimuli coming at them from every direction.

So where is the one place you should not place this creature?

That’s right, in a quiet environment where there is only one source of stimuli (the presenter/professor/instructor). While you’re at it have them sit in this environment for very long and extended periods of time (I’ve had classes that are 4 hrs. long).

Most 2nd degree nursing programs and those RN-BSN programs are all structured the same way. They are trying to meet the needs of the busy full-time RN (not a bad thing at all). They understand that they are working full-time, usually have a family and many other responsibilities outside their work and home. So they try to minimize the amount of ‘time’ commitment by offering classes that meet only once a week for a large chunk of time, as opposed to the traditional college coursework that involves meeting 2-3 times per week for 40-50 minutes per class. Same amount of ‘total’ time to get your degree, just a lot less ‘relative’ time spent on campus.


Back to my original question at hand.

How does one keep the laser-sharp focus and mental alertness in the classroom when all you wanna do is take a nap?

I myself seem to be chewing a lot of gum right now and sipping frantically on bottled water, but as you can guess from me asking the question, my methods aren’t very effective?

Any suggestions??

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10 Responses to I need tips for concentrating in class

  1. Samantha Martinez

    What I do is bring snacks that come in little pieces such as cheerios or granola bits or any dry cereal and I munch on that when I get sleepy. Having to eat one cheerio at a time keeps me awake and concentrating and it keeps my hands busy!

  2. Velvet

    I find that some peppermint oil is very reviving, also eucalyptis oil is also helpful in improving alertness.Have some in a small bottle to sniff when you’re feeling drowsy. What I used to do was use a piece of cotton ball and place some of the oil on it and place it in a diffuser necklace that I had. The heat from your body warms the infuser and the scent constantly refreshes you. Or you can have the oil in a small GLASS bottle and take it out and sniff the bottle when you’re beginning to droop.

    • Argy Student

      How interesting! I’ll try this when I start working. =)

  3. Kate B

    First try to be totally interested and engaged in the subject. If that doesn’t work ask if you can stand in the back of the room. If you are struggling, I’d bet there are others that are too. Your instructor may remember a time when he/she had the same issue. Ask the instructor for a break. I remember when I was in medic school in the army, we would be so tired from marching and then had to sit in a droning classroom. The rule was, no sleeping in class. We could wander around but if we got caught sleeping, we were in big trouble. I remember falling asleep and nearly fell out of my chair when I started snoring and startled myself.

  4. GrannyRN

    It is very much within the best interest of the student(s) to request a break for at least 10 minutes for every 45-60 minutes of seated instructions. Most instructors will begin to notice when he/she has ‘lost’ the focus of the audience and call for a break.
    Or, as one professor of mine once said: ‘The mind can absorb only as much as the butt can tolerate.”

  5. 5 hour enrgy drink.No jitters and it keeps you awake.

  6. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions.
    @Velvet I have heard the peppermint oil suggestion before!
    @Kate B standing in class is not the option at this point – but I may very well have to try that.
    @Granny RN I agree with you 110%.

  7. Argy Student

    I would always set up my desk with at least four different-colored highlighters, pens, and a pencil; a snack and a drink. I would proceed to eat the snack slowly, sip the drink (usually coffee) slowly (caffeine + hot drink + small sips = stay awake), highlight important things in different colors (yellow = general info, pink = nursing interventions, blue = medications/doctor-ordered treatments, red/orange = complications), and draw out pictures of pertinent material and graphs/tables.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      Now that’s the best piece of sound advice yet! Thanks.