Ever notice your voice sounds raspy, hoarse, or lower pitched in the morning? That's normal! Everyone- cisgender and trans* alike- wakes up with morning voice. I've certainly woken up tired with my voice crackly and gravely. Morning voice is a result of three changes that happen while we rest:
Vibrating the true vocal folds (or vocal cords) while making voiced sounds maintains a hydrostatic equilibrium. While resting, you don't use your voice. As a result, fluids collect in the true vocal folds.
We always have mucous running down from our sinuses, but during the day swallowing and voice use typically clears it. While resting, a thin layer of mucous build ups overnight.
The mucous membranes in your true vocal folds can dry out- especially if you mouth breathe while you sleep.
Fortunately, there is an easy solution!
A morning vocal warm up can pretty quickly return your voice to it's habitual state- the voice you talk in when you're not thinking about how you sound. I like the metaphor of "wringing out your vocal folds." You're basically returning to a hydrostatic equilibrium, removing built up mucous, and rehydrating your folds.
I recorded an explanation for how to do my morning vocal warm up here: https://www.harmonicspeech.com/vocalhealth
Any vocal warmup will help- ours is just optimized to warm up the parts of our voices we use when changing voice gender.
There are other things that can help your morning voice clear up:
If you have mucous settled in your throat, drinking water can help clear it. Warm liquids can also help clear mucous. Drinking liquids don't clear mucous from your vocal folds directly- they wash some of the mucous in your throat into your stomach, so it never reaches your voice box. If liquids are going into your voice box when you swallow, you might cough or clear your throat after you drink. If that is happening, you might want to look into dysphagia.
Think about what you did the night before you woke up with undesirable vocal huskiness. If you were speaking or singing in a loud environment, you could be wearing out your voice. The Lombard effect, a psychoacoustics law, explains that when we speak, we automatically raise our vocal to be about 35 decibels above the background noise. If you're going to speak in loud environments, use the vocal warm up before, and after, as a cool down.
If warming up your voice doesn't improve it, there might be something else going on. For example, you might have unmanaged reflux. Read here for tips on how to manage reflux to keep your body and voice at it's best. For example, sleeping on your left side helps keeps acid in your stomach while you sleep.
Fun fact- Avi Kaplan said on The Sing Off that he naps before performances to get his voice even deeper!
Are you looking to change your voice to be a more authentic expression of yourself? I'd love to help! Sign up for a free phone consultation on our website to learn more: www.harmonicspeech.com
-Tallulah Breslin, MS, CCC/SLP
Gender Affirming Voice Training @HarmonicSpeech