As a musician we have very odd hours, often we have to be active and focused late at night for concerts or travel and get up early in the morning for more travel or studying and rehearsals. But you should consider that the lack of sleep impacts your performance.
Not the best schedule to get the hours of sleep we need. In fact, we tell ourselves:
But as this can be very risky to our health and well-being, I wish to point out some facts here that I gathered for you:
Sleep deprivation and health risks
In general, we know that we should sleep at least six hours a night, or even 7 – 9 hours as the National Sleep Foundation recommends for adults. But sometimes we just don’t have the possibility to do so because of our late hours rehearsing or performing. So sometimes we spend weeks or months without the appropriate amount of sleep. Promulgated sleep loss correlated health issues will have to be considered as health risks with important effects.
Sleep loss and health risks are correlated directly and it is important to take it seriously. As listed in the above image, not only do we face irritability, moral judgment impairment, diabetes and obesity, we might catch a cold more frequently as our immune system does no longer work sufficiently well.
Lack of sleep
and lack of sleep impacts performance
– possible musical performance impairment-
Even more disturbing (to us musicians) is what lack of sleep does to our musical skills:
- cognitive impairment (might be nice to quit that little nagging voice in our head and we have all been there, at this point where we couldn’t judge our playing anymore, we didn’t have the energy to comment on ourselves while playing and our performance actually improved…well for a while)
- memory lapses or losses might me more frightening
- increased reaction time is definitely impeding a fulfilling performance, as is
- decreased accuracy!
- tremors might be very damaging while playing and could also result in
- aches, that will at a certain point keep us from playing at all.
8 health benefits that come with good sleep
Sleep and health benefits are indivisible. But what are those benefits exactly?
- Relaxation, our muscles are relaxed and their energy restored. Our breath goes deeper and further and helps our musical activity enormously.
- We are less prone to stress and don’t feel its effect so deeply. We can handle stage anxiety in a much more effective way.
- Well refreshed, we are friendlier, more patient, emotionally more intelligent and present and our relationships, private as in the musical business world will definitely be more stable and productive.
- Our immune system is able to fight of colds and so on and we will become sick less often.
- Our overall health will be better, as when you are restored after a good night’s sleep you are prone to be more active, which also helps you to sleep better and fight overweight. As well as other serious diseases linked to obesity.
- Our mind will be able to focus and connect, we will think more clearly and more accurately. Our decisions will be quicker and impact our performance positively, as our reaction time is lower.
- We will take better decisions also morally and will be less prone to accidents.
- Our well-being and our mood will be so much better and thus our motivation to do anything and do it well will be enhanced.
Sleep for brain health
When we sleep is actually the time
when we learn!
Why lack of sleep impacts performance
Sleep is not only to not impact our performance negatively but also actively improving it.
I urge you to understand that. You actually learn, when your brain is at rest from having to react to the outside world and relives the day. It builds strong bridges and adds feelings to it, it engraves neuronal pathways and activates them, it puts order into all the different input without the stress that it had to deal with in daytime, or awake-time. Not only does it stabilize new synapse-connections, it also continues to search for solutions where you only had a problem when you were awake.
Have you ever felt that you woke up and finally had the answer to a question that you had forgotten about? This feeling, that is why you need to sleep! Your brain feeds on the glucose and oxygen that is of nearly no use to the rest of the body and can do so as its needs command. It doesn’t have to react to anything out of its own function.
Lack of sleep could result in impairment of this fundamental process for brain functioning and performance. You might come up with an idea for your group, a fingering for a difficult passage, a phrasing idea that clarifies the whole piece, a decision on what to play in the next concert, a passage finally by heart, an idea for a transcription, arrangement, composition or jazz solo. You name it.
This can happen when you sleep enough. You will need to study fewer hours and what you learn will be memorized in a more time- and energy- efficient way.
Sleep for musicians – sleep enough when there is no time?
As said in the opening statement, we musicians simply don’t have the time to sleep for 8 hours.
So what can we do?
We should try to rest at anytime possible. We should include some hours here and there and close our eyes. On the train, in the waiting room, during rehearsals where you have 100 rest bars (no, just kidding)… Our brain needs times with no new intake and absolute reflection at its own pace and in its own way, without your awareness and consciousness controlling and limiting it.
From a practical example: You have slept for 4 hours at night and now you arrived where you had to be for rehearsal or performance and you have two hours before you start. Usually you would practice on and off for two hours and then rush into performance mode. I recommend to sleep for one our. Look for a bench, a room, a cabinet, any place you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes, shut out noises and light and just float off. Then study 45min and get mentally ready to perform or rehearse. You can also first study and then rest. But I suggest you cut it in half and get one hour rest.
I was also very interested in coffee consumption concerning musicians and the impact it might have on health and sleep. Luckily, for all coffee junkies like me, it is not too bad!
Have a good read here Coffee and Stress
and choose your coffee wisely! Here is an article about my favorite Italian Espresso
Lack of sleep impacts performance on all levels
Go and sleep anywhere and anytime you can! Don’t mind the position, not even the usual function of what you rest upon, just go and get some rest! Follow the advice of cats. Sleep anywhere anytime, and go and stretch out afterwards. Walk and do things elegantly with your head up high. Be curious about the world. Become fascinated, learn things, play and perform.
But the most important thing, eat and sleep!
Cheers to our furry little friends and masters!
Also check my article about creating a more satisfying lifestyle —–> life design for musicians.
Stay healty my flute friends and check out what to eat before you perform ——> food for flutists.
Happy flute life,