While it’s important for everyone to get quality sleep, it is essential for athletes, which includes dancers, in achieving peak performance and physical recovery. Sleep is a critical element in overall conditioning to meet the physical and mental demands of a sport. When a dancer or athlete doesn’t get enough or the right quality of sleep, physical performance and mental fortitude are affected negatively.
Dance is an athletic activity that requires intense practice and can be competitive. Every day, dancers condition their bodies to perform the skills required, just like athletes. Dancing requires stamina. Whether you take part in private dance lessons or you attend group classes, getting proper sleep provides restoration for the body and mind and sets the stage for optimal performance so you have that edge.
How Sleep Affects Us
Sleep has a huge effect on athletic performance in rest and recovery. It also plays a part in the following:
- Motor function
- Muscle recovery
- Memory and learning
- Injury risk
As a dancer, inadequate sleep can affect your memory and, therefore, the ability to remember new combinations of steps. Your attention is affected, your problem solving, poor mental flexibility and processing can all be diminished when you don’t get enough sleep. Without proper sleep, you will be more apt to exhibit mental errors while you are dancing. For example faster dances like Swing dance are quick with multiple steps to remember.
When you aren’t getting adequate sleep, your coordination and balance suffer, which can lead to an increased potential for injury. Your immune system is weakened as well, making it more likely that you get sick.
Sleep deprivation affects your body on a cellular level. This shows up in your ability to burn calories. In multiple studies it has been shown that people who get less sleep now will put on more weight during the next two to four years.
Quantity of Sleep for a Dancer or Athlete
A regular individual needs about 7 – 9 hours of proper sleep. But, as a dancer or athlete who is in serious training for a competition and is stressing their muscles and burning energy, you would need at least 9 – 10 hours of sleep per night to recover adequately.
Quality of Sleep
There are 5 stages of sleep and everyone needs all 5, especially dancers and athletes. The first 2 stages are considered to be light sleep. During stage 1, you begin to drift from being awake to being asleep. In stage 2, you move into a steadier sleep where your breathing and heartbeat slow down and your muscles relax. Your body temperature decreases and your brain waves are less active.
Stages 3 and 4 are deep sleep. These stages are very important for restorative sleep. This is when your breathing, heartbeat, body temperature, and brain waves reach their lowest levels. Your muscles are extremely relaxed and you are difficult to rouse. In stage 4, your body heals by repairing and growing tissue and cellular energy is restored.
The fifth stage of sleep is REM, or rapid eye movement. REM sleep occurs about every 90 minutes. This is the state of sleep where you dream. Your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure rise to almost the same levels as when you are near waking.
How Much Deep Sleep Should You Get as a Dancer?
Since deep sleep is the time when your body recovers and repairs, stages 3 and 4 are very important. This holds true for everyone. It is recommended that you get about 13 to 23 percent in deep sleep. So, if you are sleeping for 8 hours, this is generally 62 to 110 minutes of sleep. During this phase of sleep, a variety of functions occur in the mind and body:
- Physical recovery occurs
- Blood sugar levels and metabolism balance out
- The immune system is strengthened
Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
So, how can you put yourself in the best position for a healthy night’s sleep? Here are some tips to follow:
- Make sure you are in a cool, dark environment
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and drug use
- Eat a healthy diet
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day
- Create sleep rituals and routines
- Get away from screen time before going to bed
- If you can, get a nap after lunch for approximately 20 minutes
Follow these tips and enjoy a better night’s sleep. You will be on your way to improving your daily life, not to mention your dancing!
Join One of Our Dance Classes Today!
At Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Durham we offer private lessons and group classes in range of different dances including, Latin, Ballroom, and Swing. We also know about the physical requirements in preparing your body for dancing competitions. We can help you establish an overall training program to improve your performance! Call us at (919) 489-4313 or fill out the form below. Together, we can enhance your mental and physical strength!