Why you should have a sleep diary
Keep and use a diary to help understand your sleep patterns and problems. You may find it challenging to work out what is affecting your sleep, but a sleep diary can help achieve a good nights sleep. Sleep diaries allow you to count the hours you sleep and any disturbances throughout your night. A sleep diary involves recording information about your sleep habits.
Information to keep in a sleep diary
Some of the information that can be kept in a sleep diary includes:
- The time that you went to bed and woke up.
- A total number of hours of sleep.
- Overall rating of sleep quality. A scale between 1-5 can be helpful.
- How many times you woke in the night, what do you do whilst awake and how long you are awake.
- Whether you had any nightmares, night terrors, sleep paralysis or sleepwalking during the night.
- Whether you slept during the day, and if so, for how long?
- Any medication you may be on, including dosage and time of taking the medication.
- The amount of caffeine, alcohol or nicotine you have in a day
- The amount of physical activity you do.
- What you eat or drink.
- Your general feelings and moods, including any anxious or repetitive thoughts
Example of a sleep diary
An example of a sleep diary is below; You can record this any way you feel best suited to you. This example is in a table style, but writing these things down in a physical diary works as well.
|I went to bed at
|I woke at
|Sleep rating (1-5)
||Once, for 10 mins, toilet.
||Twice for the toilet, 10 mins each time.
||Awake on the phone for 1 hour at 3 am
||Twice for the toilet. 10 mins each time
|Total hours of sleep
||9 Hours 45 mins
||7 hours, 45 mins
||6 hours 40 mins
|Notes: I Will leave the phone away from the bed. Eight hours is enough sleep for me. Over 9 hours was too much sleep for me. Felt exhausted when I woke up—fewer fluids before bed to minimise waking up.
Remember to keep a sleep diary when going to bed and keeping your daily routines as normal as possible. It will help you identify any issues in your day-to-day routine and allow you to be aware of the areas that need work to help you get better sleep.
For those visiting a doctor about their sleep problems, a sleep diary will help your doctor best understand your routine and disturbances. It can help your doctor identify the problem and give you the help and advice needed. A sleep diary will be more reliable for a doctor than just asking you to recall each night sleep many days or weeks later.
Keeping a good sleep diary routine
Remember to update your diary each morning; the sooner you record everything in the sleep diary, the more accurate the information is.
Getting in a morning routine to fill in the diary will help avoid gaps, giving a more informative diary.
Sleep diaries are a small effort to keep and an even smaller cost to maintain, but the reward can be huge, the key to help you find your best night’s sleep.