Sleep Deprivation: The Epidemic Facing Musicians & Artists Alike
Working in the music world often involves late nights, long recording sessions, and exhausting tour schedules. There is no arguing that a life in music is tough work.
Lack of sleep is all too real for up and coming artists. But what if we told you cutting back on sleep may be doing more harm than good?
Sleep deprivation has many negative effects including:
● Memory problems
● Trouble concentrating
● Weakened immunity
● Weight gain
● Increased anxiety and depression
● Decreased mood and energy
● High blood pressure
● Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
● Lack of balance and coordination
Surprisingly, sleep deprivation can even kill you, and your music career.
Even moderate sleep deprivation creates impairments similar to that of alcohol intoxication. One study noted that response times for those lacking sleep were 50% slower than those doing the same tasks at a 0.05% blood alcohol level. 17-19 hours without sleep is essentially the same thing, if not worse, than being drunk. Another study published in the 1980s discovered that sleep deprived rats died within 11-32 days of no sleep. Evidently, without it, our body does not function properly and our cognitive processes take a significant hit.
Why do we need sleep?
Sleep is the time we need to restore and rejuvenate the body. Although how the body does this and what processes are involved remains a bit of mystery, sleep is required to repair body tissues, transform short-term memory into long-term memory, and create and produce certain hormones for optimal functioning. It is a vital part of life.
Proper sleep can boost creativity. As an artist, creativity and memory are important to deliver in songwriting and performance. Without sleep, your performance and productivity may suffer. You may believe you are sacrificing your sleep to get ahead. Yet, you could actually be taking a few steps back.
Sp, how can you ensure you get a good night’s sleep?
1. Stick to a routine.
A regular sleep schedule helps keep your body’s internal clock in check. If you tend to have late nights, make sure you have time to sleep in afterward. Try to be consistent with your bedtime.
Aim to fall asleep at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day. If you have various gigs that go until midnight, plan your sleep schedule around this. Or make time for 15-20 minute power naps during your day. Power naps can provide that second wind and a much-needed energy boost when you find you are running on fumes.
Regular exercise can improve your quality of sleep. It, also, has a variety of other health benefits including improving mood, decreasing your risk of heart disease, and helping maintain a healthy weight. Exercise in the morning or during the day for a better night’s rest! Avoid late night exercise as this could actually lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
3. Avoid electronics and TV before bed.
Try engaging in a relaxing and peaceful activity an hour or so before bed. Put your phone and laptop away. Read a book or meditate before bed. Reduce your light exposure close to your bedtime. Doing so will help trigger your natural sleep cycle and help ease you into sleep.
4. Check your mattress and pillow.
Sometimes problems with sleep can be due to an old mattress or the wrong pillow. Your mattress should be supportive and ideally, changed every 10 years. Pillows should allow your spine to have a natural curvature. You don’t want a pillow that is too high, pushing your head forward, or one that is too firm causing discomfort in the neck and shoulders. It may take some experimentation to find the right pillow, but it is entirely worth it.
5. Avoid caffeine 6-7 hours before bed.
Restrict coffee for the morning or lunch time. If you must have a cup o’joe later in the day, try decaffeinated coffee or a herbal tea.
6. Avoid long naps.
As mentioned above, power naps can be beneficial. However, naps more than 20 minutes can drastically impact your sleep. It messes with your sleep-wake cycles and can actually lead to trouble sleeping later on at night.
7. Avoid alcohol and heavy snacks before bed.
Alcohol and late-night snacking can, also, wreak havoc on our internal clocks. Alcohol, in particular, affects melatonin production which is directly linked to our sleep cycles. Alcohol is best to be avoided, particularly the few hours leading up to your bedtime!
8. Sleep in a darkened and quiet room.
Make sure you have the ideal environmental set-up to get a good night’s rest. Reduce noise and darken the room with curtains or wear a sleep mask. Uninterrupted sleep is the best kind of sleep.
Get the proper amount of sleep and let your creative juices flow. That writer’s block could potentially be driven by sleep deprivation. Sleeping on it may be just what you need to reset and refresh.
Most healthcare professionals recommend that the average adult get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. There is no shame in taking care of yourself and your health. With proper and healthy sleep patterns, your body and mind will be primed to tackle the day at hand. Your expression as an artist will shine through, and you will be able to put forward t