Sleep is a complex and dynamic process, but one thing researchers do know is that sleep is essential for maintaining proper bodily function. Sleep allows our body and brain to repair, restore and re-energize. When people don’t get enough sleep, there are side effects such as poor memory, loss of focus, weakened immune system and mood changes. What you may not know is that sleep has many effects on the voice as well.
How does sleep affect my voice?
When you are restless or sleep deprived, people can tell based on your voice. Sounding “croaky” or “flat” are a few ways people may describe a sleep-deprived voice. Allowing your voice to rest is important to avoid any vocal strain and damage. Every night, our bodies require a certain amount of rest to be able to recharge and relax. If you are exhausted, you most likely won’t have the energy to breathe properly while using your voice.
When people are tired, they usually resort to caffeine to wake them up. Caffeine dehydrates the vocal folds. Hydration is essential to the vocal folds because it maintains suppleness and litheness. It also helps to keep the throat and mouth lubricated, maintaining the protective mucosal lining that coats the vocal folds. When you drink a lot of caffeine, your body – especially your vocal cords – become dehydrated, which can create more tension between your vocal cords. This can cause a shortened vocal range and difficulty singing or speaking.
If you start to notice that your voice sounds hoarse while you are singing, then you may be developing hoarseness, a general term that describes abnormal voice changes. These may include a breathy, raspy or strained voice with changes in pitch or volume. When this occurs, it is usually a sign that your vocal cords are being overworked, and they need to rest.
What can I do to get more rest?
Some people struggle when it comes to falling asleep. Fortunately, there are many techniques to solve that problem:
Get on a sleeping schedule and create a bedtime routine that allows your body to completely relax, such as reading a book or listening to calming music.
Practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness as they have the ability to lower cortisol levels and release tension, which helps the body feel relaxed.
Avoid naps during the day so you don’t create a poor sleeping schedule.
Stop drinking caffeine at least six hours before bed. Although it may not affect your alertness in the evening, studies show that drinking coffee several hours before bed disrupts the sleep cycle.
Avoid vigorous exercise 5-6 hours before bed because the boost in body temperature that comes with cardio workouts, along with their stimulating nature, might interfere with falling asleep, according to Sleep.org.
At Totum ENT, we can offer vocal support to get you back on track. Schedule an appointment with our voice specialist, Dr. Sarah Stackpole. Call (212) 288-2222 to learn about our telemedicine appointments.