How to Not Let Wedding Stress Ruin Your Sleep
Don't get me wrong, I've been looking forward to my wedding day since the fourth grade—but planning the happiest day of your life is straight-up stressful. I'm still a good six months out, and I've already lost more than a few nights of sleep worrying about how many people I can afford to invite and who will be offended if I don't give them a plus-one.
Will I sleep at all in the last couple of months, weeks, and days leading up to the Big Event? That remains to be determined. For the sake of my sanity—and that of soon-to-be-married people out there everywhere—I decided to learn as much as I can about how to ensure I walk down that aisle bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, not completely exhausted.
How wedding planning messes with your sleep
These days, wedding planning is a never-ending list of to-dos to tackle, logistics to figure out, and concerns about everything from finances to whether you picked the right flavor of cake. For many of us, our wedding is by far the biggest and most emotional event we'll ever plan. As a result, we find ourselves in hyperdrive, over-analyzing and second-guessing every single decision.
“All of these factors can leave our minds racing," says Sue Peacock, associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and creator of Sleep Well With Dr. Sue. “This then creates so much anxiety that we either have trouble falling asleep or wake up during the night—or both." In some cases, we even get stuck in the vicious cycle of feeling anxious about going to bed because we think we'll have trouble sleeping.
The case for scoring quality shuteye while wedding-planning
Look, I understand wanting your wedding day to be completely, 100% perfect. But here's an inconvenient truth: If you want to actually enjoy the experience, you absolutely must get the rest you need leading up to it.
“When we're tired, a lot of sensations we might usually feel go unnoticed. Our body is simply too tired to register them all," says sleep guru Lina Velikova, MD. “And we don't want this to happen on our wedding day."
Consistently missing out on sleep before your wedding can also lead to several other issues that ultimately sabotage your health and wellness—and your special day. “Lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain, make you irritable or anxious, and diminish your sex drive," says Peacock. All bad news for your inner wellbeing and potentially even for the relationship you're going to be celebrating. (Not to mention, lack of sleep also contributes to serious long-term health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes.)
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How to keep wedding stress from ruining your sleep
Yes, you will pretty much always have a to-do list in the months, weeks, and days leading up to your wedding, but with these expert-backed tips, it doesn't have to destroy your sleep.
Stick to a sleep schedule. No matter how tempted you may be to stay up until two in the morning addressing invitations, aim for a consistent bedtime every night. “Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day reinforces the sleep cycle," says Peacock. Set your bedtime and stick to it.
Give yourself time to unwind every night. For at least 30 minutes to an hour before going to sleep, put wedding business aside and relax, suggests Kimberly Wilson, licensed independent clinical social worker, therapist, yoga teacher, and author. “Make a cup of chamomile tea, take a warm bath, or read," she says. Put your phone away to both help your mind slow down and limit your exposure to sleep-disrupting blue light.
Tune in and breathe deep. If you need extra help shifting out of wedding-planning mode—or just can't drift off at night—try a mindfulness exercise, like a body scan, meditation, or visualization. (Whatever you choose, spend about 10 to 20 minutes on it.)
“A body scan walks you through the different parts of your body and encourages your awareness of physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions," says Wilson. “This can help move you out of planning mode and into your body in the present moment." (Wilson recommends following along with this one.)
“Meditation, meanwhile, helps bring you into the present moment and quiet your busy mind," Wilson says. Check out a meditation app, like Headspace, which will guide you through the practice of taking a step back from your thoughts and focusing on your breath.
Or try a visualization, suggests Peacock. “Close your eyes and imagine a place that's calming and peaceful. Concentrate on how relaxed this place makes you feel," she says. This can help calm your mind so you're better prepared to sleep.
What to do the night before you say "I do"
Honestly, I can't imagine anyone gets a incredibly restful night of sleep the night before their wedding, but it's not a completely lost cause.
“Don't be too hard on yourself," says Peacock. “Embrace and accept that you just might not get your best night's sleep and don't dwell on it."
From there, be intentional about how you spend your final night before married life.
Ease off on the caffeine. Even if you can usually handle caffeine later in the day, Wilson recommends nixing it after lunchtime the night before your big day. “Caffeine has a long half-life and can suppress slow-wave sleep, the restorative sleep in the first half of the night," she says.
…And on the alcohol too. Tempting as it may be, keep your alcohol consumption at the rehearsal dinner as minimal as possible. “Its digestion will set in around three or four in the morning, which can wake you up and make it difficult to fall back asleep," Wilson says.
Give yourself a few hours to unwind. Considering your jitters will be at an all-time high—and your wedding day will be busy—take a few hours before bedtime to treat yourself and chill out. Get a massage, do a gentle yoga class with friends or family, read a favorite book, or take a luxurious bath, suggests Wilson. Avoid the screens; you'll have enough over-stimulation tomorrow!
Consider melatonin. If you're really worried about staring at the ceiling all night, consider taking a melatonin supplement before bed, recommends Velikova. This natural "sleep hormone" may give your body just the help it needs in getting you to settle down and sleep.
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