If you’re not a regular journal keeper, the idea of recording your sleeping habits might seem a bit strange. But sleep journals can be quite beneficial in determining the cause of your sleep troubles, helping you fall asleep, and in keeping track of the changes that make a difference in your sleep quality. The type of journal you use is up to you—it can be as formal as informal or as detailed or brief as you’d like. However, keep in mind that the more you record, the more likely you are to start recognizing patterns.
A BASIC SLEEP JOURNAL TEMPLATE
You probably need some sort of starting point from which to create your own personal sleep journal. Many sleep journals are formatted into columns that list the days of the week and rows that list facts like “Time I Went to Bed” or “Total Exercise.” Some sleep journals are even so specific that they break each day down on an hourly basis so that you can write out how tired you feel at each hour throughout the day. If you’re making your own journal, this may be a bit much.
- Time you wake up
- Time you go to bed
- Time it takes you to fall asleep
- Number and length of daytime naps
- Brief description of the day’s major events
- Level of stress
- Amount of exercise
- When and what you ate
- Disturbing dreams or other disruptions to sleep
- Description of waking process (Did you miss 2 alarms?)
- How refreshed or sleepy you feel
- Medications taken and when
- Analysis of Dreams
You should keep a sleep journal for at least 1-2 weeks if you want to start to see patterns and authentic results. Sometimes, it can appear that one thing is the cause of your poor sleep, when really another factor is to blame.
TYPES OF SLEEP JOURNALS
Sleep journals can be used for a variety of different reasons, and they can be tailored to meet your needs. Here are some of the most commonly kept sleep journals and how you can put them to use.
SLEEP APNEA JOURNAL
Keeping a journal of your sleep apnea can be a really big help in making sure you get the correct diagnosis and the best treatment plan from your doctor or dentist. Although you will undergo a sleep study before you start using a CPAP machine or any other type of treatment for sleep apnea, writing down your sleep apnea symptoms in a journal as they occur can help you know where to start as well as give your doctor a foundation.
Here is a list of things that should be recorded in a sleep apnea journal:
- How often you awaken during the night
- Instances when your snoring wakes you up
- Shortness of breath or breathing irregularities
- Unusual symptoms like night sweats, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, etc.
- Daytime effects like drowsiness, lack of concentration, constant naps
- Effects your sleeping partner notices, like volume of snoring, tossing and turning, or pauses in breathing.
Keep the journal by your bed so that you can write in it at the morning and at night. You can also use the sleep journal once you have started sleep apnea treatment to see which appliances and treatment options work best for you. For more information about sleep apnea, check out the Sleep and Breathing journal.
SLEEP DISORDERS JOURNAL
The same techniques above can be applied to any sleep disorder, like night terrors, sleep paralysis, insomnia, snoring, and even narcolepsy. You’d be surprised what you will discover just by making a record of your habits and analyzing them. For example, if you have a problem with heavy snoring, keep a journal that records the differences after trying different treatment plans. What happens when you use breathing strips? What happens when you start sleeping on your back? This simple strategy can be applied to any sleep disorder.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION JOURNAL
Similarly, sometimes people who suffer from sleep deprivation use a journal to write in before they go to sleep to relieve stress and relax. The same journal can be used to record dreams, write down daily anxieties, or just to be productive when sleep just won’t come to you. There are even journals made specifically for this purpose, such as the popular I Can’t Sleep Journal by Knock Knock, featuring amusing quotes (“Life is something that happens when you can’t get sleep”) alongside blank pages for you to fill. This journal is sold in several places on the web in addition to the Knock Knock site.
PICK UP A PEN
Whatever your dilemma, you can take action by simply picking up a pen and a piece of paper and recording what’s happening. The first step is simply to get started, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, more energized you. Don’t forget to analyze your results after a few weeks pass. Let us know how your sleep journal works for you in the comments below.