Help me stop falling asleep
July 6, 2006 2:51 AM   Subscribe

I have a question about why I am falling asleep during my training course.

I am training this week, and even though I have been getting a decent amount of sleep, I find that I have been crashing in the morning and afternoon, almost nodding off.

This appears to be after I have had breakfast or lunch. What can I do to combat this? Is there something wrong with me?
posted by viama to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What are you eating for breakfast and lunch?
posted by necessitas at 3:00 AM on July 6, 2006

Having seen a student on a training course (taught by a colleague) lapse into a coma..... you might want to get your doctor to give you a diabetes test.
posted by funboytree at 3:00 AM on July 6, 2006

Response by poster: Yesterday I had a banana for breakfast and a sandwich with salad for lunch. Nothing too heavy.
posted by viama at 3:39 AM on July 6, 2006

(serious question) Is the content incredibly boring, or alternatively does the instructor present in a monotone or otherwise boring delivery method?

Other possiblities, the room the instruction is given in is too warm or not ventilated correctly which could induce drowsiness. Does the course include break-out sessions, activities or breaks?

I present training for my company and students dozing off in class is a sign of a bad training session (I've had students doze off in class, so I speak from experience!). I am guessing you either have no real interest in the subject or it is irrelevant to your needs and maybe you do not really want to be there.

Frequent changes in direction (interactive Q and A sessions, activities, involving the students in the training process) will help to keep peoples interest up and hopefully stop attendees from being too bored.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 3:51 AM on July 6, 2006

The "after lunch snooze" phenomenon is a common problem amongst anyone organising (or attending) training courses. When you have satisfied your hunger and are digesting your food, when the heat of the afternoon is upon you, the body wants to doze. Like a lion would. In civilised countries the problem is approached by letting people have a siesta. My tactics would be:

1. Try to avoid eating anything two sweet at lunch - including orange juice or soft drinks. When your blood sugar levels fall off a couple of hours later you can get sleepy.
2. Drink coffee.
3. Sit at the front of the class, take notes and ask questions.
4. Look at the training material. If it is dull, delivered in a non-interactive way and demands long periods of attention consider approaching the trainer to suggest some improvements. If this would not work try another training course.
5. If you are tired ask the trainer if you can all have a 5 minute break. No doubt your classmates would appreciate this too.
posted by rongorongo at 3:54 AM on July 6, 2006

Some people notice this about 20-30 minutes after ingesting a large amount of carbs and/or starch, like white bread?
posted by Wilder at 4:16 AM on July 6, 2006

Does it happen a lot, or have you only noticed it with this particular training? If it happens in your regular life, it could either be a sign of narcolepsy or sleep apnea.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:43 AM on July 6, 2006

Response by poster: hmm, I tend to notice it more when I am training, but I did wonder about it being a symptom of sleep apnea.

I've recognized other symptoms when apnea has been discussed in other askme questions, so I should probably stop putting off that visit to the doctor.
posted by viama at 5:02 AM on July 6, 2006

I also have this problem in training classes. One of the things that seems to cause it for me is the lighting situation. Very often these things are done in slightly darkened rooms, with overhead projectors. The dark/light contrast is, I find, quite tiring to look at. The general darkness of the room makes me sleepy. Those two things together make it damned near impossible for me to stay awake through an entire all day training session.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:55 AM on July 6, 2006

(1) Artificial lighting, (2) whirring of projection equipment, (3) hideous boredom, and (4) badly regulated room temperature. Gah, I feel your pain.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:25 AM on July 6, 2006

I hate to "me-too" the sleep apnea thing, but I have to. I was regularly almost falling asleep in boring (or even not-so-boring) meetings, doing the whole head-jerk-no-I-was-really-awake thing. Had a sleep study, got a CPAP, and now I am much more awake during the day, even in the worst of boring meetings. (Now I have to ditch them to avoid being driven out of my skull.)

(My last follow-up at the sleep center was with a new doctor. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but when he looked at my chart, he did a double-take and looked at me and said "Well, you really had an apnea, didn't you?")
posted by atholbrose at 6:54 AM on July 6, 2006

I have what appears to be a meeting-related sleep disorder that is far more powerful than protein breakfasts and massive amounts of coffee, good nights of sleep, or uncomfortable seating. I have noticed that it will not happen if the meeting or training is highly interactive, or if there is a moderately engaging video, but as soon as someone starts lecturing or showing powerpoint slides I get the nods something fierce. It takes physical pain to keep me awake, but it only works for a few seconds.

The syndrome is nearly unique to meetings and lectures. The only other situation that is remotely similar is when I am driving too tired and suffering from road hypnosis. I'm a little tired all the time, as I never sleep very well, but it doesn't happen in movies or watching TV or reading or sitting in waiting rooms. I'm a little worried about going back to school, it's so severely situational.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:22 AM on July 6, 2006

I find that a lot of training sessions, or yes, even my college classes, had this same effect on me. We all had laptops in my college program, so I would often idly play a simple game to distract my mind from getting distracted. This probably only works because of my slight ADHD tendencies (self diagnosis only).

Since you can't always be playing a game or something, I also used a combination of pinching my leg under the table, forcing myself to breathe slightly deeper than usual to get adequate oxygen and copious amounts of coffee.
posted by utsutsu at 7:29 AM on July 6, 2006

Another suggestion of sleep apnoea. It may not be the case, maybe it's specific to the training (e.g. I have a weekly meeting that is in a cold dark presentation room that is guaranteed to make me drowsy). However if it is sleep apnoea, get it diagnosed and managed before it gets to the point where you're nodding off in the car.
posted by teem at 7:34 AM on July 6, 2006

Pay attention to what drugs you might be taking OTC and scripts. I had the same problem and traced it to some allergy drugs I was taking that was not supposed to cause drowsiness but were for me.
posted by Justin Case at 7:57 AM on July 6, 2006

I don't mean to derail this into a sleep-apnea thread, but that's something which has been in the back of my mind for a little while. Supposing that I wanted to get myself checked for that, how would one go about finding a reputable sleep center? (I'm in Dallas TX if that helps.)
posted by Handcoding at 8:19 AM on July 6, 2006

I've had the same problem with meetings and classes in which I'm not fully engaged. I'll try and try to concentrate on what's going on, but I'll find my eyes refusing to even focus. I've tried the active note-taking strategy, and later find that my notes gradually devolve into illegible scribbles before trailing off the page. It's like my brain realizes I can't jump up and run away from the boredom assault, and finding a distracting activity is not an option, so it retreats by shutting down. I'm told it could be a symptom of ADD.
posted by Tubes at 8:21 AM on July 6, 2006

I run week long residential training courses, and the after lunch lull is very familiar, and only gets worse as the course goes on. I don't see the after breakfast lull so much, which makes me think diet must be something to do with it. Try to eat lots of fresh food, less starch, less fried stuff (are you having a full English every morning? Switch to the museli now!)

If your trainers are good, they should be allowing for the after lunch effect in their programme, with more active tasks and using lots of different methods (powerpoint in a dark and hot room not good) but maybe they're not. Some of the things I do straight after lunch are to run a short game that gets everyone up and moving, often it'll be something team building-ish (cheesey I know, I know but it works for my usual audience); the session will be interactive with little presentation; and I'll more than likely change the location or go outside (sometimes even if it's raining).

If nothing else ask if you can have the after lunch session somewhere else or outside.

And failing that go for a walk at lunchtime and after breakfast. Do not underestimate the value of fresh air and a bit of exercise.

Are you sitting in the same place all the time? Move round the room and sit in a different seat. Try a different way of keeping notes (mind map rather than straight down the page for instance). Keep your brain on its toes.

And eat lots of fresh food and drink lots of water, don't be tempted by the tea and biscuits in the breaks.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:21 PM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

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