Did you know that the National Sleep Foundation has found that most children require 9 to 14 hours every 24 hours, depending on their age. Enough sleep also means healthy sleep, which produces a well-rested individual. Healthy sleep impacts both physical and intellectual development, both of which are necessary for high levels of achievement in dance. For a dancer to perform at his or her full potential, one of the many things needed is a steady pattern of healthy sleep.
Importance of Sleep Habits
We’re not just talking about getting to bed a little early the night before a recital or competition (although that’s always a good idea); even more important is that there’s a regular pattern of uninterrupted nighttime sleep that results in a well-rested dancer who’s functioning at her best! A constant sleep schedule that coordinates with a child’s natural biological rhythms is a significant way to achieve the coveted well-rested state.
How To Spot a Well-Rested Dancer
Just because one of your dancers has a bed time of 8 p.m. and an alarm that’s set for 6 a.m. doesn’t mean she’s getting a full 10 hours of sleep. Besides that, her body may actually need more than that magic number. The results show whether the amount of sleep she’s getting is enough. A well-rested person will be alert (but not hyper-alert) and able to interact with others, follow the dance instructor’s directions, and respond to physical cues. If a dancer is groggy or hyper, her attention span and ability to control reactions may suffer. If you can describe a dancer’s disposition as generally attentive, pleasant, calm, and even wide-eyed, you can be fairly sure that that dancer is regularly getting healthy sleep. (Of course, she’s probably also quite likely to achieve great heights in her dancing career!)
How To Spot a Dancer Who’s Sleep Deprived
Of course, fatigue is probably the most tell-tale sign of sleep deprivation. Some children can become over-stimulated easily due to lack of sleep as well. In a young dancer’s body, adrenaline and other hormones are secreted in order to fight fatigue. If you encounter a dancer who displays plenty of energy along with irritability and frequently has emotional melt downs, you’re probably noticing signs that she’s overtired. Whether the issue is tied to staying up late, waking in the night, or some other cause, no attempt to address the behavior will lead to long-term success if the underlying sleep issues themselves aren’t addressed.
If you suspect that one of your dancers isn’t getting enough sleep, you may want to talk with his or her parents about the issue. Since so much energy and attentiveness are required for dance, you may be the first one to notice there’s an issue. As you partner with parents to encourage your dancers toward healthy sleep, you’ll be doing more than helping them be better dancers: you’ll be helping them take steps toward a healthy life.