|Is tango harming your physical health? Probably.|
Is late-night tango harming your long-term health more than helping it?
Luckily, that can be changed easily enough. Tango is healthy for us in many ways as this blog has pointed out for over ten years. In the last ten years, scientists have only started realizing just how bad sleep deprivation is. And the problem with tango? Mostly we do it at the wrong time of our sleep cycle! Our present enjoyment of tango too often leaves us sleep-deprived and with a messed up circadian rhythm.
Let say we are dedicated to our health by ...
--having a great exercise program,
--meditating every day,
--staying in contact with friends and family,
--being inspired by literature, the arts, and charismatic educators,
--being out in nature often ...
. . . but then, let's say, we do these healthy things in the middle of the night and constantly get only four hours of sleep!
Under the list of "things that are good for me," one must consider: What, how much, and WHEN. Tango is mostly doing the "when" part very badly when it comes to your health.
My own confession:
I admit that tango used to be the single most disruptive element in my life to my health. Tango was vital for my mood and passion for life, but I was ignorant about the price I was paying. For example, as a new tango dancer and a once-good sleeper, I would drive to milongas four times a week 100 kilometers away. On the way home, I would buy a coffee and drink it to stay awake at the wheel. At that time I could sleep well and wake up for work. Even with coffee in my system, I could have slept for eight hours, but I was off to work with four to six hours of sleep, not knowing that my memory and health were being severely compromised. My body, I believe, also was aging prematurely. The good news is that I am regaining memory; I have a stronger immune system, a lower morning heart rate--just by sleeping as long as my body will allow me. Tango remains a wonderful boost to my mood, as it was then, but now without sacrificing my sleep. These days, I search out early milongas. But even in regaining health, there are many things I cannot recover because of my ignorance of the importance of sleep.
|Not drunk, just exhausted!|
Dance marathons in the 1920s and 30s
led to the deaths of some participants.
You need sleep, baby!
The Solution is having more and more early tango events. Have a dialogue with organizers about the feasibility of earlier milongas and practicas in your town. Early tango events will start to be the norm, sooner or later. I know of an Australian community where early milongas are normal. The present tango scene will not change easily to better health choices. But the new generation will know "too much" to continue risking their long-term health prospects. The older milongueros may have smoked, drank in excess, pulled out knives easily, and stayed out late in spite of needing to get up for work. Which of these health risks have you already rejected as part of your tango? Ready for giving up sleep deprivation, which is worse than smoking moderately? Your love of being in your body with music and a warm embrace will someday not be paired with sleep deprivation.
Please watch this! The below TED Talk by Matt Walker gives a great overview of what we now know about sleep, much of which has been learned only in the last ten years.
Note: I plan to add more solutions in a future post. If you have insomnia, I will suggest a tango-specific, scientifically proven protocol to beat insomnia for dancers.
- Wind up man on the way to work: New Zealand article on "Adrenial Fatigue."
- Exhausted woman: Dangerous, even deadly dance marathons of the 1920's.