Keeping A Sleep Journal
So you want to keep track of your sleeping habits. A sleep journal, or sleep diary, is a great way to do this. It can give you a snapshot of what your current sleeping habits are and what could potentially be affecting your sleep.
However, it can be difficult to get started. One question that often comes up when starting a sleep journal is… What is important to keep track of? We are going to go through all of the different aspects of your daily life to note. As well as a few tips on how to stay on track with your sleep journal in order to get the best feedback possible in order to make changes for better sleep.
Struggling with insomnia? Head over to our Guide To Insomnia for tips, tricks, and more information.
What Should You Write In Your Journal?
There are several aspects of your day and night that are important to record. Individually as well as together, these areas can help you account for reasons your sleep may be suffering. Below are several key areas we recommend journaling to ensure that you keep an accurate sleep diary. Also, if you find it more convenient to use a journal that is designed for sleep journaling we like this journal’s easy to follow format.
It might be a little obvious, but to start it is important to keep track of your sleep and sleep patterns. Including the amount of sleep you are getting as well as your bedtime and wakeup time.
As adults we often think we stick to a pretty consistent routine, but once you start journaling you may see that your routine isn’t quite what you thought. By writing our sleep patterns down you are better able to see what time of day is best for falling asleep and waking up for feeling well rested. Or to determine how much sleep leaves you feeling well rested and ready to take on your day.
When you exercise on a regular basis, it can be really helpful for your overall sleep quality and quantity. However, if you are working very late at night or drinking an excess of pre workout stimulants, it could be disrupting or delaying your sleep. Either way, it is good to track when you are working out and when you are not in order to see how your exercising habits could be potentially benefiting or delaying your sleep.
You may find that when you workout in the mornings, you sleep better at night then when you workout in the afternoons, or vice versa. Which is why documenting and reflecting over your habits can give you more information on this.
Learn more about how exercise can change you sleeping habits in our post: Is Exercise Good For Sleep?
The food you fuel your body with can greatly impact your sleep. Diet changes can give you more energy or less throughout the day. Significant weight gain or loss can also change how you sleep as well. Even food allergies can cause digestive distress and make it difficult to sleep well throughout the night.
All of these reasons are why it is important to document everything you ate during the day. Allowing you to see if there is something that can trigger your sleep patterns.
Wondering if what you eat could be ruining your sleep? You may enjoy our post Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed
In this section take note of your alcohol consumption. While many believe an alcoholic beverage or two can help you sleep, it can potentially leave you feeling more tired the next day.
Tracking how much you are drinking can help you determine how much or if your sleep and energy is being negatively affected by how much you are or are not drinking per day.
Learn more about the affects alcohol has on your sleep in our post: Our Guide To Why Alcohol and Sleep Don’t Mix or get our best alcohol free night cap recipes in our post: Alcohol Free Nightcap Recipes
In this part of the sleep journal, document how much caffeine you are drinking per day and at what time.
Coffee and caffeinated beverages are part of our routines and daily life. However, caffeine can remain active in your system for up to 6 hours. Which means your afternoon pick me up, could be making it more difficult to get to sleep at night.
Considering cutting out caffeine? Then you will want to check out: Caffeine Free: The Benefits of Quitting Caffeine
Proper hydration is vital for great sleep and energy. In this section we recommend tracking your hydration throughout the day. How much water you had throughout the day.
We also recommend if you struggle with disrupted sleep with bathroom breaks throughout the night, that you track when you stop drinking liquids for the night. This can help you figure out the best time is to stop drinking liquids in order to comfortably sleep through the night without needing to use the restroom.
Click HERE to learn more about the benefits staying hydrated has on your sleep.
Energy Level Throughout The Day:
This is the section to take note on how your energy levels were throughout the day. Perhaps you woke up groggy but felt great throughout the rest of the day. Or maybe you had a bigger slump during midday than usual.
This can be directly tied to your sleep, or it could even be affected by your daily activities. However, it can be helpful to see how your sleeping habits affect your energy throughout the day, just as much as how your daily activities affect your sleeping habits.
You May Also Enjoy: How To Stay Awake At Work All Day
Medications & Vitamins:
This section is dedication to tracking your medications and vitamin intake. Different prescriptions and even vitamins can really have a huge impact on your sleeping habits.
It is also important to be especially mindful of what time of day you are taking certain medications or vitamins. While some can induce sleep and others can make you feel wired. Some multi-vitamins even contain caffeine in order to make you feel energized.
Learn more about the benefits of taking your vitamins in our post: Vitamin D And Sleep
Take a bath? Watch TV? Listen to a Podcast? Write down what you did during the few hours right before heading off to sleep. Your bedtime routine is important for great sleep. This is because our circadian rhythm works best with routine, as the sun goes down and we prepare for sleep, our circadian rhythm sends out signals and hormones to put us to sleep.
If you have an inconsistent bed time or nightly routine, then our circadian rhythm has a much more difficult time trying to determine when it is time to start preparing for sleep. Especially if you use blue light emitting devices late into the evening. Keep track of this in your nighttime activities as well. Aka: when did you turn off the TV/Smartphone/Tablet etc.
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Write in this section when you first get up in the morning. Write out if you had trouble falling asleep, or trouble staying asleep. Wright down how much energy you woke up with. Whether or not you woke up feeling well rested or groggy. If you woke up with a headache or not. etc. If you want to make it easier on yourself, or if you have little time in the mornings. Make a key for yourself and use that key as a way of saying how well you slept, few our key example below.
- Great – Fell asleep quickly and easily, little to no sleep disruptions, woke up feeling well rested.
- Good – Little bit of trouble falling asleep, some sleep disruptions, overall woke up feeling well rested.
- Needs Work – More trouble falling asleep, several disruptions during sleep, woke up feeling groggy or tired.
- Poor – Terrible time falling asleep, many disruptions, difficulty staying asleep, woke up tired or having not slept much at all.
This is an optional section, although it can be helpful in determining sleep quality. Writing out whether or not you had dreams throughout the night can help you get a good idea on whether or not you experienced REM sleep. Although the lack of dreams or remembering them is often not a sign that you have not experienced REM sleep, as we often forget most of our dreams before we wake up.
If you enjoy to document your dreams, a sleep journal can be a fun place to do so. You are already writing down how you slept and so on, it is a great place to go ahead and jot down the dreams you experienced during the night.
Want to learn more about dreams? Check out our post: A Guide To Lucid Dreaming
Example Sleep Journal Format:
Below is a condensed version of what we recommend keeping track of in your sleep journal. Also, any other areas that would help you better understand your personal sleep patterns is great to add.
- Sleep: Bedtime, Wake Time, Waking Up, Total Hours of Sleep
- Exercise: What Activities? Amount of Time?
- Food: Foods Consumed & Time of Day
- Alcohol: What Kind, How Much and at What Time?
- Caffeine: What Time of Day and How Much?
- Water: How Much Was Consumed?
- Medication & Vitamins: What Types?
- Sleep Quality: Great, Good, Needs Work or Poor
- Nighttime Activities: Bedtime Routine, Time Leading Up to Bedtime
Keep Your Journal at Your Bedside
In our opinion, one of the best ways to stay consistent with your sleep journal is to keep it on hand. Whenever you are creating a new habit, making it as easy and convenient as possible is always a great help. Since you would be writing in your journal right before bed and as soon as you wake up in the morning.
It is rather convenient to have your journal on hand at your bedside. This allows you to write things down right away before they are forgotten. This is especially true if you like to document your dreams, as they can drift off very quickly if you do not write them down right away.
Write In Your Sleep Journal Daily
These small daily details in life can become quite difficult to remember as time goes by. While you may think there is not way you would forget what you had to eat for lunch on Monday, and how tired you felt in the afternoon… You will.
Which is why we suggest that you skip the memory games of attempting to remember all the many details of your daily life by simply writing in your sleep journal once before heading off to sleep, and right when you wake up in the morning. This will make keeping track of everything much easier overall.
Final Thoughts On Keeping A Sleep Journal:
With so many new habits, consistency is key. Don’t be upset with yourself if you fall off the wagon and forget to write in your sleep journal for a few days. Just write in it as often as you can, and pick it back up when you can. Also, you can tailor your sleep journal to work for you and your sleeping habits.
Perhaps you want to add a section for whether or not you are using a nightguard for your teeth. Or perhaps you travel often, or sleep in multiple locations. You may want to note where you were sleeping that day. Make the sleep journal work for you instead of the other way around.
This is made to help you document your habits and how you are sleeping so you can determine things you can change in order to get your best sleep possible. It can also be a helpful tool to show doctors if you continue to struggle getting great sleep.
Have questions for us? We would be happy to help, simply Contact Us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.