Beauty sleep isn't just a myth. It affects your long-term health and energy levels, but also has an impact on your physical appearance – probably one of the most important concerns for brides-to-be before their big day.
During sleep, the body goes into "repair" mode. It does this by producing growth hormones, which help to rebuild damaged cells, including those of the skin, hair and nails. So the more sleep we get, the longer our bodies can continue with this repairing, restoring and rebalancing process.
For brides-to-be this can be a challenge as the wedding day looms closer and closer, turning nerves and stress into restless nights.
Read on for ten ways to get the right amount of sleep before your wedding, as recommended by bed specialist Dreams...
1) Say no to the champers
Although many people claim alcohol helps them to fall asleep more quickly, it actually reduces REM sleep. This is the phase of sleep associated with deep dreaming. Losing out on REM sleep can cause drowsiness when awake, so it's best to avoid it altogether during the run-up to the wedding. Swap alcohol for herbal teas and non-caffeinated soft drinks, which will also help with hydration.
2) Avoid coffee and other stimulants
Caffeine is obviously well known for keeping people awake, but many other snacks and drinks also contain caffeine, such as chocolate, tea and cola drinks. It's best to steer clear of food and drinks containing stimulants, or make sure they are consumed early in the day, as even in moderate doses, they can block sleep neurotransmitters, causing insomnia.
3) Light exercise
Although time is always tight in the weeks building up to the wedding, the bride should allow herself some light exercise every day. She should avoid too much strenuous activity late in the day, however, as this is more likely to cause her to wake in the night.
4) Eat foods that contain tryptophan
If the bride feels she needs an energy boost, it is best to snack on foods that contain tryptophan. This is an amino acid, which is required for the production of serotonin in the body, which in turn produces melatonin – a hormone that helps with sleep. Yoghurt, bananas, milk and eggs are all high in tryptophan. Other foods that improve your sleep quality include toast, porridge, oily fish, carrots, squash, tomatoes, rice and cherry juice.
5) Put that phone away
Although the days before a wedding can be frantic with so much to do and people to contact, brides should try to avoid using their smartphone, tablet or laptop late at night. Gadgets like this emit blue light, which is said to delay the production of melatonin, so keeping the body awake.
6) Turn off the TV
An estimated 38 per cent of people watch television to wind down before they sleep. However, this can actually harm the sleep cycle, as watching TV before bedtime encourages you to stay up later than you would naturally.
7) Listen to sounds that aid sleep
If the bride is anxious and is finding it particularly difficult to get to sleep at night, she could try one of several devices and apps available that generate white noise, such as White Noise Ambience Lite. White noise devices work two ways: by blocking distracting noises, and by producing soothing sounds that are relaxing and help to induce sleep.
8) Consider sleeping with lighter clothing
It's always tempting to wrap up in cosy pyjamas on cooler nights, but going to bed with fewer clothes on can have several benefits. Studies have shown that having the wrong body temperature at night can stop the dozing-off process. Not allowing the body to regulate its temperature (by wearing thick clothing, for example) can also prevent people from reaching the deeper stages of sleep.
9) Turn the bed into a sleep haven
Don't compromise on comfort. The bride should ensure her bed is as comfortable as possible – even if it is just to change the bed linen for something luxurious, or swap a thick duvet for clean, cotton sheets to ensure she has a cool and calm night's sleep before the wedding.
10) Try an alternative sleeping cycle
If planning the wedding several months in advance, there is time for the bride to consider changing her sleeping cycle altogether. The Dreams Sleep Matters Club offers four alternative sleeping cycles as an alternative to the common Monophasic cycle that most people practice: Biphasic, Everyman, Dymaxion and Uberman.
How many hours sleep did you get the night before your wedding? Leave your comments below.