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. Alternatively, you can free-style your thoughts into a journal and then transfer the necessary information later into the sleep diary template! Above all, think about whatever route you think will be the easiest for you and choose that one.
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:
Giving you insight into how your daytime activities can impact your sleep
Helping you identify patterns in your sleep activity over a longer period of time (a week or two)
Allowing 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:
You should include the times you:
Got into bed
Closed your eyes and tried to fall asleep
Fell asleep (or approx. how long it took you to fall asleep)
Woke up in the morning
Got out of bed in the morning
You should also include:
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)
Caffeine intake: time and amount
Alcohol intake: time and amount
OTC or prescriptions meds
Snacks before bed
Excercise: time + mild vs moderate vs intense
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
Hit the link
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!