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The only thing worse than waking up and having to go to school is waking up and being in school.
High school and college students in fiction have pretty challenging lives, which can at times wreak havoc on their sleeping schedule. Whether they were up all night angsting about how to approach their first crush, spending all their free time in grueling training to fight the Big Bad
, or simply having one too many panicked cram sessions the night before the exam, these characters will be forced to go to class the next day with little or no sleep. This often leads to them unintentionally catching up on their rest in the middle of class.
This is a common staple of school-related comedies, with the event often leading to the public embarrassment of the character in question. Offending students, if caught, will surely draw the ire of their teacher, which usually leads to the student being awakened by a stern chewing out or by having class supplies thrown at them. Sometimes the sleeper will become a victim of Face Doodling
at the hands of their classmates. Alternatively, they may give away the fact that they were asleep with a Waking Non Sequitur
In more serious stories this might be an indicator that the student is having trouble at home, whether due to abuse, being forced to take a job to help support the family, or some other reason. While it is less likely to be Played for Laughs
in these kinds of stories, it can sometimes be used for comic relief.
A common consequence of being a teenage Triple Shifter
. Characters who repeatedly
fall Asleep In Class (and other places) are Sleepy Heads
. Not to be confused with Sleep Learning
, which is the practice of trying to absorb knowledge while asleep or hypnotized. Naturally, teenagers can often feel the need for sleep enough to doze off in a class that may seem boring and meaningless, so this trope is Truth in Television
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- One time (or maybe more) Jughead painted eyeballs on his eyelids so he could sleep in class and look like he wasn't sleeping.
- A National Lampoon comic strip had a kid asleep in class, dreaming about getting shot down over WWII Germany - as Hitler approaches him with a knife, the teacher angrily calls his name - he wakes up shouting "Please don't cut my dick off, Mister Hitler!"
- Spider-Man has been known to do this, particularly in the Ultimate universe. However he also approached this form the other side on one occasion when he worked as a science teacher. Fortunately for the student, he was a Reasonable Authority Figure and, rather than chewing her out, took the time to find out if she was having any trouble at home (turns out she was).
- Sharie in Wayside School is always asleep in class. Mrs. Jewls doesn't mind—she believes Sharie learns better that way.
- The Animorphs have this happen to them on occasion. Marco seems to make a habit of it.
- Their resident alien Ax also had a habit of it, back in the Andalite version of cadet school. Whenever the plot requires him to not know something specific about the alien Phlebotinum of the day (such as the mechanics of sario rips, or the finer points of ship repair), he was asleep that day, or was daydreaming, or there was a girl, or a sporting event... well, you get the picture.
- In the Harry Potter series, Professor Binns is known for being so boring that his lectures consistently put the entire class to sleep, apart from Hermione. He doesn't seem to notice, either because he's a ghost or just because he's a Cloudcuckoolander.
- In the Canadian kids-mystery-show The Adventures Of Shirley Holmes, Shirley's best friend Bo falls asleep in class because he secretly works to help his indebted parents.
- In the Law & Order episode, "Indifference," a little girl appears to be sleeping after class is dismissed, but the teacher discovers to her horror that the girl is actually unconscious, and dying from terrible child abuse wounds.
- Boy Meets World had several humorous situations involving Cory and/or Shawn falling asleep in class. A particularly funny example involved Shawn waking up thinking he's still at home and while half-awake stumbling out of the classroom to "go to school". A few minutes later he walks back in utterly confused, saying "I don't know where I am".
- Veronica Mars The school councilor talks to her Dad about problems Veronica is having after her best friend is murdered, and her father disgraced. One symptom is sleeping in class. In another episode, she is woken by a teacher, answers the question, stretches, and lays her head back on the desk. Meg and Veronica talk about Hemingway induced narcolepsy, and the monotone of the teacher putting you to sleep.
- Peppermint Patty from Peanuts is always falling asleep in class. Marcie, who sits behind her, will either try to wake her up or play tricks on her while Peppermint Patty is asleep.
- Marcie herself has fallen asleep in class on a few occasions. In one instance, she had to get up early to be at her school patrol post on time, but fell asleep at her classroom desk.
- Shultz was once given an award from a catalepsy foundation for raising awareness of the disease.
- Happens to Paige in FoxTrot, using ping-pong balls cut in half to fake having her eyes open.
- Big Nate, often.
- Lloyd Irving does this in Tales of Symphonia, notable in that he falls asleep, standing up, while also holding a bucket full of water in each hand. He's woken up when Raine (his teacher) throws an eraser into his face.
- You're given the option to do this in Persona 3. Doing so will improve your mood, thereby letting you fight better in the Dark Hour, but in exchange you miss out on the potential intelligence boost.
- Escape From St Marys: The game opens with such a scene.
- In Adventures of Tom Sawyer, you do this in the opening.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao falls asleep in class in one scene in Rin's route, which begins with him being woken up by Mutou.
- Terry McGinnis, Bruce Wayne's successor in Batman Beyond, is shown to fall asleep in class due to the pressures of balancing his normal life with the responsibilities of being the Batman.
- In an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Diamond Tiara brings in her father, Filthy Rich, for her class's weekly Family Appreciation Day, and his boring presentation on how he cornered the sundries market in Ponyville puts nearly all the young ponies to sleep.
- Gretchen in the Recess episode "This Brain for Hire" after staying up until early in the morning working on everyone's homework.
- T.J. in "Good 'Ol T.J." when he stays up all night and all morning to revise a project him and Gretchen had to do (and failed due to his laziness) just to give her a better grade.
- In the Mike, Lu & Og episode "A Learning Experience", Mike gets the other islanders to act as school teachers for her, Lu, Og and the Cuzzlewitz kids. They all fall asleep during Margery's lesson.