Majoring in Music and Sleep: A Paradox?

Majoring in music and sleep; can you really fit these into the same sentence?

Despite a ton of research on the consequences (sometimes dire) of not getting enough sleep each night, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a lot of college music majors who actually get 7-8 hours of sleep more than a couple of nights in a row (unless they’re sick).

The culture – especially on a college campus – and especially if you’re a music major – may give lip service to the need for sleep. In reality, good sleep in college is far more elusive than good coffee, a good laundromat, a good parking spot, or a source for good gluten-free donuts. Late nights that turn into next mornings are common for many reasons. For music majors some of this stems from:

  • The availability of practice rooms – and the time to use them – has to happen after classes, lessons, rehearsals, and homework/studying are over.
  • Paying gigs often start late – and end early (the next day).
  • Downtime to be creative and compose solo or with others can’t happen when classes and lessons and rehearsals are scheduled.
  • Belief in the myth that you can catch up on sleep. You can’t.
  • Assuming you’ll be able to fall asleep when you can find time to sleep.

We don’t pretend to know how to reconcile the need for sleep with the facts of college life. We’d like to believe that if you “get” how important sleep is while you’re still in high school, you’ll somehow be able to prioritize sleep along with everything else. But that’s probably not realistic. However, if you enter music school knowing that sleep will be at a premium, perhaps you’ll go off armed with some strategies that will help you stay out of sleep deprivation trouble.

If you have anecdotes, suggestions, ideas, tips, etc. for other music students around sleep, send them to


  1. Joseph

    I find that not using electronics about an hour before bed increases the quality of sleep; maybe read a book or do something non electronic before bed. I also find that not eating heavily or rich food right before bed makes for better quality sleep.
    While not everyone has time to work out, I find that working out constantly every week leads to higher quality sleep, even just for 10-30 minutes.

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