Sleep: we all need it but, sometimes, we just can’t seem to get enough of it. It affects your long-term health and energy levels, but also has an impact on your physical appearance – probably one of the biggest concerns for brides-to-be before their big day.
In general, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep but the exact amount varies from person to person. A good night’s sleep won’t rid you of your problems in the run up to your wedding day, but it can mean that you’re able to deal with difficult or stressful situations more easily.
If you’re not getting enough sleep you tend to feel moody, irritable and lack focus – not ideal on the day of your wedding. So how can you improve your sleep? Here are some top tips from Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare:
Stay active during the day
Getting regular exercise during the day will help you to feel tired at night. Being active increases your metabolism and helps against stress and anxiety, which in turn will improve your sleep. Try to exercise earlier in the day or, if you prefer late night workouts, give yourself time to wind down and relax afterwards.
Watch what you eat and drink, and don’t smoke
Don’t have a heavy or spicy meal just before going to bed, as your body needs time to digest the food before sleep. Don’t go to bed hungry: a light snack before bedtime is ideal. Avoid caffeine – it can stay in your system for up to 6 hours and disrupt your sleep. A glass of wine may help you to fall asleep, but alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep, making you more likely to wake up during the night. Nicotine is a stimulant and studies suggest that non-smokers get better sleep than smokers.
Make your bedroom more sleep-friendly
Create a calm sleeping environment by turning your bedroom into a dark, quiet, clean and comfortable haven. A good temperature is between 18C and 24C. You may want to try black-out curtains, eye shades or ear plugs. Paint your room a calming colour. Remove any distractions that may keep you awake (including the family pets!) and keep your bedroom free from computers, TVs and phones. Is your mattress old? Is your pillow lumpy? Spoil yourself and invest in some new bedding.
Develop a bedtime ritual
Try to develop a relaxing night-time routine that prepares your body and mind for sleep. It could be taking a hot bath, reading a book, listening to calming music or having a milky drink – but try to stay away from bright lights and heated arguments just before bedtime.
Relax and unwind
Whether you need to stretch your muscles with yoga or calming your mind with meditation, there are numerous classes, apps, and books that can show you great methods to do both. Experiment and see what works for you. Some people find using a few drops of aromatherapy oil on the pillow, such as lavender, or a cup of chamomile tea to be soothing before bed time.
Don’t toss and turn – get out of bed instead
If you can’t fall asleep after half an hour, get up and do something else instead – try something relaxing like reading or listening to music. Only go back to bed when you feel tired. Similarly, if you find you’re dozing off on the sofa too early in the evening, get up and do a few jobs so that you save your snoozing for bedtime.
Ultimately, it’s all about relaxation. Learn how you best relax and, chances are, you’ll have a much more restful night and feel refreshed and ready for your big day.