As a dancer, sleep is extremely important. Not only does it help you to be attentive and able to meet the physical demands of dance, but it also helps your body to remain healthy and able to perform well in the future. In addition to going to bed and getting up at regular times, allowing for your body to get enough hours of actual shut-eye, there are a few other things you can do in order to make sure you actually get the kind of healthy sleep which your body needs.
Know Your Body’s Cues
If you’re usually pretty easy-going but find yourself wanting to argue with every bit of advice your favorite dance instructor gives, the cause may be tied to sleep. In the same way, if you’re usually the life of the party but just don’t want anything to do with your dance team or anyone else, sleep may also be to blame. When you notice these changes in your attitude, take a moment to consider how well you’ve been sleeping lately and what might be keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep. Even more importantly, take steps to get better sleep tonight; your mind and body need it.
Allow for Margin in Your Schedule
Yes, we get it. Between school, dance rehearsal, homework, and other responsibilities, life can get busy. But your body needs down time, too. Not only do you need to go to bed in time to get that magical amount of sleep (which varies from person to person) but you also need some time to decompress before bed time. If you’re reviewing your competition piece right before bed, you know what you’ll be doing when your head hits the pillow. And it will keep you from getting to sleep as well as from achieving healthy, restful sleep.
Say Goodnight to Screens Early On
Light-emitting screens can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms, which influence your body’s production of melatonin. What that means is that your body naturally responds to light by thinking it’s morning and time to wake up. By calling it quits on screen time an hour before you plan to go to bed, you work with your body’s natural cycles to promote healthy sleep. For extra benefits, keep any phones or other electronics out of your bedroom during sleeping hours; you’ll not only avoid getting woken up by notifications, but you’ll also send yourself a message that you’re in your room to sleep, not to view a screen.
Incorporate Stress-Relief Rituals into Your Routine
Maybe it’s taking the time to write in a journal or turning on some relaxing music. Maybe it’s reading a chapter of a book or flipping through your dance competition photos from previous years. Or maybe not. Sometimes, just thinking about dance can drive your mind to think about upcoming recitals or competitions, resulting in delaying sleep rather than encouraging it. Again, you need to know yourself and figure out what helps you relax before bed.