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Medical Why do we sleep in a class?

  1. Oct 30, 2016 #1
    Many a time we all have faced it while sitting in a class. During lectures we have a strong urge to sleep (rather we make a strong effort not to fall asleep. Especially if you are seated in the front rows.)

    It is not just boredom. I feel it is only when we want to concentrate, we tend trio fall asleep. If the lecture is boring my mind wanders and I don't feel sleep!

    Is there any study conducted on this phenomenon?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2016 #2


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    If the lecture is boring and/or I am not prepared with the that day's material, I will tend to fall asleep. I wonder how much of our population exhibits which behaviour.
  4. Oct 30, 2016 #3

    Fervent Freyja

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    I'm not sure if this is very common. When I was younger, I had difficulties going to sleep at night, so would fall asleep before lunchtime. Now that I'm older, I'm not as comfortable in a classroom enough to fall asleep, no matter how sleepy I am. If there were less noise, dimmer lighting, and it wasn't so darn cold then I probably could fall asleep sometimes though. A few weeks ago it was so bad that I found a couch and set my alarm to wake me up an hour later for the next class!
  5. Oct 31, 2016 #4


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    Just a very informal one, conducted by people who watch videos by Sir Roger Penrose... :oldwink:

    This person made a rather snarky comment about one member of the audience...
    The member, fifth from the left, in the first row, does appear to be... uninvolved ... lol

    I, however, like Penrose[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR]:oldcool:[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR]and enjoyed the video, although the presentation did seem a bit "awkward"...[COLOR=#black].[/COLOR] :oldgrumpy:

    Here's the complete video ... and it's right at two hours long.

    Here's the old fellow at 53 minutes and 15 seconds from Steve, on YouTube...

    Penrose Aeons (1).jpg

    Kinda hard to blame him for the nap though... after all, the lecture was by Penrose ... :olduhh: [COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR] lol
  6. Oct 31, 2016 #5


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    Check the "air handlers" for the room; they're engineered to keep you alert, and the tree huggers reverse engineer them to anesthetize you.
  7. Nov 4, 2016 #6


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    I used to struggle to keep from falling asleep during some evening lectures. Eventually I attributed it to the bright lighting fatiguing my eyes. The ceiling lights were long fluro tubes and the room furniture was white-topped benches: sitting midroom I was assailed by an ocean of white glare. (In contrast, I found that classes in a room with a higher ceiling and brown desk tops didn't pose the same sleep-inducing problem.)

    Once your eyes start to close for whatever reason you are partway towards the Land of Nod.
  8. Nov 4, 2016 #7


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    There seems to be a dearth of physiological research into boredom. This paper has a good overview of the topic:

    On the Function of Boredom
    Shane W Bench and Heather C Lench
    Behav. Sci. (2013)

    The physiology section is particularly interesting as there are contradictory reports on whether or not boredom leads to low arousal states (i.e. lethargy) or high arousal states. They make the argument that boredom is commonly misunderstood and that it is actually a high arousal state. When bored people become restless and frustrated, seeking to change their environment. Apathy however does lead to lethargy and low arousal states.

    Speculating based on this paper the reason why people tend to feel tired during lectures are a combination of:

    A) Uninteresting material
    B) Uninteresting lecturer
    C) Sedentary environment

    and as a bonus...

    D) Otherwise sleep-deprived lifestyle.
  9. Nov 8, 2016 #8


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    I think it's actually pretty normal. We don't naturally have the attention span to sit still for one hour and listen to a single person talk about a single subject, but our society (well, at least our subculture) has made something of a moral obligation out of attending school, so we do it anyway.
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