Morning voice is a common problem for singers. After a night of sleep, your voice can sound raspy and deeper. Although we all experience a croaky voice in the morning, there are steps you can take to minimize and shorten the effects.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
We can help reduce our voice issues by taking steps the night before. By developing a nighttime ritual, your mornings can be less croaky and deep.
Note: While low, deeper notes are essential for singers, we want to sing them with proper technique as opposed to using swollen morning vocal cords.
Sleep: did you get as much sleep as you needed? Lack of sleep is a voice killer! Sleep is when the body heals itself, and your vocal cords are no exception. Most singers need at least 8 hours. Try and create a schedule that is conducive to good vocal health.
Your Sleeping Environment – Are you sleeping in dry air that has been heated or air-conditioned? If so, you should be running a humidifier to put throat-soothing moisture back into the air and onto your vocal cords. Proper levels of humidity are essential for vocal health.
A hygrometer is a handy, inexpensive device that will tell you the humidity level in your environment. Whenever it drops below 45%, you should be running your humidifier.
Eating late – This is a real problem for singers. With crazy hours and late performances, singers often find themselves hungry just before bedtime. This is the worst time to eat as you don’t want the body to digest food as you are sleeping. This can cause acid reflux, where stomach acid can travel up the esophagus and burn the cords. Acid reflux is one of the main culprits of a harsh, tired, deep voice.
If you must eat, make sure it is something light (no protein or spices) and easily digestible, like a broth.
Coffee – Many of us (including myself) rely on this wonderful beverage to help get us going in the morning. However, coffee is not the best beverage for helping your voice. It can also contribute to acid reflux.
Coffee also can dehydrate the voice, leaving the vocal cords dry. If you do drink coffee, make sure to replace the lost moisture with plenty of water.
First Words– Do you start talking away on your morning voice, or do you allow it to warm up with some gentle vocalizing?
Remember, your vocal cords have been at rest for many sleeping hours, dragging dry air through them (which is a reason why they sound deeper in the morning). Doing a lot of heavy talking on your dry, swollen cords can cause additional irritation. Give them some time to rehydrate and rejuvenate. Water and warming up are essential.
Warming up with a common straw is one of the most effective ways to get your voice aligned and working properly. I have a free straw warmup course you can download right here:
Morning Shower – The perfect time to steam those cords. A little extra hot water and deep breathing are great for getting them moisturized.
Performance Days – You need to give your voice time to “wake up,” shake off that raspy, deeper voice and get ready for a performance. Some of the toughest challenges my students have is performing on morning radio or TV shows.
You should get up at least two hours before you have to sing, even if this causes you to have less than optimal sleep time.
Eat a light breakfast, and start hydrating right away.
Warm-up: Make sure to warm-up before the performance – but don’t work the voice too intensely. Football players don’t lift weights before a game. Don’t overwork your voice either. And remember, vocalizing through a straw is one of the best ways to get your voice going.
Good habits and pre-planning can help anyone get through their morning voice problems..