Whether you’re part of an official sleep study or you just want answers for yourself, one tool that will help you find the sleep that’s eluding you is a sleep diary.
One of the most frustrating issues of having a sleep disorder is the not knowing why it’s happening to you.
A sleep diary can help you pinpoint the reasons you’re not getting enough rest at night. There is no exact right or wrong sleep pattern, but having a diary that chronicles your slumber will help you see when (and why) your sleep schedule is making you feel deprived.
When you’re suffering from sleep disorders, your mind may not function as clearly as it does when you are getting enough sleep. A diary will help you remember the details of why you woke up, or what caused you to have trouble falling asleep.
Keep Lots of Details
You’ll need to record certain elements about your sleep, not just whether or not you got any. You’ll want to jot down your pre-slumber routine – were you watching Prison Break or cleaning house right before bed or did you have a fat-laden, high-caffeine meal 20 minutes before you got into bed?
Your diary can reveal habits you haven’t picked up on. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A simple piece of paper with grids can be all you need to create a record of your sleep. You don’t even need to be exact with timelines – if you know you went to bed around 10 PM, write it down – don’t worry if it was 9:55 PM or 10:12 PM.
Keep track of the times you wake up and what made you wake up. Did you get out of bed when you woke up? What did you do? When were you able to go back to sleep? All of these answers help the sleep study clinic (or you) hone in on what you’re doing right or wrong.
Times, Meds, Food, Mood
Try to keep a record of when you went to bed and woke up, how often (and for how long) you woke up during the night, what medications you were on, what you ate, any naps you took during the day, and when you felt drowsy versus when you were alert and awake.
Note to yourself whether you felt refreshed or fatigued when you woke up the next morning. Keep track of what you consumed during the day – caffeine, medications, food, etc. At different times of the day, try to note how you feel – energetic or exhausted?
What Can You Change?
Go over your sleep diary and see what changes you can make in your lifestyle habits to help alleviate your sleep disorder. If you don’t see anything apparent to your knowledge, then take the sleep diary to a doctor and have him or her read through it to see if a professionally-trained medical professional can find the issues you need to address.