How to keep a sleep diary? A sleep diary is a record of different information related to the sleeping patterns and habits of an individual that occur over the course of a day. It is a useful tool to help health care professionals or a person with sleeping problems identify issues that may be contributing to poor sleep hygiene. Once you start to document your habits every day, you may be surprised to find how some of your activities affect the quality of your sleep. The results of your sleep diary will also help inform your doctor or sleep specialist and help them target what kind of sleep disorder you may have. These can include insomnia, narcolepsy, abnormal circadian rhythms, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome.
Keeping a diary is important especially if a person experiences changes in his sleeping habits. Through it, monitoring sleep practices will be much easier. Doctors usually advise their patients to keep a sleep diary for at least 3 to 4 weeks to make sure their sleep patterns are consistent and to identify if there is any improvement or aggravation of your symptoms. The contents of a sleep diary may vary but here are some common components.
Components of a Sleep Diary
Time that the person started or attempted to fall asleep. How long it took to fall asleep Estimated amount of sleep acquired The time, length, and frequency of awakenings during sleep. Time that the person woke up. How many total hours of sleep. If a person woke up naturally, by an alarm clock, or due to a specific interruption. How did you feel upon waking i.e. alert, groggy, tired, refreshed, etc. How many caffeinated beverages did you consume during the day. Start and end time of daytime naps. Exercises carried out during the day. Name, dosage, time and frequency of drugs used including any medications or alcohol. Track your level of sleepiness throughout the day. What was your appetite level during the day. Time of dinner at night, whether it is light or a heavy meal, spicy, etc. Level of stress or irritability during the day and before bedtime. Activities done during the last hour before going to bed.
How to Record Sleep Diary Data
To be most effective, it’s important that a person organize the data collection for his sleep diary. Fortunately, it is easy to conduct an online search for the term “sleep diary” and locate a number of different forms. Your sleep specialist may have their own preferred version. Whatever form you use, be consistent and thorough. Record your activities every day so you don’t forget important details. Daytime and nighttime factors should be recorded separately.
Your health care provider may also recommend that you undergo an actigraphy test while you are collecting your sleep diary information. An actigraphy test measures gross motor activity via a small device called an actigraph that is worn on the wrist much like a watch. Actigraphs can sometimes be utilized in place of multiple sleep latency tests at a sleep apnea clinic to help identify daytime sleepiness as well as for other sleep disorders such as insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, and restless leg syndrome.
Over the course of two to three weeks, as you are recording your activities into your sleep diary, keep track of the changes observed in your sleep patterns. Once you get in the habit, it should only take 5-10 minutes each day to accurately record your activities. Once your behavior is documented so you can easily review and analyze it, you may gradually begin to realize and understand the cause or causes of the factors that are interfering with your ability to get a very good night’s sleep. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor or sleep specialist.
You don’t need to have a sleep disorder to keep a sleep diary. Anyone can do it even if you don’t have major sleeping problems. Every person’s sleep habits are unique. By keeping track of your activities over the course of a few weeks through the use of a sleep diary, anyone can gain some insight into how well he sleeps. Create a sleep diary.