Wednesday, July 06, 2005

help! i need more sleep!

i need more sleep and my life won't give it to me.

my little brother emmett's fiance melinda went back to atlanta on monday morning and i still haven't recovered from her visit. the reason why is because i didn't get more than two hours of sleep on any given night for the entire fourth of july weekend. don't get me wrong: she's a nice girl and i like her a lot but basically, she snores like a man. and after doing two gigs in one night on my birthday, the lack of sleep left me with no healing time for my voice to fully recover, so i was talking like a man for days on end, which always frazzles me because it sounds problematic.

here's why sleep is so important to a vocalist.

the vocal cords heal when they are apart. they are apart when you aren't speaking and when you are asleep. a lot of opera singers i know don't speak until a certain hour of the day. i try to either sleep or not speak (or eat anything) until at least noon. i have had my share of vocal injuries in the past and i have fully recovered from them, so i am extremely grateful for every clear note that goes sailing out of my mouth whenever i sing. and i do what i have to do to make sure that those notes stay clear and resonant.

i have acid reflux, so this means that generally, i can't eat at night and that there are a grocery list of things that i can't eat at all. of course, there are no hard and fast rules. it's all about the individual, their body, what works for them. i have a friend that's a tenor who can lose his upper register if he eats any kind of cheese. i have another musical theater pal who could eat his way through a block of cheddar and be completely unaffected. so it depends. i'm fine with cheese. i'm even fine with spicy foods, as long as i eat it in the middle of the day. it's all about moisture and sleep for me. i've experimented enough to know that if i don't humidify my surroundings, get the optimum amount of sleep, drink plenty of water and stop eating after 9pm, i'm not going to have much of a voice. if i have to do 8 shows a week, there's going to be prevacid and humibid involved but generally i like to steer clear of those drugs because they're so expensive. and besides i don't like the idea of having to pop pills to get my throat together. (now i sound like a black hippie...)

last night, i got home at 4:30am, took out my contacts, gulped down a quart of water, threw myself onto my fluffy bed and slept soundly until 1pm. as soon as i was conscious, i tried to sing a clear tone, to see where my vocal cords were. (hm...not 100% yet. more like 75%. but hey, at least i don't sound like a drag queen anymore...) i was so grateful to God for a good night's sleep, i actually woke up thanking Jesus.

i think i need another two days of this 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep time before everything heals and snaps back to normal. okay, three days. that'll put me right at my next gig: a private party with ron sunshine's smoking section on water street.

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