Updated: Apr 12, 2020
You’ve been training for months - fine tuning your technique in dance class, building your strength, improving your flexibility, eating to fuel your body with the proper nutrients and more.
But let’s focus on one major factor that you may be forgetting…SLEEP!
Not getting enough has a huge effect on your stress level as it can effect your memory, judgement and mood. Getting enough sleep is a critical for every Irish dancer. Sleep studies have shown that getting enough sleep is beneficial to reaching peak athletic performance through
fewer mental errors
reduced injury rates
improved reaction times.
Each person will be a bit different for how much sleep they need. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get between 8-10 hours a night. So how does this pan out for competition days?
Say you’re dancing at the Oireachtas with your first round starting at 8:00am. Now let’s work backwards.
8:00am - round 1 starts
7:00am - arrive at stage to warm up and run through steps
6:30am - walk to venue
5:30am - hair & makeup
5:00am - wakeup & eat breakfast
To get 9 hours of sleep on a competition night with a 5:00am wakeup, you need to be getting to bed at 8:00pm!
I would say the majority of you do not fall asleep on competition nights by 8pm. But if you start planning and training for that now, you’ll get closer to that full night’s rest to reach optimal performance.
Let’s say you typically fall asleep at 10:00pm. Over the next week, start gradually pushing your bedtime earlier by 15 minutes. Force yourself to shut your phone off and get to sleep. Then in a couple days, go to bed another 15 minutes earlier. You need to train your sleep just like you train your dancing.
You have come this far! Give yourself that extra boost by getting a full nights rest the night before the competition. Start tonight to train your sleep just like you’ve been training your dancing.
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National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). What happens when you sleep? Retrieved from http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/what-happens-when-you-sleep.
McCann, K. Ongoing study continues to show that extra sleep improves athletic performance. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.aasmnet.org/articles.aspx?id=954
Luke, A., Lazaro, RM., et all. Sports-related injuries in youth athletes: Is overscheduling a risk factor? Clin J Sport Med. 2011 Jul;21(4):307-14. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21694586.