How To Use A Sleep Diary

During these unprecedented times, when our routines and schedules have been completely disrupted, even more people are reporting sleep disturbances. Many of us are working and sleeping in the same space, making it difficult to establish healthy sleep routines. In fact, one in four Americans develops insomnia each year.

Insomnia is a sleep-wake disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking frequently. People who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders often feel dissatisfied with their quality of sleep, which in turn impacts how they function cognitively. Many people with insomnia will notice negative changes in their work/school performances and abilities to be social and active.

A sleep diary is a simple tool that helps you take a look at your sleep patterns, identify any poor sleeping habits, and start getting on the track to better rest.

What is a sleep diary?

A sleep diary is a tool used to track sleep patterns in order to improve sleep hygiene. They can be used by clinicians to diagnose sleep disorders or by individuals to build awareness around sleep patterns and establish healthier routines.

What should I track in my sleep diary?

  1. The time you went to bed and woke up
  2. How long and well you slept
  3. When you were awake during the night
  4. What disturbed your sleep
  5. How much caffeine or alcohol you consumed and at what times
  6. What/when you ate and drank
  7. What emotion or stress you experienced
  8. What drugs or medications you took
  9. Amount of screentime you had
  10. Amount of physical activity you did

What issues can a sleep diary help me with?

A sleep diary can be helpful when working with or looking at any of the following issues:

Practicing good sleep hygiene

A sleep diary can alert you of poor sleep hygiene practices, which can impact your rest  (and wakefulness!) negatively. Here are some ways to practice better sleep hygiene:

Considering seeking support from a therapist

Using a sleep diary is a helpful tool in identifying poor sleep hygiene practices; however, sleep disorders often require treatment with sleep studies, medication, and therapy. If you are experiencing a sleep disorder or sleep disturbance related to a mental health condition, consider seeking support from a therapy who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Insomnia.