Pre-wedding jitters are normal, but you shouldn't let those silly nerves affect your sleep! Especially on the night before the wedding, most women find it hard to clock enough z's. To help you get a restful night's sleep, clinical psychologist Dr. Michael J. Breus—also known as The Sleep Doctor—provides dos and don'ts to follow in the months leading up to your wedding and the evening before.
Establish a sleep schedule (in advance!).
Try your best to follow a normal, healthy sleep schedule in the months ahead of your wedding. That way, on the night before the big day, your body will already be trained to fall asleep. Dr. Breus has a five-step method he uses with many of his patients. First, have one wake up time all week long. "The more consistent your wake-up time, the more your body will naturally know when to wake up and go to sleep," says Dr. Breus. If you drink caffeine, you shouldn't enjoy your first cup until you've already been up for 90 minutes, and should stop drinking it by 2 p.m. "If you wait just 90 minutes, your cortisol levels go down, and caffeine will be much more effective. Also, caffeine has a half-life of six to eight hours, so if you stop by 2 p.m., it should have only minimal effects on your ability to fall asleep at night," he explains.
Next, stop drinking alcohol at least three hours before bed. Why? "It takes the average human one hour to metabolize one alcoholic beverage," Dr. Breus explains. "If you average two at a meal (more than two will have serious effects on deep, refreshing sleep and contribute to a hangover), you should give yourself three hours from your last sip to lights out so that it won't affect the quality of your sleep." You should also exercise daily, but stop four hours before lights out. "While daily exercise is an easy way to improve sleep quality, some people seem to get more 'energized' after exercise," he says. Finally, within 30 minutes of waking up, you should try to get 15 minutes of sunlight, as this is a second way of resetting your internal circadian rhythm and getting rid of morning brain fog, he explains. "Sunlight turns off the melatonin faucet in the brain and helps clear the cobwebs of sleep."
Take a deep breath.
If you're having trouble falling asleep, try to reduce stress with deep breathing. "My favorite is either deep breathing exercises (I like the 4-7-8 Method), Progressive Muscle Relaxation, or meditation," Dr. Breus says. The goal is to get your heart rate down—to below 60 beats per minute, if possible—because that is when you can best fall sleep.
Assess your environment.
In order to stay asleep, get a good night's rest, and wake up feeling great, there are some basic rules to follow. According to Dr. Breus, you should be sleeping in a cool, dark, and quiet environment. About one hour before bed, limit your electronics and stop drinking fluids. If you wake up during the night, try not to sit or stand up. This will increase your heart rate, which makes it difficult to get back to sleep. "Don't look at the clock," adds Dr. Breus. "When you do, your brain instantly does the mental math and raises your anxiety level. Try the deep breathing and lie there quietly."
Know your chronotype.
"A chronotype is a person's genetic propensity for a particular sleep schedule," says Dr. Breus. Think "early bird" or "night owl." Dr. Breus has a quiz to help you identify your chronotype, which will help you to choose the right bedtime, see if you and your partner are sleep compatible, and more.