How a Sleep Diary Can Improve Your Sleep

sleep diary

THE BOTTOM LINE

  • A sleep diary is a journal that is focused on sleep-related information

  • It can help identify factors that are causing bad sleep

  • It will keep track of nighttime and daytime activities and how they contribute to your sleep quality

If you’re having sleep problems and you can’t seem to pinpoint exactly what is causing your sleep disturbances or poor sleep quality, this article might be helpful to you! Introducing a sleep diary into your life may help you to identify unhealthy sleep patterns or daytime activities that may be negatively impacting your sleep!

What is a sleep diary?

Think of it as you would any other diary or journal. Just instead of journaling about your overall life, you will focus this diary on sleep-related information each day. Try not to stress about it and just use it in whatever way feels most natural and easy.

You can choose freestyle writing if that works best for you, but you may want to download a sleep diary template that can help you quickly and easily identify and track sleep-related activities. You can even free-style your thoughts into a journal and then transfer the necessary information later into the sleep diary template! Seriously, choose whatever route you think will be the easiest for you.

How does keeping a sleep diary help me sleep?

It can make it easier for you to identify the cause of your sleep problems by:

  • It can give you insight into how your daytime activities can impact your sleep

  • It can help you identify patterns in your sleep activity over a longer period of time (a week or two)

  • It allows you to evaluate your sleep quality by comparing your total sleep time vs. your total time spent in bed

How should I use my sleep diary?

The short answer is consistently.

  • Fill out your sleep diary as close to the same time every day – make it a part of your morning and bedtime routine (you know how much we love routines to help with sleep!)

  • Alternatively, if you’d like to just use your sleep diary once a day, you can fill out your full-day (AM & PM) information in the morning

  • You may opt to keep notes during the day of the timing of certain activities to make sure your sleep diary is precise and accurate.

What activities will my sleep diary track?

Some information is absolutely crucial to include if you want to get an idea of your sleep quality and what may be causing your sleep problems. Really, you should include as much information as possible if you want to most accurate depiction, but try not to stress over it. Any information is going to be helpful and you’ll get better as you go!

Important information to include:

NIGHT INFORMATION
  • Time you got into bed

  • Time you closed your eyes and tried to fall asleep

  • Time you fell asleep (or approx. how long it took you to fall asleep)

  • Time you woke up in the morning

  • Time you got out of bed in the morning

  • How many times you woke up through the night

  • Total amount of time you spent awake though the night

  • How refreshed you feel in the AM (how you interpret your sleep quality)

DAYTIME INFORMATION
  • Caffeine intake: time and amount

  • Alcohol intake: time and amount

  • OTC or prescriptions meds

  • Snacks before bed

  • Excercise: time + mild vs moderate vs intense

  • Screen time

  • Naps: time and how long

Other helpful information to include in your sleep diary, but is not necessary:

  • What type of day is it? Workday, weekend (or work-free day), vacation, special occasion

  • Mood during the day & mood before bed

  • How sleepy you feel during the day

  • Bedtime routine 1 hour before bed, activities leading to bedtime

We know that it can be difficult to track how many times you’ve woken up through the night, not to mention how much time you spend awake each time, I mean you are likely feeling “half-asleep” during this time. Sleep trackers may be helpful to give you a more precise and accurate idea of the amount of time you spend awake through the night. You don’t need sleep trackers to track your sleep, though. Approximate numbers are very helpful, too. Learn more about measuring your slumber with sleep trackers.

If it ends up causing you extra stress, maybe a sleep diary isn’t for you. We want to help you sleep better, not cause you more stress so if after 2 weeks you’re not finding it very helpful, ditch the diary and try another method!

RESTED HEALTH SLEEP DIARY

Click here for our complimentary template

To use:

  • Hit the link

  • Select “file”

  • Select “make a copy”

  • Choose the name you want and where to save it

  • Complete it either online or print out a copy to use at home!

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