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AIBU to keep nodding off in work meetings?

25 replies

ohifonlyicould853 · 21/06/2017 19:00

It's so embarrassing - been in meetings two days' running and I am doing my darndest not to drop off! I have coffee, suck mints, sit near the exit so I can go to the loo etc but that awful heavy feeling steals upon me and I just could happily go to sleep.
I have a really important day coming up next week with back to back meetings and frankly if this goes on, I'm worried my colleagues will think I can't do my job! (However no-one has yet pulled me up on it - they're probably too polite to say it to my face).
My sleep is a little erratic which may be why, sitting still in a room with someone droning talking on, I start to impersonate a nodding dog. I've been to the doctor to get my health checked out and all is okay with blood tests etc.
Anyone out there experience the same thing - please tell me I'm not on my own! And - any tips on how to stay awake please?

OP posts:

YNK · 21/06/2017 19:03

Get blood tests for B12, folate, ferritin, fbc and full thyroid panel


VivienneWestwoodsKnickers · 21/06/2017 19:06

Could you feign a back injury / muscle strain and explain you'll stand and maybe move about a bit during the meeting?

I've had to do that for genuine back pain and it really didn't disrupt anything and I felt comfortable after the second time of slowly moving to stand against a wall.


Pengggwn · 21/06/2017 19:07

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Purplepotatoe · 21/06/2017 19:08

All meetings should have all chairs removed, I bet they'd be far more productive. That's a horrible feeling when you can't keep your eyes open, any chance they're just dull as fuck?


Crumbs1 · 21/06/2017 19:09

Have you had sleep studies done? Sleep apnoea is very common cause of daytime sleepiness.


Wolfiefan · 21/06/2017 19:09

Fidget toy? Grin
Take minutes?
Extremely cold drink?
Work on the sleep thing? What are you trying at the moment?


Asmoto · 21/06/2017 19:13

I second the advice of YNK to get this checked out medically. It does sound, though, as if the meetings you're attending are more like lectures if the only part you can play is to nod along, so it isn't surprising that you find yourself drifting. Would there be any way to make the meetings more interactive - do you have an opportunity to contribute? If not, could you feed back tactfully that you would like one? Getting involved in a meeting is the best way to stay interested in it and awake.


Pebbles1989 · 21/06/2017 19:42

I used to have this. Physically couldn't stay awake in meetings, no matter how well rested I was. It turned out that I have a rare sleep disorder, which can't be cured but can be treated very effectively. I had to push my GP to refer me to a sleep disorders clinic but it was worth it. I've got my life back.

What you're describing doesn't sound normal, OP, and you should push for answers.


Pebbles1989 · 21/06/2017 19:43

P.S. Blood tests won't show sleep disorders and most GPs' knowledge of them is poor.


ohifonlyicould853 · 22/06/2017 08:32

Morning All and thanks for your comments and insights. YNK - yes, blood tests all done and all appears to be fine!
Crumbs and Pebbles - I wonder if it may be narcolepsy? I've just looked at this and I can relate to the symptoms. Thanks for your pointers. I'm going to book a dr appt now. :)

OP posts:

pandarific · 22/06/2017 08:53

Diabetes can cause this feeling of sleepiness. Is it after you've eaten?


FanaticalFox · 22/06/2017 08:58

Its definitely the heat


WhatALoadOfOldBollocks · 22/06/2017 09:00

any chance they're just dull as fuck?
I suspect so. I used to struggle to stay awake in meetings because they were always held after lunch, in a dimly lit room and were very dull. It's a recipe for a nap. The only thing that would help were trying desperatly not to giggle at my silly, equally bored, colleagues and pinching myself in the leg.


DandelionFluff · 22/06/2017 09:07

@Pebbles can I ask, what were you diagnosed with in the end? I am having the same issue where I will fall asleep during the day multiple times per week. I have had a sleep study done and it's not sleep apnoea I know that. Had all the usual blood tests done too and they are all normal.

@ohifonly - sorry to piggyback onto your thread. Last time I was working in an office I found that Airwaves chewing gum seemed to help, possible the added menthol helped.


EBearhug · 22/06/2017 09:12

A colleague had this - he was suffering from sleep apnoea and ended up with a machine, and had much more energy afterwards. Now does much more exercise and has lost weight, partly because of increased energy through getting better sleep. Can't remember when he last fell asleep at his desk.

I agree that if it's not just a one-off, you should get it checked out.


AfunaMbatata · 22/06/2017 09:15

Could you record the meetings so you can play them back when you're more awake? Hopefully that will help you on the job front.


Nettletheelf · 22/06/2017 09:17

It's probably not a medical problem. I used to get this all the time...when I worked for an organisation that insisted on holding six-hour, poorly-controlled meetings at which people turned up to make desperately dull presentations.

It's because they are boring and the room is warm. Seriously, your brain just switches off. Put me into a warm, dimly lit room with a screen full of boring diagrams and bullet points and I'll nod off. Guaranteed. I've got nothing wrong with me.

Since I moved jobs, this never happens because the subject matter is more involving and meetings are strictly controlled and time limited.


Ethylred · 22/06/2017 09:25

Eating less lunch changed my life in this respect.


Lovestonap · 22/06/2017 09:29

I think the back pain idea is a good one, then you can also the excuse you are on painkillers to explain any dopeyness (sp?).

Like pps have just said it sounds like a recipe for a nap rather than anything more sinister - you don't find yourself nodding off whilst driving or anything?


Mouikey · 22/06/2017 09:31

One of my old managers used to do this, in meetings, 1:2:1's and important executive style meetings with the board. It was really difficult because it was disrespectful on one hand, but other stuff may have been going on (although I was told he had been doing it for years). He would think it a bit funny, but when in the board meetings it was anything but.

Had he have been younger I think it would have seriously damaged his career, I know the board were not impressed, which undermined the great work he would do.

Do persevere with your Dr and get those bloods checked out


BangkokBlues · 22/06/2017 09:32

I shout at myself in my head when you have boring, hot, after lunch presentations.

So like my 8 times table or something, but at max volume in my head.

Also going to toilet and washing face with cold water.

Also if you can stand up at any points (like PP say feign a back injury?).


Roomba · 22/06/2017 09:37

This happens to me all the time, so embarrassing. I'm anaemic and sleep deprived at the moment, but it has always happened in long meeting or training sessions even when I was young and mega fit. No sleep disorder here. One of my colleagues is similar so we have an agreement that we sit next to each other and nudge the other if their eyes start to close!

It's usually a combination of warm, quiet room and extremely unengaging meeting/training content with me. Don't know how others stay awake frankly. Especially in this heat.


AnnieOH1 · 22/06/2017 09:39

I second the menthol idea only I prefer to use Vicks or Olbas inhaler sticks. Deeply breathed in will alert you within seconds. Random fact - businesses in Japan often pump menthol through their A/C systems to keep people awake and alert.

Another thing I have used for years is Berocca (or store brand equivalent) along with having the boost type ones with guarana. There's one on the market at the moment that's just like a whole bunch of sherbet in a paper wrapper. You can discretely take it in one go without water. They seem to work well for me for that "laggy/tired" feeling.

I would address hydration too, especially if you've been going for the caffeine drinks rather than water. The heat causing tiredness and dehydration may have made your symptoms worse over the last few days. Try and make sure that you're having at least 2.7l of water a day (woman's RDA in US) or 3.7l if you're male.

I've also used an actimist type eye spray with success to stay awake too.

(About ten year's ago I worked in a place that had one particular partner who would drone in the most monotone I'm not going to take a break or pause for breath kind of way, it was dreadful. I ended up having to slip a rubber band onto my wrist and really ping it to get my concentration back!)


ohifonlyicould853 · 22/06/2017 13:02

Ooh loads of good advice here and thanks everyone. Annie - like the idea of pinging a rubber band on the wrist!
The underlying question, from WhataLoad .... is any chance they're just dull as fuck? I have to agree - yes! Too many of them, too much content, too many people liking the sound of their own voices! Too many advisory committees, steering groups, sounding boards, internal panels ...why do we do this to ourselves?!
I agree with Purplepotatoe - let's remove all chairs and trim meeting contents to the essentials (eg in my organisation everything has to be accompanied by a long preamble/explanation).

OP posts:

weebarra · 22/06/2017 13:07

This happens to me too. It's awful! I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes though.

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