Getting a good night’s sleep means you have energy. You can concentrate. You remember things. You are fully engaged in whatever activities you are performing.
With increased concentration you are less likely to make the mistakes or bad decisions that lead to poor technique, potential injury or damage. A good night’s sleep can also help decrease your stress and pain.
A healthy adult needs an average of eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep while teenagers need a whooping 9.5 hours.
Not only does getting this amount of sleep have you waking up refreshed, it is necessary for:
• Muscle repair and healing
• Memory consolidation
• Release of hormones such growth hormone that control appetite, growth and regeneration
If your sleep suffers night after night you start to lose these benefits of sleep. This is a problem when your performances or rehearsals leave you buzzing and unable to sleep or those deadlines mean you work or study into the small hours of the morning.
And let’s not forget the stress you feel because of that important presentation/performance/exam/interview/audition that keeps you staring at the ceiling for hours on end. So many factors decrease the amount and quality of your sleep and we often wonder what it is we can do to help improve or increase our sleep.
To improve your sleep hygiene:
o Massage by a qualified practitioner can help improve sleep and decrease fatigue.
• Create a sleep schedule
o Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
• Avoid caffeine, nicotine, heavy meals and alcohol
o While alcohol can knock you out, it does not produce good quality sleep. Avoid eating a heavy meal 2 to 3 hours before bedtime – a light snack may be suitable after those light night performances and rehearsals.
• Exercise throughout the day but not straight before bed
o However, gentle stretches and yoga are fine – go right ahead.
• Create a bedtime routine
o An hour before bedtime, begin to unwind – dim the lights, drink chamomile tea, read a book, meditate. This is a great time to practice some deep breathing or progressive relaxation techniques.
• No electronics
o None. Not before you go to bed, not in the room while you sleep and not to be used in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep!!
• Don’t watch your clock
o Really. Looking at the clock often increases your stress and inability to get to sleep. Thoughts of “Oh no, I only have two hours until I have to get up and go to my exam / audition /interview / work / meeting” are not helpful.
• Get your room and bed right
o Room is not too hot, cold, light or noisy. Earplugs and sleep masks can be helpful. Make sure your mattress and pillow is comfortable. Find the best sleeping position.
• Close your eyes and sleep when you are sleepy
o If you feel tired – don’t try to the end of the chapter, finish a level in Candy Crush. Listen to your body.