Sleep Your Way to Less Anxious Presenting
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Sleep Your Way to Less Anxious Presenting

“The minute anyone’s getting anxious I say, ‘You must eat and you must sleep.’ They’re the two vital elements for a healthy life.” — Actress Francesca Annis

Getting a good night sleep may be the easiest way to help your public speaking. We have known for a while that good-quality, deep sleep helps prepare the brain for learning and consolidates newly acquired memories so that you can recall them more easily, especially when you sleep shortly after your learning occurs. The advice from sleep research is clear: When you are preparing and practicing a presentation, try to get a full night’s sleep rather than pulling an all-nighter.

New research from UC Berkeley adds another useful function of deep sleep: Anxiety reduction. Deep sleep, also known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, seems to allow the brain to reset the pre-frontal cortex which helps regulate emotions like anxiety by stabilizing extreme emotional responses. When research participants were not allowed to enter into NREM sleep, their self-reported anxiety the next day was much higher – up to 30% higher than those allowed to get a full night sleep.

This new evidence, when combined with earlier findings, strongly supports that good sleep hygiene is a useful and practical public speaking anxiety management tool.


November 12, 2019