We would like to thank SleepHelp.org for contributing the following guest post!
As wonderful and exciting as getting married is, it also comes with stress. While you can’t avoid stress, you can develop stress management techniques along with healthy sleep habits to help you take a breath and enjoy this unique time in your life.
The Effects of Wedding Stress
You’ve probably already noticed some of the effects of wedding stress. Symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and appetite changes often stem from stress. These effects only get magnified as they start to interfere with your ability to sleep.
Stress and poor sleep quality and quantity go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, lack of sleep tends to cause an increase in stress because the part of your brain responsible for processing emotions becomes more sensitive to negative thoughts when you’re tired. At the same time, the part of your brain that applies logic and reasoning to your emotions becomes less active.
That’s means that when you’re dealing with last-minute wedding changes, you’re far more likely to have an overly emotional response, increasing your stress. The cycle continues because as you become more stressed, it becomes increasingly harder to sleep at night. Before you know it, stress and sleep loss can make it hard for you to pay attention at work or interfere with your relationship with your fiancé.
Stress Management and Healthy Sleep Habits
The good thing about stress management skills and healthy sleep habits are that they can benefit you long after your wedding day. Some stress management skills can also improve the quality of your sleep such as:
Regular Exercise: Exercise relieves tension in the muscles and causes the release of endorphins. It also helps your body feel more tired at night, making it easier to fall asleep. However, strenuous exercise done within four hours of your bedtime could keep you awake so keep it light if you’re an evening exerciser. Sneaking a quick run or walk in before your rehearsal dinner may work well.
Meditation: Practicing meditation long-term has been shown to thicken the reasoning portion of the brain while strengthening its connection to your brain’s emotional center. Consequently, you’re less likely to be overcome by negative emotions (or the stress of events like a wedding).
If you still struggle to sleep, check to make sure there’s nothing in your bedroom that’s preventing a good night’s rest. For example, a bedroom that’s fully devoted to sleep, not doubling as an office or home gym, can help the brain relax and release sleep hormones. Also, consider the condition of your mattress, which is likely a traditional innerspring mattress. Options such as latex and memory foam now are available, giving you a selection of mattresses that should support your height, weight, and preferred sleep style. Your bed should also be free of DIY wedding projects and your work laptop, so you can focus on sleeping.
You can create optimal sleep conditions for both mind and body:
A Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule: Circadian rhythms are the biological cycles that tell your body when to feel sleepy or awake. You align those rhythms to your schedule when you’re consistent. If you’ve been consistently going to bed at 10 PM, you should feel sleepy at 10 AM even the night before your wedding.
Avoiding Stimulants: Avoid the caffeine found in soda, energy drinks, and coffee for the four hours before bedtime. Stimulants like caffeine temporarily block sleep hormones. Try serving only decaf at your rehearsal dinner or plan it earlier in the night.
Turn Off Your Screens: Whether you’re scrolling through social media or late-night binge-watching Netflix, the bright light given off by some electronics can suppress sleep hormones. Try shutting them off at least 2 to 3 hours before bed. Reading a book before bed may be a better way to relax on the night before your wedding.
With a plan to manage stress and sleep high on your priority list, you’ll be able to enjoy the days leading to your wedding and keep your life in balance.