10 Tips To Help You Stay Awake During Long Seminars

We’ve all been there. You know, that terrible dilemma of feeling sleepy while attending a seminar. Staying attentive can be a real challenge if your eyelids are heavy. What’s more, you don’t want to appear to be rude, especially since the speaker can most likely see you from the podium.

What can you do to fight the drowsiness off, you ask? There are actually several proven ideas you can try. So the next time you get asked by your boss to attend a seminar, meeting, or workshop that runs for 2 to 3 hours, keep these handy tips in mind to stay awake… 

1. Take the front row seat

stay awake

Being in close proximity to the speaker helps you to become more engaged in the seminar. Staying alert will be so much easier from this spot compared with staying in the back rows. You’ll feel extra motivated to keep your eyes open in order to avoid embarrassing yourself.

2. Drink water

A lack of water leads to electrolyte imbalance, which can cause tiredness and fatigue. Drinking water not only gets you hydrated and feeling more refreshed – you also get to focus better. Drink a glass before the seminar, then bring along some bottled water and take sips whenever you’re struggling to pay attention.

As nutritionist and bestselling author Rania Batayneh told Business Insider:

“One of the biggest indicators of lethargy or low energy is that you are dehydrated. Because water aids in both body regulation and brain function, it is also closely related to balancing out our moods.”

Although increasing water intake will make you need to visit the bathroom more frequently, the necessary walk will also help you stay awake.

3. Wash your face

stay awake

While you’re there in the bathroom, take time to splash your face with cold water. This is also an effective trick for reducing drowsiness and temporarily boosting your energy.

4. Eat a snack

If eating is allowed in the seminar, bring some light snacks to munch on while listening to the speaker. Sleep.org recommends foods that are rich with omega-3 fatty acids or protein because they can help you be productive and “beat the afternoon slump.” Did you know that an apple is more likely to boost your energy than a cup of coffee?

5. Move and try to do simple exercises

Change your position from time to time. Sit on the edge of your chair. Do simple, non-distracting exercises like stretching your legs or (briefly!) moving your head from side to side. If you can take a break, go for a short walk. Doing these things can promote blood circulation, renew your energy, and help you stay awake.

6. Chew a gum

stay awake

In 2013, A British Journal of Psychology study said that the simple act of chewing a gum can lead to longer concentration. Study author Kate Morgan shared their observations, pointing out that “participants who didn't chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end.”

“This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time,” Morgan also added.

7. Participate and take notes

Another sure way to fight off sleepiness is to be engaged. Instead of simply listening, actively participating allows you to stay awake.

Judi James, who is an expert in body language, social behavior, and workplace culture, pointed out: “Speak up during the first three minutes. It gets your voice into the room and allows you to feel like a contributor, not a listener.”

Other than participation, taking notes can likewise help you pay attention better while learning more at the same time. You can jot down important matters discussed, along with statistics and quotes you may want to remember.

8. Smell a strong scent

Smelling sharp scents can be a good solution if you’re feeling lethargic. You can try inhaling essential oils such as bergamot, camphor, eucalyptus, lemon, orange, peppermint, and rosemary to give your body a much-needed energy boost.  

9. Doodle in your notebook

Some will probably argue that doodling may encourage you to zone out during a seminar but actually, experts will disagree with that notion.

Harvard published an article entitled “The ‘thinking’ benefits of doodling” where we learn this bit of wisdom:

“Paying continuous attention places a strain on the brain, and doodling may be just the break your brain needs to keep attending without losing total interest.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal tells us:

“Research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts and retain information.”

10. Get ample rest before the event

Lastly, you need to make sure that you get enough rest at night before the seminar. This is crucial in order for you to stay awake and alert during the event.  

University of Pennsylvania Sleep Fellowship program director Ilene Rosen, MD, summed it up this way:

“When you fall asleep in any situation you don’t want to, it’s a sure sign that you’re significantly sleep-deprived.”

So yes, in some cases, the problem may not be that the speaker is boring – you just probably lack sleep. That’s why getting plenty of rest is always recommended.

Final thoughts

We hope the pointers we’ve shared above will be helpful for you. The great inventor and scientist Alexander Graham Bell once said:

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

When you do your best to prepare, be attentive, and eliminate distractions, you will be better able to make the most of your seminar attendance. 

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