Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: Why do we fall asleep during lectures? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread. Thank you to the team at Quora for making this happen!
John Medina, in his book Brain Rules, introduces data that forms the following graph:
The data shows that student attention level takes a dive, approximately 10 minutes into a lesson. This is a natural occurrence (and I believe the reason YouTube videos were initially limited to less than 9 minutes), but can be dealt with by a good instructor. The problem is most instructors (particularly at the university level) know next to nothing about the learning process and instructional theory. A good instructor will introduce variation into a lesson every 10 minutes to regain the students’ attention (as depicted in the below graph).
This variation can be accomplished in many ways – from inserting a student activity to asking questions or otherwise soliciting involvement from the students to changing the delivery style or mechanism.
The problem is that so many instructors see instructing as a one-way communication. If a student is not contributing to the communication, they lose focus and many literally go to sleep.
There are other triggers for sleeping during lessons, such as eating a large meal immediately before the lesson, poor ventilation in the classroom, and tired students.