Dancing has an unfair reputation as merely a hobby rather than a sport. Yet in order to master some styles and moves, dancers need to have the physical fitness and concentration of an athlete. Physiotherapist Adam Rowland who has worked in both ballet and rugby league compared the two disciplines: “they [ballet dancers] do more hours training or rehearsing than professional football or rugby players do.”
Dancing at any level is a demanding sport that requires dancers to take care of their bodies. Sleep is one aspect of the daily routine that every dancer can work on to improve their health and, more importantly, their dancing.
Lack of sleep can quickly cause the body to wear out. For people who engage in vigorous physical activities, like dance, lack of sleep can have a negative effect on their performance, both physically and mentally. After a physical workout the body needs to be able to repair properly and the right amount of sleep will ensure that the body is ready to face new challenges everyday.
It is not just physical strength that sleeping aids but mental strength. Dancing requires a strong level of concentration to remember the moves and patterns. Stephanie Draus wrote on The Nest that failing to prioritize sleep can lead to memory failure. She writes: “if you are performing choreographed material, you must memorize steps, sequences and rhythms… when sleep is missed, memory fails.”
Gymnastics is dancing’s closest relative in the Olympics. Both disciplines require a good memory, rhythm, and balance. Multi-gold medallist Aly Raisman is brand ambassador to mattress innovators Leesa. Together they have developed a blanket that is ideal for sleeping and traveling. The idea for the blanket came from Raisman. She told Leesa that she needed a source of comfort, to help her sleep and rest, during the journeys to gymnastic meetings.
Traveling can also be a major aspect of dancing, especially if you are a traveling professional artist, and a comfortable journey could be the difference between arriving fresh and ready, and arriving stiff and tired. Even a quick nap can make all the difference. Sara Mendnick author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life said: “a 10 – 20 minute nap will provide a quick boost of alertness.”
Dancing is a fun endeavor that can have a lot of benefits to your body and life. For instance, Kim Torrence contributed an article to our Masacote Blog detailing how she combined mindfulness with dance to give her a new appreciation of salsa. Engaging in regular dance classes can go a long way to keeping both your brain and your body healthy. Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld informs that dancing slows down age-related concerns both mentally and physically. Yet without the proper sleep you could be missing out on taking full advantage of all those health benefits.
From those who struggle to sleep there are several easy tips you can try. The temperature of your room is important and you are far more likely to sleep in a cool environment than a hot one. Avoiding electronic screens (including your mobile phone) 30 minutes before going to bed has also been proven to help. Ensuring that you get a good night’s sleep may seem like a small thing, but if done right it will have a big effect on your dancing performance.