Sleep: it’s free. And we all want more of it, so why is it so hard to get? Specifically – that consistent, restorative, uninterrupted, eight-hours-a-night kinda sleep. Which is why we’ve enlisted Sydney-based sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo to solve our myriad of sleep concerns with our Sleep Well Wednesdays series. Check back every fortnight and you’ll be off to the land of nod before you know it.
How to get a good night’s sleep before a big event? It’s something that I have no doubt, at some point, has crossed your mind.
You may be laying there, mind running at a thousand miles an hour, thinking: seriously, how do I get to sleep tonight? I have my wedding / huge meeting / exam tomorrow?
And in a panic stricken state, you’ve jumped online, scrolled a thousand articles, read a heap of conflicting advice and become even more anxious in the process.
If that’s you, don’t worry, I’ve got you. Here’s 7 steps to getting a good nights sleep before a big event.
1. Don’t delay your bedtime routine
While it’s tempting to procrastinate and finish last minute matters before your big event, and this may ‘feel’ like it’s putting your mind at ease and help you sleep better, the reverse is actually true.
Rather, you need to stick to your bedtime routine as you normally would, adding the tweaks recommended here, of course. The thing is that if you allow yourself to sway too far from your bedtime processes, there is often no end point, so you’ll end up staying up far later than you usually would.
2. Take a mineral bath
As part of my recommended bedtime routine, I advise a shower. However, before a big event, I actually recommend a bath: a 2018 study by ONSEN Medical Science Research Center, Japan, found that anxiety scores were significantly lower for those who took a bath, compared to those who took a shower.
3. Lavish yourself with lavender
No list of anti-anxiety bedtime activities would be complete without lavender. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping us feel more relaxed in mind and body.
Ideally, sip a lavender infused tea, dab lavender infused oil on your pulse points, and light a lavender candle, as found in Melbourne made, eco-friendly brand The Sleep Boss’ Restore luxury gift set, which offers lavender infused other sleep friendly essential oils, such as sweet orange oil and ylang ylang.
4. Avoid social media
Scrolling through Instagram may feel like the perfect distraction from your busy mind, but it actually makes things worse.
As noted in a 2012 study, using a phone in the hour before bed increased the likelihood of taking over an hour to fall asleep by 48%.
Similarly, a 2017 study by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that using social media in the 30 minutes prior to bed increases your likelihood of disturbed sleep by a whopping 62%.
5. Supplement up
Rounding out the ways to sleep better before a big event comes sleep supplements. And while you may already be taking magnesium for sleep, another sleep supplement to help you sleep better, surprisingly, is collagen.
Usually touted for its benefits for skin, hair and nails, glycine (the main amino acid in some collagen powder) can help individuals fall asleep faster, sleep deeper and wake up less through the night, as noted in a 2016 study by Jikei University School of Medicine.
You can find the same amount of glycine as used in the study mentioned (3g) online in The Collagen Co’s collagen powder, or potentially at your local pharmacy.
6. Set up a soothing space
After the unwind time above, move into your bedroom and create a sleep sanctuary. Not only do you need it to be dark and quiet, for your best night’s sleep, you also need to remove objects related to work – laptop, notepads and any folders.
Though you may not realise, seeing these objects subconsciously triggers stress, because work is typically stressful. The night before your big event, this is definitely what you do not want.
7. Use a weighted blanket
And lastly, when you dive into bed, make sure you have a weighted blanket. Initially designed for anxiety-prone kids with autism, weighted blankets provide deep tissue stimulation, which can reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
As noted in my book, Bear, Lion, Wolf, a 2018 study by the University of Massachusetts found that 68% of users felt less anxious when using a weighted blanket. While there are many options available, standouts include Zeek, with sewn glass beads and a different weight to fit your frame, and the 100% cooling cotton weighted blanket from Baloo.