Diagnosing Your Sleep With a Diary

This topic segues from our last two posts about being tired in the daytime and why that is neither normal nor good. Sometimes the first step in getting your sleep hygiene — or sleep routine and habits — back on track is to examine your nighttime experience from pre-sleep to sleep to waking up.

This is what is called keeping a sleep diary, which should be maintained for several days at least for proper results. Here is what you need to note in your diary for further self-analysis and corrective action:

  • What time you go to bed and get up
  • What you consume in both food and drink (alcohol, caffeine, milk, whatever) and when before turning in
  • Total hours of sleep and times of wakefulness during the night
  • What you did during your times of wakefulness (turned on TV, had milk, tried to close your eyes and count sheep, etc.)
  • Your feelings and moods before turning in, whether happy, sad, depressed, stressed, whatever, even anger
  • What medications you took, whether for sleeping aid or otherwise, and when

After a week or so of keeping your diary, you may be able to notice certain habits or consumptions that lead to rotten sleep patterns, such as waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep. It’s then that you can draw up a plan for better sleep hygiene.

In other postings, we have discussed many of the fundamentals of good sleep hygiene, including making sure there are no lights on in your bedroom, the TV is off, you avoid alcohol and caffeine within four or five hours of going to bed, and more.

The sleep diary may help you pinpoint what you need to change, but when all is said and done, if you’re still having trouble sleeping at night and still being tired in the daytime, it’s time to seek the help and evaluation of a sleep professional.

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