Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ballet Dancers: So You Think You Can Sleep

The hit TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” confirms that some amateur dancers have all the right moves. But for pros who already know they can dance, the question is: Can they sleep?

The authors of a new study report that professional ballet dancers undergo a rigorous training regimen during rehearsal. The work can involve extreme physical and mental stress; long days and irregular schedules are common. These conditions can make it hard to sleep.

The study involved 24 classical ballet dancers. Participants were studied for 67 days before a premiere performance. Their sleep was measured by wrist actigraphy; they also completed sleep diaries.

Results show that the dancers’ average sleep duration was already low when the study began; they slept for just under seven hours.

This sleep duration decreased significantly over the course of the study; by the end of the rehearsal they were sleeping only about 6.5 hours per night.

Their sleep efficiency and time in bed decreased during the study; time spent awake after first falling asleep increased. The amount of time it took them to fall asleep did not change.

The study also measured the cognitive performance and health status of the dancers. Results indicate that their mental sharpness, concentration and speed were impaired.

The authors conclude that sleep deprivation caused the dancers’ health to deteriorate during rehearsal. They suggest that daytime naps may be helpful during the stressful training period.

In June the Sleep Education Blog
reported that sleep deprivation affects some people more than others. A study found that it has to do with your brain’s response to sleep loss.

Are you sleep deprived? Check out the
seven signs you need sleep on

Image by Damon White

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