Home Sleep Wellness Should I Keep a Sleep Diary?

3 mins

8 July 2022

Should I Keep a Sleep Diary?

Have you ever kept a diary in your life? There was probably a time during your school age years where you wrote your personal thoughts and feelings in a diary and kept it somewhere close to you. Like you, many other school age children start to write a diary in primary school. Generally, teachers encourage this behaviour and teach the importance of having a diary where you can write about intimate thoughts, and note down feelings, worries, dreams, and emotions. The idea is for the diary to help us observe ourselves in a more detached manner when we read our thoughts so we can have a more objective view of our lives. 

Filippo Calderaro

What is a sleep diary?   

A sleep log or diary works in the same way as the diary we kept or maybe still keep today. This sleep log is a written record of 24 hours or longer of a person’s sleep-wake pattern.  

Like in an ordinary diary, you are asked to write about made events or circumstances during the day made you the most stressed and ask you to assess how anxious you are. There are also information about the things you consumed (coffee, medicines to help sleep, etc.) and the activities performed during the day. And since it’s about sleep, the diary also asks you to fill out information such as the duration of sleep, the number of times you woke up during the night, and how long it to you to fall asleep or get up from bed.   

But, like and ordinary diary, in order for the sleep log to be effective, it needs our commitment every day for at least 1-2 weeks. This allows the log to capture a good number of days to help identify some patterns that can be useful for us. And while sleep logs have been shown to under-represent actual sleepiness, they are still valuable tools for clinical insomnia evaluation.  

Why should I keep a Sleep Log?  

There are at least three primary purposes to start keeping a sleep log or diary.  

  1. Identifying Habits and Patterns: Very often, problems with sleep quality arise from certain habits that are unique to the individual. By keeping a sleep log, we can connect specific behaviours to the quality of our sleep. In this way, we can develop our tailor-made solutions. If, for example, you wake up one morning and you feel so refreshed like you got an above-average sleep quality and you realize that you didn’t consume coffee past 2PM the previous day, this could be a sign to limit caffeine consumption towards the afternoon.  
  2. Expert Consultation and Therapy: The diary is generally used by doctors and specialists when we reach out to them for any potential sleep issues. After carefully reading our diary, experts can develop specific interventions for our condition and needs. These diaries are also a trustworthy indicator of changes in sleep patterns and can be used to gauge how well a treatment works. Additionally, sleep diaries can help identify therapeutic objectives, including inadequate sleep. Furthermore, if you are going to begin a cognitive behavioural therapy program for insomnia, you must complete a sleep diary before the start of the program and every week during the therapy. 
  3. Routine Creation: One of the essential tips of so-called sleep hygiene is to create a particular practice or ritual before we get into bed. Beginning to write a sleep diary can undoubtedly help us to have a more consistent routine that can help us fall asleep quickly. 

Key Takeaway

Overall, keeping a sleep log or a sleep diary can help us get to know ourselves better. When we know ourselves better, we can work on identifying activities or habits that will help us achieve better well-being and overall health.  

<p>Filippo is passionate neuroscientist. He explores the various topics around sleep, developing a varied and multidisciplinary knowledge around it.</p>

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