You might have expected jitters before your wedding, but you may not have counted on sleep deprivation, too. Lack of sleep can make you feel awful, interfere with your personal relationships, and destroy decision-making abilities. Anytime you get less than seven hours of sleep, the emotional center of your brain becomes oversensitive to negative thoughts and emotions. At the same time, the brain’s logic center slows down and doesn’t keep your emotional responses in check. That means you’re more likely to experience outbursts and more stress, which continues the cycle of stress and sleep loss.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some of our favorite ways of relieving stress and anxiety for better sleep.
Work Meditation Into Your Schedule
Meditation has impressive healing powers that science is only beginning to understand. Certain methods like mindfulness meditation can trigger the body’s relaxation response, which lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. Prolonged practice can strengthen the connection between the brain’s emotion and logic centers, providing an opportunity for reason to stay in control of your emotions.
It can help in as little as 10 to 15 minutes of daily meditation. Use it as part of your nightly routine or focus your day with a short morning session.
Hit the Trail (or Yoga Mat)
We can’t stress enough the benefits of regular exercise. It’s great for your cardiovascular system, muscles, and bones. In fact, it’s hard to find a part of your body that doesn’t benefit from exercise. Then it’s no surprise that it’s also great for relieving stress. Exercise naturally releases feel-good endorphins throughout your body, which can counteract negative thoughts and feelings.
Any exercise no matter how intense is a good idea. However, for an extra stress-relieving boost, try yoga, which has been shown to reduce the number of stress proteins in the body, as part of your bedtime routine. Of course, we’re not talking about the kind of yoga that leaves your muscles shaking but calm, restful poses. Simple poses like child’s pose and legs up the wall pose that calm the mind and body are perfect for stretching tense muscles while soothing the mind before bed.
Plan Pre-Wedding Events with Sleep in Mind
As you’ve probably already realized, there are more events to plan than the wedding itself. Traditional weddings usually have a rehearsal dinner the night before. If that’s you, try to plan the dinner in the late afternoon or early evening so you can greet all your guests but still have time to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep. Your guests might not mind either, especially aging grandparents or parents with young children, as the next day will be long for them, too. You may even want to consider a wedding breakfast if you’ve planned an evening wedding.
Finally, establish a regular bedtime and bedtime routine. Hopefully, you’ve already got one in place, but if you don’t, now is the time. The predictability helps your brain adjust the release of sleep hormones to match your preferred schedule. Consistency also strengthens your body’s response to those hormones.
Bedtime routines are a great place for that meditation and yoga we already talked about. Any relaxing activity can be included in the routine, but be sure to start at the same time and perform each activity in the same order. Your body and brain with thank you.
Jitters shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying the days and weeks before your wedding. Take a breath, meditate, do some yoga, and build memories with your family and finance that will last a lifetime.
Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.