Sleep Diary (A complete guide)

Sleep Diary

A sleep diary is used for improving sleep. In this blog, you will be told about what a sleep diary actually is, its importance and applications.

So sit back and get ready to acknowledge interesting facts about sleep and how a sleep diary can help you improve your sleeping habits. 

What is a Sleep Diary? 

Getting adequate amounts of sleep per day is very essential for ensuring good health, overall well-being (emotional, mental and physical ) and contentment.

Having sufficient sleep makes you feel fresh, good and better.

A sleep diary is a way of ensuring that you are getting enough sleep and if not, it helps you improve your sleep by letting you keep a track of your sleep hours. 

Recognizing your sleep hours, sleep patterns and sleep habits can aid in identifying the faults in your routine so you can work on them and stay healthy.

A sleep diary also helps treat sleep disorders like insomnia and hypersomnia. 

Sleep Diary (A complete guide)

How to Create My Own Sleep Diary? 

You can make your own sleep diary by making eight columns and in each column mentioning:

  • The time when you went to bed and the time when you woke up
  • Total sleep hours and how well did you sleep
  • How many times you work up at night during your sleep 
  • The time and amount of caffeine or alcohol consumed by you 
  • Your diet including the name of thing and time when you ate or drank it
  • Emotions experienced by you including the things that stress you
  • The name of drugs and medicines taken by you 
  • When and what exercises you did in the daytime

Keeping a Sleep Diary

A diary is written to record the happenings of a day. Similarly, a sleep diary aims to help you keep a track of your sleep-wake cycle and some details related to it, such as those mentioned above.

This sleep diary is to be filled for some weeks by yourself or your guardian. 

A sleep diary, also known as a sleep log, is used by the health practitioners, therapists and the clients to record their sleep for treating sleep disorders especially circadian rhythm sleep disorders, by identifying faulty sleep patterns and habits to improve sleep.

Other than this, a sleep diary is also useful for medical professionals for helping individuals to keep a track of their sleep habits, patterns and work on improving them by themselves. 

Sleep Diary (A complete guide)

Why Should You Keep A Sleep Diary?

A sleep dry must be kept for the following major reasons, 

1. It Will Give You a Better Idea of Your Sleep Patterns and Habits

Sleep disorders are very common in today’s time. Often people think they experience sleep disorder due to the trouble they face while sleeping.

This is not necessarily true. Sleep disorders can also be a result of unhealthy sleep habits. Intake of high amounts of alcohol or caffeine before going to bed can affect your sleep.

People who have unhealthy sleep habits are diagnosed with insufficient sleep syndrome.

This is due to the problems they face while falling asleep because of the adverse effects of unhealthy eating and sleep habits they have.

You can work on your sleep by keeping a sleep diary.

A sleep diary helps you keep a track of your sleeping habits, patterns, and behaviors so you can easily identify the unhealthy diet and conducts that are affecting your sleep, work on them and improve your sleep. 

Recognizing the pattern of your sleep and your unhealthy behaviors can aid you to change your habits and observe their effect over the period of a week.

If your sleep is improved it means the new habits are good for your sleep and well-being.

If not, you can alter the habits again until you discern a noticeable, positive change in your sleep patterns.

2. You Will Get Proactive About Your Sleep

Having a sleep diary will aid you in identifying the effect of sleep in your daily life activities.

This will help you recognize the importance of sleep and you will work on promoting your sleep habits willingly and with full determination.

Your sleep diary will enable you to focus on the effects of your unhealthy diet such as the consumption of caffeine and alcohol, and harmful sleep patterns such as using mobile phones in bed before going to sleep.

You will be able to notice the impact of these things on your sleep and normal functioning and thus you will feel motivated to change your habits such as by replacing caffeinated drinks with chamomile tea, tart cherry juice, almond milk etcetera to help you improve your sleep. 

A sleep diary would also help you keep a track of the drinks you took before going to bed and whether they were helpful for you in sleeping or they disturb your sleep, making you wake up weary and tired. 

A sleep diary would help you identify the impact of doing exercise or work out on your sleep.

You will observe physical activity has improved your sleep and this would encourage you to continue these healthy habits.

Thus, keeping a track of your sleep habits and patterns would help you identify which behaviors you need to skip, which ones you need to modify and which ones you need to enhance, to help you promote your sleep.

3. It Can Help Your Doctor Give You A Proper Diagnosis

A sleep diary helps you modify your unhealthy behaviors that are interrupting your good, sufficient and healthy sleep.

If you still feel your altered behaviors are not helpful for you in improving your sleep, you can consult your physician, a therapist or a sleep specialist. Oftentimes doctors fail to identify the real cause of sleep disorders.

Most of the time the women with sleep apnea are diagnosed with insomnia. This could be due to various reasons.

One reason for this misdiagnosis is that the doctor is not a sleep specialist, he has a preconception about the way sleep apnea patients look like: middle-aged, overweight male with less than 17 inches neck.

Sleep apnea diagnosed women are not as severe as men and their snoring is also lighter as compared to that of men with tricky breathing cessations and short-living apnea events.

In addition to it, the men are also less observant about their partner’s sleep habits since women rarely acknowledge they are having breathing issues at night.   

Another reason for this misdiagnosis is misreporting on the part of the patient. Patients may inform their doctor about other symptoms that are causes of insomnia rather than any other sleep disorder.

The most common symptoms told by patients include fatigue, mood fluctuations and problems in falling asleep. 

A sleep diary can help the doctor identify the correct sleep disorder so he can give the treatment according to it. 

4. You Can Monitor the Effectiveness of Your Treatment

Misguidance on the part of the doctor can also make him diagnose individuals with sleep apnea and recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy as a treatment.

This therapy often seems troublesome for the patients and they discontinue taking the therapy due to the inability to tolerate the air pressure. 

Continuous use of a sleep diary even during the treatment can help you identify the effectiveness of the treatment.

If the treatment is bringing a change in your sleep pattern in a positive way, that means it is effective, this would motivate you to continue taking the treatment and if it is not producing fruitful results then you can consult your doctor again.  

Sleep Diary (A complete guide)

Sleep Diaries 

Now you are aware of the usefulness and the importance of a sleep diary.

You can make your own sleep diary or download the ones available on the internet.

Some recommended sleep diaries you can use for tracking your sleep and working on improving are mentioned here.

National sleep foundation provides you with a very effective sleep diary that you get from here.

Daily sleep diary and two-week sleep diary are two more great diaries that can help you record your sleeping patterns and habits. 

Sleep Diary (A complete guide)

Helpful Resources 

A very useful amazon tool, a sleep diary can be downloaded for free from Amazon.

You can search it with this name:

  • Sleep Diary | Stars Paperback by Golding Notebooks (2018)

We recommend you to read the following books to help you deal with your sleep issues: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question. What is the purpose of using a sleep diary?

Answer. A sleep diary helps keep track of your sleep patterns and habits so you can recognize healthy and unhealthy behaviors and modify them accordingly.

It is also helpful for your doctor to give you interventions and treatments on the basis of your sleep routines and habits.

Question. How can you improve sleep?

Answer. Some ways to help you improve your sleep include keeping your bedroom quiet and dark at night while sleeping, spending sufficient time in daylight to take necessary vitamins for staying healthy, avoid doing anything other than sleeping in the bedroom such as watching television, having meals etcetera must be avoided in bedrooms, try to make it a habit of sleeping and waking up on specific times.  

Question. What should you fill in the Sleep journal with?

Answer. In a sleep journal or a sleep diary, you need to mention the time when you went to bed and the time when you woke up, total sleep hours and how well did you sleep, how many times you work up at night during your sleep, the time and amount of caffeine or alcohol consumed by you, your diet including the name of the thing and time when you ate or drank it, emotions experienced by you including the things that stress you, the name of drugs and medicines taken by you and when and what exercises you did in the daytime

Question. What is the study of sleep called?

Answer. The study of sleep is known as polysomnography.

It helps record the waves of the brain, the level of oxygen, rate of respiration and eye and movement to identify your quality of sleep.

Question. How much sleep do I need?

Answer. The requirements of sleep vary from one person to another.

Healthy adults require at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.

Children and teens require most hours of sleep to function optimally.

Although sleep needs reduce with the increase in age, older people require at least 7 hours of sleep per day. 

This blog aimed to increase your awareness of the importance of a sleep diary.

It helps you acknowledge the benefits of keeping a sleep diary and how it can help you in improving your sleep and wake cycle effectively.

Some effective sleep diaries and good books to read about sleeping habits are also recommended for you.

If you have any questions or queries, let us know through your comments. 

References 

Sleep diary- Wikipedia

What is a Sleep Diary? 4 Reasons You Should Keep A Sleep Diary by Jennifer Hines 2018 

Unsplash images 

Sleep Diary (A complete guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.