You know how important it is to get a good night's sleep, but in the weeks leading up to your nuptials, a packed schedule (those table assignments aren't going to set themselves) and wedding-related anxieties can make it tough to log quality shut-eye. The good news, says sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley, is that you might not need a full eight hours. While Stanley, the former director of sleep research at the University of Surrey, says most people function best on a solid seven to nine hours in bed, "some only need four while others may need up to 11." A good way to tell what you require is by paying attention to how sleepy you are mid-afternoon. If you're wiped out, "you almost certainly didn't get enough." Here, learn how to get your fill.
Set a routine.
Say sayonara to your snooze button. A fixed morning alarm can actually leave you feeling more rested, swears the U.K.-based pro. Roughly 90 minutes before your usual wake-up time, your body starts making preparations to be up and at 'em, so to speak. "If your brain knows when you are going to wake, it can ensure you hit the ground running," he swears.
Become an early bird.
To ensure you're getting quality rest, you should plan to be up before 7 a.m., says certified child and family sleep consultant Jenni June. "An adult's natural biological wake time is usually within an hour of sunrise, or when core body temperatures naturally begin to elevate," she says. While it may feel great to stay in bed until 9 a.m., "it's generally just junk sleep and not restorative at all because our core body temperatures have already risen and triggered the production of cortisol."
Don't plan before pillow time.
Carving out time for daily wedding planning sessions is smart to stay on top of a busy schedule, but make sure not to set it too close to bedtime, says Stanley: "You want to have a good wind-down period." June recommends calling it quits at least two hours before bed.
Limit screen time.
You also shouldn't touch your computer or iPhone in the hour before you hit the sheets since the blue light that screens emit can make it more difficult to fall asleep. June breaks down the science: "When exposed to any screen device—regardless of the filters—our eye-gate sends a signal to the hypothalamus, tricking the brain into believing it's seeing the same blue light, or hue, that emanates from the early morning rising sun. When this happens, we are flooded with wakefulness hormones, like cortisol, designed to help us stay awake and perform during the day. Exposure to screen devices an hour and half to two hours prior to sleep absolutely sabotages melatonin production."
Listen to your body.
It will tell you when your melatonin is rising and it's time for sleep, swears June: "If we obey these then we easily fall asleep and connect from one sleep cycle to the next without fragmentation, allowing us to get that deep sleep that supercharges our bodies and brains the next day."
Make your bedroom a sanctuary.
To set the stage for quality winks, says Stanley, remove all gadgets from your bedroom, make sure the temperature is not too cold or too warm (cracking a window can help, he says, noting "fresh air is good for sleep") and, perhaps most importantly, says the pro, "Find the biggest, most comfortable bed you can afford."
Delete wedding stress.
Okay, eliminating it may be a reach, but you can find a nighttime routine that will leave you feeling calmer. While Stanley's go-to is reading, a quick bout of yoga, meditation, or even listening to your favorite album may set the stage for quality rest. You're looking for something that quiets your mind, he says, noting, "Stress, anxiety, and worry are the enemies of good sleep."