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We have all heard that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. If you are wondering how sleep affects your singing voice, you have to consider other factors. The reality is that your voice will be affected not only by the amount of sleep you get, but also by the quality of it.
To be honest, pretty much everything has an effect on your voice! Sleeping is just one of them. The question of how much sleep we need is still current and in debate, although most experts agree that 7 to 9 is the magic number.
However, that magic number is different for every person. If you are a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), you will usually find that you need more sleep than other people you know. This is because HSP tends to process everything more deeply, and they need more sleep to help process this information. Also, HSP are prone to higher levels of stress and if you don’t do other things to help you with that, you will need more sleep to recover.
Also, the amount of exercise you do and even the food you eat will have an effect on how much sleep you need. Remember that we use sleeping as the natural way of recovering our energy. Therefore what you do during the day will have a profound effect on the quality and quantity of sleep you need.
In times when we have lots of things to do, it is tempting to skip a couple of hours of sleep to get things done. However, doing that will make you tired, and that will affect your productivity on many levels: not only will you be working with a brain and body that are not at their maximum capacity, but also your emotions will be strongly affected… remember that your emotions are what drive your actions! So actually sleeping enough can save you time! And you will be happier in the process 🙂
As I mentioned before, sleeping is the natural way in which we recover our energy – especially our physical energy. Your vocal system is formed by various muscles around and in your larynx area. You might have noticed that your voice is quite weak and croaky after a night of sleep deprivation! When our voice is in this state our technique will be weaker. And our whole body will have to work differently in order to produce sound, resulting in a more forced voice. If you do this consistently, you will over time damage your voice long term.
When talking about how sleep affects your singing voice, it is important to talk about another factor that many singers prefer to ignore, but that can have a profound effect not only on your voice but also on your general health.
I am talking about acid reflux! This is generally the topic that makes singers go “well is it life worth living with all these rules”? The answer is yes. Nobody said it was easy! But as a singer your whole body and mind complex are your instrument and you have to take care of it.
Acid reflux happens when stomach acids come back to your esophagus. This can have serious consequences for your overall health, however here I will only talk about the vocal effects.
If you have acidic reflux you will find yourself with a croaky and hoarse voice, which will not be optimal for singing, making you force your technique and further damaging your vocal system.
One major cause of acid reflux is taking your last meal close to your bedtime. It is recommended that you have a gap of at least three hours between your last meal and your bedtime (or lying flat).
It is recommended that you utilize a bed riser or a pillow for acid reflux to have a better sleeping position that will keep your vocal cords safe.
What you eat, especially before bedtime, has an effect on acid reflux. It is generally recommended to avoid spicy foods, fatty foods, citrics, caffeine and alcohol to avoid acid reflux.
I know that it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but remember that if you are persistent in building a new habit, soon enough you will not miss those things at all. And you will feel the effects on your voice very soon!
Another thing that is recommended to avoid acid reflux for singers, is that you sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your right side or flat has been found to encourage acid reflux.
Did you know that we can be in control of our thoughts? At least, some of them.
It is a good idea to practice positive thoughts before you go to bed to have a more positive emotional state the next day. Some visualisation exercises or gratitude for the things that went well during your day can make a difference.
If you have trouble having a restful sleep, there are some tools out there that can help you improve:
Auckland Singing School is located on the North Shore – Auckland (Glenfield and Unsworth Heights area)
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