Student sitting in front of a blank wall smiling while holding a warm beverage
August 29, 2023
3 mins read

How to wake up for an 8:00 am class and not feel like a zombie

Navigating Online Learning

Despite your best efforts, it happened. You’re enrolled in the dreaded 8:00 am class.

8:00 am lectures can be notorious for low student engagement, not to mention a quick and noticeable decline in attendance as the term progresses. This isn’t surprising, since most high schools don’t even start that early, and most students aren’t exactly morning people.

Unfortunately, basically every student is going to have to deal with this time slot at some point in their degree. So how are you going to get through that semester of early mornings?

Here are some tips:

The night before

This might seem obvious, but it needs to be said: the only real way to make it easier to wake up in the morning is to get more sleep.

The night before your early class, set aside a good amount of time before your intended bedtime to start winding down. Focus on quiet, calming activities—like reading a book or listening to soothing music.

Also, set things up to make your morning as easy as possible, such as laying out your clothes and prepping your breakfast ahead of time. That way, even if you fail to get a good night's sleep, you'll still be able to roll out of bed and out the door with very little effort.

Illustration of an apple, a bowl, and some books

Something to look forward to

One way to make yourself want to get up in the morning is to actually make your morning routine enjoyable. Whether it’s a fun playlist, a quick stretching routine, or the smell of sizzling pancakes, find something you can work into your morning routine that will make you excited to get out of bed.

Make a deal with yourself: if you get out of bed in time for class, you can grab a coffee from your favourite place down the street. Figure out what would make mornings fun (or at least tolerable) for you!

Beverage control

If you’re anything like me, your first stop after your alarm goes off is the coffeemaker. That’s not great for a couple of reasons.

First of all, after a solid 8 hours of slumber, you’re almost definitely dehydrated. That can make you feel lethargic. I like to put my water bottle on my nightstand before bed so I can chug some H2O before I even stand up. It really does do wonders.

Second, drinking coffee right away is actually counterproductive in the long run. When you wake up, your body starts producing cortisol, a hormone that makes you feel alert. Consuming caffeine at this time will make you feel more tired later, and eventually inhibit the total amount of cortisol your body makes. That means you’ll get less of a buzz.

The best time to drink your coffee would actually be after your class, between 9:00 and noon. That’s when your cortisol levels are lowest, so you’ll get a better energy boost to make it through the rest of your day!

Illustration of cortisol and coffee

Stay on schedule

Waking up early sucks because you’re not used to it. If you’re waking up for an 8:00 am class on Tuesday and Thursday and sleeping until noon every other day of the week, is it any wonder that you hate it?

Commit to waking up earlier every day, not just the ones with the early class. You don’t necessarily have to start waking with the sun, but closing the gap even a little will make things easier.

Grab a friend

If all else fails, get a friend to help you. Obviously it’s best if the person’s actually in your class (that way you can really hold each other accountable for attendance), but you can also recruit your Token Morning Person friend to text you at a certain time.

If you have friends who live further east, they can help, too. (I used to get my best friend who lived in Montréal to call me before early morning exams, since she was already eating her lunch when I was dragging myself to school.)

When it comes down to it, you’ll have to find a way to make it work. Learning to wake up early (especially if it’s not your favourite class ever) can be difficult, but you might end up surprising yourself!

Best of luck, early risers!

Illustration of a ringing 6:30 alarm