Writing a ‘sleep diary’ is a good way to focus on your sleep hygiene, and if you’re experiencing a sleeping problem or disorder it could be the beginning of finding a solution.
Although it’s called a sleep diary, and is of course aimed at detailing your sleeping patterns, your notes should also contain information about certain parts of the day such as your diet and energy levels, as these factors play a role in determining your sleep quality.
It’s very easy to forget minor details of your day or night, especially if you’re suffering the memory draining effects of sleep deprivation, and some of these seemingly inconsequential factors may turn out to be important in the diagnosis or treatment of a sleep disorder. Writing a sleep diary ensures that you’ll remember these details.
An easy way to write a sleep diary that covers all of the relevant information is to divide it up into the various parts of the day. Your sleep diary doesn’t need to be extensive, just a series of simple notes designed to log details of your daily activities and experiences.
Here’s an example of a sleep diary and what it should contain;
• Your wake-up time.
• What you had for breakfast, including drinks.
• How long it took to feel suitably ‘awake’.
• Your morning activity.
Midday and Afternoon
• What you had for lunch, including drinks, plus any snacks.
• The time you felt a drop in energy.
• Your midday and afternoon activity.
• What you had for your evening meal, including drinks.
• Your evening activity.
• Your bedtime.
• The approximate time it took to go to sleep.
During the night
• Details of any awakenings, including where possible the reasoning (for instance, noise or light pollution), and the approximate length of time you stayed awake with each incident.
As well as these chronological details, be sure to note down any medications that you’re taking and other notable health conditions you are experiencing, as these could also be pivotal to your sleep quality.
A reasonably detailed sleep diary containing this type of information written over a period of a week or more will be able to provide a GP or health professional with a valuable insight into your sleep hygiene, and will help them to diagnose a possible sleep disorder, or at least advise on lifestyle or dietary changes that could produce a positive change.