Falling into bed at 4am after a brilliant night of music and dancing in Sydney, followed by a long 3 hour drive home, my head barely hits the pillow and I’m asleep. I wish I could say that happened every night, but for me, it doesn’t.
The effects of an over-active brain, the combination of mental exhaustion & not being generally physically tired from sitting, too much screen time & effects of screen light, and now the creeping menopause effects of hot flushes and arthritis, all conspire against good sleep.
The other undesirable element is the potential for weight gain- not helped by a cold winter and the desire for lots of lovely “comfort” food – beautifully braised lamb shanks with lots of potatoes, baked rice pudding, pumpkin scones (with tons of butter, of course) – need I go on?
My typical downward spiral goes something like this:
- Wake up and go straight to computer and end up sitting in front of computer long hours
- Dance & exercise time is short or put off until later in the day
- Feel guilty about not doing more movement/ dance + dog is wagging tail for walkies
- Grab a bit of comfort food while doing work -> polish off the lot
- Go to bed feeling over-full and not tired enough and too hot – toss and turn
- Wake up feeling tired
- Morning dance & exercise plans are out the window (too cold to go out) -> Dog is eyeballing me and the front door anxiously- tail down
- Muscles are stiff and clothes start to feel tight-> pyjamas are still on at 2pm
- Not feeling great -> more comfort food-> dance & exercise clothes don’t fit anymore- will do it tomorrow
- Dog has defected to husband and trots off without a backward glance
Happily however, recent research on all these elements – music, exercise & movement, sleep, weight loss, mood, concentration, memory and performance – shows they are all carefully interlinked and it’s not that hard to get your health spiralling upwards by getting moving, listening and dancing to music.
- Boosts the immune system and reduces pain
- Reduces heartbeat, pulse rate and blood pressure
- Improves your mood and happy feeling
- Helps an ageing brain stay healthy
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Improves sleep quality
Music & dance multiplier effect
Most seasoned dancers will have had the experience of being almost exhausted, about to sit down and then more magic music does it’s thing and lifts you along for just one more dance. Research shows that people doing physical exercise to music go further and go harder, and that music can also help the body in the recovery phase. READ MORE ABOUT THIS
Dr Siobhan Banks has been researching sleep and weight loss at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the US and is now a research fellow at the Centre for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia says “We know sleep loss affects normal physiological functioning. In the short term this is not necessarily a bad thing, but when sleep loss becomes habitual the disruption of hormones and metabolism may contribute to weight gain.”
So, how much is enough sleep? “Don’t worry about how many hours of sleep you get, but how you feel when you open your eyes in the morning,” says Dr Timothy J. Sharp, author of The Good Sleep Guide. READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC
I can honestly say that every single morning following a session of solid dancing, I stretch out in the bed and have that delicious overall feeling and rosy glow of good health. And my dog is much happier, too!
Nora Stewart, Easy Irish Dance
- Music and health – http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/03/13/seven-reasons-why-music-benefits-your-health/
- Music and movement – http://greatist.com/happiness/unexpected-health-benefits-music
- Sleep & weight loss http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/weight+loss/lose+weight/sleep+linked+to+weightloss,8207