The RSVP cards are in. Flowers are being arranged. Your Aunt Janice is asking if the white of her dress is too similar to the bride’s. It must be your wedding week.
This is one of the most important, exciting, and stressful times of your life which is why it is essential you maintain healthy sleeping habits. A long night’s rest is probably the furthest thing from your mind right now. In fact, you probably have “I can sleep after ‘I do’” embroidered on a tote bag at this point. But here’s why that might not be a great idea.
First and foremost, losing sleep will only serve to increase your stress levels. The lack of rest makes us more reactive to stressful situations, so you may find yourself yelling at Aunt Janice rather than politely texting her, “Ya know, I’ve always loved you in blue. Do you have anything in navy to wear for my big day?”
If you’re not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep a night, you’re putting yourself at risk of more than increased stress. Lack of sleep can cause loss of alertness, impaired memory, relationship stress, and it may even have an effect on your appearance. That’s right, your determination to pull wedding all-nighters might be the reason you’re snapping at your soon-to-be-spouse, forgetting to call the florist, and your makeup artist is pulling out the big guns to cover those dark under-eye circles.
If tossing and turning is part of your wedding planning routine, here are 25 things you can do to protect your rest leading up to (and after) your big day.
The Ultimate Wedding Rest Guide
Part I: Before the Vows
Give yourself a bedtime
Yes, just like when you were little. At least three weeks before your wedding day, you should create a sleep cycle for yourself. Pick a bedtime and a wake-up time and stick to it. Yes, even on weekends.
2. Get some sun (but don’t get burned)!
Your body needs a few UV rays to reset your internal clock and keep your circadian rhythm on track. Start every morning with at least 15 minutes of sunshine. Even a cloudy day has sunshine – remember that epic sunburn you got when it was completely overcast?
3. Find moments to be still
Certified wedding planner Kevin Dennis with Fantasy Sound Event Services recommends limiting your planning hours and time for running errands. “ Juggling a full-time job and even navigating the busy schedule of family time can be tough, but breaking up your tasks and setting small weekly planning goals for yourself will keep you from running yourself ragged”
After all, proper rest doesn’t just happen at night. By taking a moment to relax and breathe throughout the day you will keep your body in balance. Don’t let stress build up to the point you’re overwhelmed and lying awake in bed.
4. “Delegate, delegate, delegate!”
Yes, we know it can be hard to let go and let someone else, but for the sake of your insanity, consider delegating tasks.
“I can’t stress this enough- delegate, delegate, delegate. If possible within your budget, hire a wedding planner so he or she can mind the details the week of the celebration. No need to stay up late fretting- you can rest assure (literally!) that you’re in great hands,” Kevin explains.
5. Create a wind-down routine
About an hour before bed start a wind-down routine. Dim the lights, turn off the emails, listen to relaxing music or sounds, meditate etc. If you’re the type of person who gets so in the zone you don’t even realize it’s 2 am – set an alarm to remind you to get ready for bed. Use this routine to show your brain it’s bedtime.
6. Sweat to sleep
Ok, don’t literally do that. Exercise is known to reduce stress, though, and a regular workout routine is proven to help people have higher quality sleep.
7. Try some light stretching
A regular workout routine doesn’t necessarily mean doing Crossfit in a “sweating for the wedding” tank top. A few relaxing yoga poses before bed can help your body get ready for rest. You don’t even need a full sun salutation or headstand – just a few poses for 10 minutes will make a difference,
8. Cut back the caffeine
Obviously, coffee before bed is a no-no for most people to get quality sleep, but did you know caffeine can last in your system between four and eight hours? So that 2 pm coffee fix might still be keeping you alert come bedtime. Enjoy your morning brew but try cutting out that afternoon buzz. (And yes, that means cutting back on the coffee dates with your wedding planner. Opt for smoothies instead!)
9. Put down the pinot
Speaking of buzzes, a glass of wine to unwind after work is fine, but if you’re having a few glasses to make yourself sleepy, you may be doing more damage than you think. Alcohol before bed actually reduces your REM sleep which is when you’re in your deep dreaming – ya know, the part where you’re dreaming of the wedded bliss you will soon be experiencing on your honeymoon somewhere tropical! Losing REM sleep will not only cut back your time with the waves, but it will likely make you drowsier during the day.
10. Set aside the screens
You need your something blue, but trust that it is not the blue light from your mobile screens. This glow tells your brain that it’s daytime, so it should be energizing. Many devices now have a setting for nighttime that reduces this blue glow, but your best bet is to unplug altogether.
Danielle Rothweiler, Founder of Rothweiler Event Design, advises brides to”turn off all electronic devices at 8 pm and stop wedding planning anything. Use this time to decompress and spend time with your fiancé.”
We know it’s hard, but do your best to walk away from social media, email, text messages since they’re all probably adding to the thousands of thoughts shooting through your brain this week anyway.
11. Switch off the Netflix binge
That last rule also goes for television. While some people watch television to wind down, those intriguing cliffhangers can have you staying up way past your bedtime. (Hey, we’ve all been there. Who can turn off Handmaid’s Tale after one episode!?) Try setting the sleep timer so you know when it’s time to stop.
12. Draw yourself a bath
Baths are relaxing and scientifically helpful for a good night’s rest. The warm water increases your body’s core temperature, and when you get out it dramatically drops. This mimics the drop that happens when you sleep and lets your body know you’re ready for bed. Adding scents like lavender and a cup of chamomile tea can add a perfect storm of slumber triggers. Also, if you’ve taken up a high-impact workout routine as part of your wedding prep, add a half cup of Epsom salt to your tub. The magnesium is absorbed into the skin to help with relaxation, and your sore muscles will thank you, too.
13. Put it to paper
If you’re crawling under the covers and still have 1,478 things bouncing around in your head, write them down. Keep a notebook next to your bed where you can write down what you’re thinking and add potential solutions. When your brain feels like you’ve solved the problem, you can let go and get to sleep.
14. Find yourself a confidant
If paper isn’t enough, GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor) of PsychPoint, recommends talking through your anxieties with someone your trust. “This helps calm the mind from the nervous racing thoughts that tend to come up when our head hits the pillow.”
15. Just breathe
Breathing exercises and meditation can calm the brain and body in time for bed. Try counting the seconds you take to breathe in and out, or the breaths themselves. It will put you in a state of relaxation and rest.
Danielle especially recommends meditation. “Even if you are not someone that practices meditation or even believes that it will help, trust me, do this. Take at least 10 minutes each day to completely clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing. This will help you relax for bedtime no matter when you meditate during the day.”
16. Find it in food
If you’re on a special wedding diet, that can help or hurt your sleep. Add some foods high in tryptophan to your diet. You know, that thing your uncle always brings up at Thanksgiving right before he passes out in the recliner. This amino acid is required to create serotonin in your body, which then makes melatonin – an important hormone for sleep.
You can find tryptophan in yogurt, bananas, eggs, and yes, the old trick of some warm milk. You can also add direct sources of melatonin to your diet. “Tart cherry juice has the highest concentration of melatonin out there,” Registered Dietician, Tracy Owens, explains.
17. Create a sleepy environment
Make sure your bed is cozy and comfy. Don’t wedding plan in bed – keep a sacred space for sleep. Change out the sheets with something luxurious, add pillows, turn down the thermostat, use an eye mask, or flip on the white noise machine. Creating a sleepy ambience will bring on a sleepy night.
18. Lose yourself in a book
Many people unwind with a good book in bed. This is a great way to let the body relax, but if you’re someone who worries about the economy and your savings after this big wedding day, maybe don’t read a Suze Orman book to fall asleep. Fiction typically provides an escape to another world far from your wedding worries. Try something light and imaginary to spark some dreams and deep sleep.
19. Pop a supplement
If you’re really struggling to find your sleep, try a restful, natural, supplement to help your body get back on track. A melatonin gummy for example, may help stimulate that hormone to help you get to bed.
20. Try a weighted blanket
Weighted blankets are scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep (two things very common in those about to tie the knot).
SensaCalm, a weighted blanket company based in Chattanooga, TN, says, “When it comes to getting a quality sleep the week of your wedding, one of the most simple, effective things you can try is to add a weighted blanket to your current bedclothes – a natural way to relax if you have high levels of anxiety.”
“We Now Pronounce You Ready to Sleep”
You did it! You’re married! You said hello to every relative (even Aunt Janice in her eggshell dress). You posed for hundreds of photos. You probably ate one crab cake all night, but you did it. Now it’s time for the honeymoon, and we all know getting sleep while traveling is always a cinch, right? Our tips continue here to ensure you find healthy sleep on your honeymoon.
Part II: A Guide to Getting Honeymoon Quality Time and Quality Sleep
21. Wait until Monday
The days of whisking the bride away from the reception straight to the honeymoon are pretty much over. You’ve been through a lot in a few days, so it may be a good idea to keep the bridal suite in your hotel for an extra day to give you and your new spouse time to catch up on sleep before you hop into traveling. We can guarantee you won’t be bored. 😉
22. Stay in the zone
While five days in Paris may sound divine, consider taking a honeymoon in your time zone. You’ve worked hard. Why put yourself through the torture of jet lag if you don’t have to?
23. Establish rest and relaxation time
It’s very important that you don’t go from the high-stress wedding week into an on-the-go honeymoon. You can lay ground rules like no sight-seeing for the first few days or establish certain hours of relaxing and recharge time. This is going to be especially important if you’re going somewhere warmer than you’re used to. Build rest into your schedule. From wrapping yourself in a blanket burrito in your hotel to grabbing a lounge chair on the beach – these are all just as important as that snorkeling trip.
24. Stash the screens
We already established that social media, emails, and texts can be distracting and stressful. Don’t lose sleep over trying to gather all the photos from your wedding hashtag or checking in on your dog (just accept the fact that your mother is feeding her all the things). You’ll want to use your camera, of course, but try to put the phone away as much as possible. You may want to post the perfect mountain selfie, but this trip is more about relaxing and connecting with your brand new spouse.
25. Don’t think you have to be joined at the hip
Your new spouse may be exhausted, but you’re ready to hit the beach. Let that happen. Let them go take a nap while you get some reflection time at the waves. There’s no rule saying you must spend every minute of your honeymoon together. In fact, there are no honeymoon rules at all so make it your own.
Weddings are a memorable, exciting, and beautiful way to celebrate the love you have found in one another. Keep that in mind during the stressful wedding planning. Make you and your love the focus of it all. Knowing you have found a partner to share your life with could be just the comfort you need to sleep soundly.