Rise and Shine: Why 8am Classes Might Not Be As Bad As You Think

Jan 23, 2014 | Updated Mar 25, 2014
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College students usually aren't morning people, so when we hear the words "8am classes," we automatically groan in protest. Who wants to get up that early and function? I've had an 8am class pretty much every quarter at UC Santa Cruz, and have come to realize that there are actually some benefits to having those awfully early classes.

I know you're probably rolling your eyes right now, but I promise you I'm not the only person who sees the good side of 8am's. Here are some positive outlooks to make yourself feel better if you get stuck with a morning class, and some tips and tricks on how to get up and stay awake.

Why 8am's don't totally suck

If I could sleep in naturally, I wouldn't get out of bed until about noon. The thing about sleeping in is, yes, in the moment it feels good, but you usually end up feeling tired during the day regardless of when you had to get up.

According to Health Ambition, waking up early directly correlates to better grades, and who doesn't want that? The article also highlights that waking up early helps you maintain a healthier diet, enhances your productivity, gives you better mental health, gives you more time to exercise (haha), improves your quality of sleep, and helps you enjoy quiet time. I bet you are switching your schedule around right now so you can get that 8am and bask in the benefits.

Calvin Sainz, a third year neuroscience major at UC Santa Cruz, gave me his opinion on what he likes about 8am's.

"A good thing I see about 8am's," Sainz said, "is that, well, you get a nice early start to the day, [enabling you] to make more out of your day instead of waking up at noon and realizing a nice chunk of it is gone."

I definitely feel this way too. Sure, sleeping in is awesome, but getting a nice early start allows you to use your day to its full potential. Sainz went on to say that, "Another great thing is that you get the class over with sooner."

I've had both morning classes and really late classes, and would definitely rather have the morning classes. You just feel like you have more free time, since you can get the class over and done with. Also, walking around campus at night can be really creepy...

Holli Tomlinson, a second year merchandise marketing student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, says the benefit she sees in 8am's is that, "You feel more motivated to go home and start your homework, rather than having a late class and just wanting to go home and sleep."

I've noticed that as the day progresses, my ability to focus on school slowly deteriorates, until I get to the point where I am staring aimlessly at the reading that's due the next day. Getting out of class early gives you enough time to get your work done, and have some extra time to relax (hello Netflix).

Razma Mogharrab, a second year electrical engineering student at De Anza Community College, shows another upside to having 8am's.

"8am classes are a good thing because they prepare you for an average work day in the real world (which generally begins at 8am or earlier)," Mogharrab said. "They are also not that bad because the earlier you finish your classes, the earlier you can hang out with your friends or go back to sleep!"

See, I told you looking for positive things wouldn't be so hard! I always take a nap after an early class, and sometimes get a better sleep than I do at night.

Luke Siller, a second year biotechnology student at Palomar College, highlights the fact that when you have an 8am class you can basically choose your professor.

"When signing up for classes, things can get as hectic as Black Friday," Siller said. "You may not get all your teachers during the day, but in my experience there has always been room in morning classes."

8am classes are definitely the last to go, so you know you will pretty much be guaranteed a spot.

How to wake up and stay awake for an 8am

When you hear that dreaded alarm go off at 6:30am, you're going to want to hit snooze. Sainz recommends to try not to snooze your alarm.

"Once it goes off, stretch and try to get on your feet. The reason is because if you keep snoozing you're just making yourself more and more drowsy, as you're telling your body to sleep more only to have it disturbed in what may be a bad part of an early sleep cycle, which is turn will make you feel worse than you originally did."

I know it's hard. I'm always tempted, and usually give in to hitting the button once, but I definitely end up feeling more tired the longer I "half sleep," waiting for the alarm to make its second appearance.

You also want to make sure that you get a good night's sleep the night before. I know you want to stay up late watching Netflix, but "future you" will hate you in the morning for it. If you get in a constant routine of going to bed early, it will slowly start to get easier to wake up. As young adults, it is really important that we get enough sleep, which I know is tough in a college setting, but try your best to get a good amount of shuteye.

Loren Colcol, a second year computer science and game design student at UC Santa Cruz, gave some tips of how he stays awake and alert when he has to be up early.

"To stay awake early in the morning, I listen to some upbeat rap and hip-hop," Colcol said. "Eating fruits early in the morning helps me a lot."

So get that beat pumping while taking a bite out of an apple, and get ready to stay awake! Speaking of foods that can help you get up, here is a list from Huffpost Living that will give you that extra energy you need in the morning.

Tomlinson takes the coffee approach to staying awake.

"My Keurig is my life; I just brew some coffee on that baby and I'm good to go," Tomlinson said.

Sainz is on the coffee train too, and said "coffee is always a basic and common way to wake one up."

I do a mixture of the fruit and coffee approach, dropping blueberries in my cereal as I take constant swigs off warm, delicious coffee. Now you may be thinking, "Well, isn't coffee bad for you?" According to U.S. News, drinking coffee has heath benefits, and may even make you live longer. So if you drink it in moderation for your class, you're golden.

Yes, 8am's still aren't going to be the most fun things in the world, but you'll be improving your health, using more of your day in a productive manner, and have a legit excuse for taking naps in the middle of the day. So get out there, and start your day early!