What is a Sleep Dairy?

Not getting enough sleep can severely impact your health, as it compromises your body’s ability to recharge and repair itself. Sleep deprivation will inevitably lead to various health issues like depression, obesity, and heart disease while making you feel exhausted all the time.  

If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, you’ll have difficulty performing at school or work, struggle with memory issues, battle brain fog, and have a weakened immune system, leaving you more likely to get sick.  

Although sleeping well at night is enough to address and prevent these problems, it can be challenging to figure out why you’re having a hard time falling or staying asleep in the first place. However, keeping a sleep diary can help you track sleep, keep an eye on sleep habits, write down problems you encounter, and learn how to get to sleep quickly. It will also help medical professionals prescribe effective treatment to address your sleeplessness since you have a written record of what happens when you try to get some shut-eye. 

What is a Sleep Diary? 

A sleep diary contains information about your sleeping habits. They often include details about the times you wake up and go to bed, how long it takes for you to fall asleep, how often your sleep is interrupted, how often you nap during the day, and your perceived sleep quality. It’s also helpful in tracking your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, which are known to stimulate you and keep you awake. 

You can also use your sleep diary to log information about your daily medication and exercise, which both play a role in how well you sleep at night. Sometimes, sleep diaries are called sleep logs or sleep journals, although sleep diaries are often considered to be more thorough and detailed than a sleep log. 

How Can a Sleep Diary Help You Feel Better? 

A sleep diary is a valuable tool that will help you assess the quality of your sleep. Doctors usually request patients to keep a sleep diary to help them track their sleep, although some choose to maintain one regardless. 

Keeping a sleep diary allows you to calculate your total sleep time, helping you identify sleep disruptions or other factors that affect your sleep quality. It also highlights habits that affect your sleep by revealing patterns that may explain sleep problems, helping healthcare providers recommend more effective sleep training methods. Additionally, a sleep diary with detailed entries is more reliable and usable than a patient’s vague recollection of their sleep habits. 

How Do You Keep a Sleep Diary? 

Keeping a sleep diary is pretty simple. All you have to do is write in it every day and fill it with as much detail as possible. Some sleep dairies have special sections meant to be completed in the morning and evening. 

Faithfully updating your diary will help you avoid gaps in your memory and prevent you from struggling to remember how you felt at a particular time. For this reason, it’s best to have your sleep diary and pen within arm’s reach of your bed, making it easier to fill out before you sleep and when you wake up. 

If you’re currently seeing a doctor, they may ask you to fill it out according to a specific format. They may also ask you to track your sleep for at least a week, although you’ll enjoy better results by keeping a sleep diary for several weeks. 

What Can You Put in a Sleep Diary? 

There are many things you can include in your sleep diary. You can evaluate your sleep environment, which plays a crucial role in finding the best way to sleep. For instance, many recently switched to a work-from-home setup have converted their bedroom into a makeshift office, which has unknowingly affected their sleep.

Ideally, your bedroom is a designated place for relaxation. Doing activities in this space that require careful attention, such as working, may cause your brain to be in ‘work mode’ even when you’re trying to wind down for the night. 

An ideal sleep environment involves a comfortable temperature of 15 to 21ºC and blackout curtains or a sleep mask to keep your room dark once the sun rises. If you live in a noisy area, consider using earplugs or other kinds of noise-cancelling devices to enjoy a quiet, peaceful environment.

It’s also best to clean your sheets and blankets regularly to keep them germ-free while ensuring your comfort as you sleep. You can also take it a step further by using a diffuser or incense to add a soothing, relaxing scent to your room. 

You can also keep a checklist of questions to help you determine the kind of sleep you’re getting. Here are a few examples to try: 

  • Am I allocating enough time for sleep? 
  • Am I spending a lot of time lying in bed without actually falling asleep? 
  • Do I keep a consistent sleep schedule, or do I find myself constantly adjusting it? 
  • Is my sleep satisfying, or do I wake up tired? 
  • Do I take naps that are too long or too late in the day? 

Is a Sleep Diary Better Than Other Ways of Tracking Sleep? 

Sleep diaries are one of the many methods you can use to track your sleep. Some doctors recommend actigraphy, a special device patients wear on the wrist to monitor movement like sleep. Doctors use it to investigate a sleep problem since it presents objective data, giving it an edge over a sleep diary.

However, the results from actigraphy and sleep diaries are often similar; sometimes, doctors recommend using both to obtain a subjective and objective evaluation of sleep. Still, sleep diaries can be more beneficial over actigraphy because it is much more accessible. 

Another popular option is wearable activity trackers, mobile phone apps, or other consumer sleep trackers that provide you with data about your sleep. They often use the same technology as actigraphy to compute your total sleep time. It’s important to note that they haven’t been thoroughly tested to guarantee their accuracy. 

Despite these higher-tech options, sleep diaries win due to their simplicity and affordability. They also offer broader insight into sleeping habits that help doctors uncover the underlying sleep problem and recommend more effective sleep training methods to address it. 

Conclusion 

Keeping a sleep diary can help you identify what has prevented you from getting a good night’s rest, allowing you to figure out how to get to sleep quickly. When your body has ample time to rest and mend itself, it will perform its functions better, leaving you healthier and happier. 

Sleep Science by EMMA prides itself in being a sleep expert and sleep companion to anyone wanting to learn the best way to sleep. We hope to improve how the world sleeps one night at a time by providing everyone with verified information about various sleep topics backed by science. Learn more by browsing our other articles today!