Marlee Boyle, Sleep Therapist on Cyno
Before any big day, whether it’s your wedding, important test, or job interview, the advice you will invariably receive is “get a good night’s sleep". And it’s great advice! Nothing will make you feel like you can take on the world more than a solid 8 hours of refreshing slumber. I think most people can agree that being well rested improves the experience of just about everything. Feeling stressed, excited, or anxious the night before any major event is as common as the advice itself. While the customary offering of this recommendation is well-intended, the catch is: how do we actually get a good night’s sleep the night before a big day? Here are 7 tips to get you started.
#1 Prioritize Sleep
Every. Single. Day. Sleep is the foundation of our health. Every aspect of our health & almost every known disease process has been linked to sleep. Carve out an 8-hour opportunity for sleep every single day & give your body the rest it needs to thrive! The best prevention against a poor night’s sleep is routinely practicing healthy sleep habits. The most effective strategy is to prioritize sleep each day so you’re not trying to fix your sleep the night before an important event.
#2 Don't Sleep in
Maintaining a consistent bedtime & wake time helps keep your body's internal clock in sync. It's especially important to wake up at the same time every day to function optimally with your natural biological rhythm. Keeping a regular sleep/wake routine reinforces that rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep even when nerves are anticipating an important day.
#3 Limit alcohol and caffeine
Caffeine takes several hours to metabolize so multiple servings in a day could be impacting your sleep. You should avoid caffeine 8-12 hours before bedtime & avoid it completely if caffeine increases your anxiety. If you’re feeling anxious, refrain from using alcohol to take the edge off. Although a cocktail or glass of wine might make you feel sleepy, it actually acts more like a sedative & will disrupt your sleep cycle throughout the night. The result: you will not get adequate rest & will most likely feel groggy in the morning.
#4 Worry Early
Schedule a dedicated time to deliberately worry & think through the concerns that could pop into your head as it hits the pillow. Embracing this practice by keeping a journal can help teach your brain that there is a time to worry, but it’s not bedtime.
#5 Get exercise and get outside
As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise per day has been proven to improve sleep, so break a sweat! Exercise also reduces stress & if you can do it outside, you’ll get the added benefit of natural light exposure too, further strengthening your circadian rhythm.
Practicing relaxation techniques is a powerful tool which counteracts the effects of stress & anxiety that can rob us of sleep. Regular practice of eliciting a relaxation response at bedtime reduces the time it takes to fall asleep. Studies show taking a hot bath or shower 90 minutes before bed can help you relax & regulate body temperature in order to fall asleep quicker
#7 Seek professional help
If you’re struggling with sleep on a regular basis, you might have a more serious sleep disorder. Speak with a sleep professional to learn more about what could be robbing you of a good night’s sleep