Everyone who has endured Marine OCS knows that staying awake during class can be quite brutal. The schedule at OCS is no joke. There is always something going on and it can become very exhausting. Imagine trying to get through a schedule such as this:
2100: Night Land Navigation
0000: Get to sleep in the field
0045: Wake up to prepare for watch
0100: Start standing watch
0200: Back to sleep
0330: Wake up to start preparing for the hike
0400: Prepare for formation
0415: Start 4-6 mile hike (while trying not to hallucinate in the pitch black darkness and twist your ankle)
0900: 1 HOUR CLASS ON “LEAVE AND EARNINGS STATEMENTS” (BRUTAL!!!)
The schedule above is sort of made up on my part, but it is in way far from the reality that ensues Marine OCS. Until you have experienced sitting in class after enduring all of the above you will not completely understand what I am saying. Here I want to throw out a few tips you might be able to utilize to stay awake during class. Believe me when I say that falling asleep in class is not something you want to make a habit of.
1. Stand Up (Obvious, I know)
The standard tactic that you are encouraged to use at OCS when drifting into a nice slumber is standing up. This is a very common method that you will be told to use. If you fall asleep all hell will break loose and standing up during class is going to become mandatory for you. Candidates should always look out for each other. If you see someone falling asleep nudge them and tell them to go stand up. Billet holders especially need to constantly watch other candidates.
2. Hold Water In Your Mouth
I learned this one during my time at OCS. The first method should always be used when the feeling of sleep is overcoming you. However, if you think you can stay awake, but aren’t completely sure then this method may be suitable. Essentially, the idea is to put water in your mouth and hold it. If you nod off the water will spill all over you, thus waking you up. I tried this a few times and thought it was useful, but you seriously shouldn’t let water spill all over you. The embarrassment of such a thing happening should be enough to keep you awake.
3. Little Sip, Little Sip, Little Sip
It may not seem like it at the time, but water does help you stay awake … a little. Honestly, since candidates are constantly drinking water the liquid itself may not help all that much. However, the action of drinking water will help keep your mind occupied. Every 30 seconds to a minute take a small sip. I would actually recommend taking very small sips, and maybe even just enough to add moisture to your mouth. I say this simply because you don’t want to have to make a head call every 5 minutes. By the end of week two you probably have to go like every 15 minutes already. Aggravating the issue while in class may not be the best decision. You will become familiar with your body and be able to decide for yourself.
Making it through the classes can sometime be much harder than the fitness events. The room is comfortable and the lights even go out for videos occasionally. Remember that it does not look good on you or your platoon if you fall asleep. It is tough, but you want to be a Marine right? How can you expect the attention of the Marines you will lead in the future if you can’t even give it yourself.