The human body is a perfect machine. It’s so well-designed that it works easily 24/7, while you are resting. When you sleep, your body prepares you for the following day.
As you know already, the body works as long as you are alive, so stopping isn’t an option.
We take our bodies for granted, or at least the majority of people do – this is easy to spot thanks to high numbers of people with sleep-related issues such as insomnia and an increased percent of obesity in people.
Still, you may be perfectly healthy and still have sleep issues.
In that case, it would help if you could have a record of your sleep and exact pattern that can help you understand better what, when, and how went wrong. This is why a sleep diary is so important.
Did you know that one of the 3 in 10 U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep? This is the main reason why doctors insist on monitoring your own health and your own sleeping patterns.
Having a sleep diary can help you feel more organized, to know yourself and your needs better, and to see why your body is under stress.
A Sleep Diary Creation
An asleep diary is a record of an individual’s sleeping and waking times with related information, usually over several weeks. It is self-reported or can be recorded by a caregiver.
The sleep diary, or sleep log, is a tool used by doctors and patients.
A sleep diary is a useful resource in the diagnosis and treatment of especially circadian rhythm sleep disorders, and in monitoring whether treatment of those and other sleep disorders is successful.
Sleep diaries may be used in conjunction with actigraphy.
In addition to being a useful tool for medical professionals in the diagnosis of sleep problems, a sleep diary can help make individuals more aware of the parameters affecting their sleep.
This data alone can help people self-diagnose what helps them get a good sleep.
Journaling Before Bed
You are probably familiar with this scenario: you are lying in bed ready for sleep, and instead of drifting off fast, you begin thinking about past mistakes or worrying about future events.
As the minutes’ tick by you realize that midnight is far behind. Unfortunately, for many people, this is an all-too-familiar scenario who have trouble sleeping.
So, one of the most effective ways to force yourself into sleep or at least to deal with sleep problems is to focus on creating a sleep diary, focusing on positive events.
Various research shows that journaling this way at night can help you sleep better and longer.
Studies have shown that people who have trouble sleeping are prone to worrying and fretting at bedtime.
As expected, these moments will eventually produce stress and anxiety, which make people feel uncomfortable and tired the following day.
Since you can’t stop your thoughts, you should focus on channeling them into one place. When you steer your thoughts in a happier direction, you will seem more effective.
Journaling about positive experiences during the day can help you feed your mind with positive outcomes. In that same manner, journaling about your sleeping habits can lead to healthier you.
You may think that writing is too basic and that that sleeping information isn’t relevant.
However, sleep doctors always ask patients to keep sleep logs all the time. With that in mind, imagine how helpful can it be when you already have the right data.
If you ask a sleep doctor how often do their patients keep a sleep diary, they would probably respond – all the time.
A sleep diary is usually the first recommendation for patients with insomnia or any other sleep complaint.
It’s also important to note that a sleep diary is a highly subjective tool that can actually help with objective problems.
For example, someone may not realize that a strong caffeine habit or an intense exercise routine is linked to more nighttime awakenings or other sleep issues than people think.
Plus, a sleep diary can help both patients and doctors understand better how sleep changes over time.
Important: A sleep diary isn’t only documenting when you go to sleep and when you wake up.
A good sleep diary tells your habits.
It includes the time when you fall asleep and when you wake up, but it also contains information on:
- When you fell asleep
- When you woke up during the night
- When you first woke up in the morning
- How well you slept
- How long you slept
- When you got out of bed
- Did you take any medications during the day?
- How much caffeine and alcohol did you use?
- Did you napped and for how long?
- Did you exercise and when
- How was your mood throughout the day
Sleep doctors always focus on variability in the sleep-wake schedule. They also love to see information on little things, daily habits, and anything else that could be causing sleep difficulties.
Making Time to Write
A sleep diary is all about the details. The more you document, the better help you will get.
You just have to honest with your writing. You don’t need a fancy cover, sticky notes, and special writing to keep your diary useful.
All you need to do is, to be honest about your habits through the day and night.
Yet, if a sleep doctor asks you to keep a special format, such as a graph format, do it!
There is a reason for everyone’s method, so give it a try. Each method and each task have a specific outcome and can be beneficial.
Of course, some things are easier said than done, but you will have to find time to write.
It’s difficult to write and reflect on your day after an exhausting day, but it has to be done.
Bear in mind that journaling can last between 5 – 15 minutes only, and you can spare that small amount of time for your health.
A sleep diary will help you improve your sleep, help you feel more energetic the following day, and give you an energy boost.
If you choose to journal before bed every night, it can even become a part of your bedtime routine.
With time, you will associate journaling with feelings of relaxation, which can help you fall asleep more easily.
How To Sleep Better?
If you really want to sleep better you should keep a sleep diary and mind your sleep routine.
There are specific things that you should do to improve your sleep pattern and eventually sleep better.
A steady sleep routine can help you sleep better and improve your overall health. You should try different approaches and different methods to improve your sleep quality.
Try each behavior for a few days and see what works the best for you. Moreover, see how different behavior affects your sleep as you record in your diary.
Here is what you can do:
- Limit screenign time before bed
- Have a single action before bedtime, such as drinking a tea that promotes sleep
- Keep your room temperature between 65 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit
- Avoid caffeine before bed
- Avoid alcohol before bed
- Don’t watch TV before bed
- Never leave the TV on, even if it’s in another room
- Don’t have long naps during the day
- Don’t exercise heavily before bed
Last but not least, if you are in bed and have difficulties falling asleep for more than 15 minutes, get out of bed.
Don’t spend your time just laying there. It’s better to walk off a bit or do something that will help you relax and unwind and then try going back to sleep.
The Bottom Line
If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you should start with a sleep diary immediately.
Write down your sleep-wake pattern for a minimum of three days and see what you can improve.
If it lasts for more than a few days, seek professional help. Bring your sleep diary with you on your first exam, you help your doctor set a proper diagnose and treatment faster and better.
Stressing and worrying at bedtime can stop your body from relaxing. Luckily, positive journaling can help your mind focus and redirect you in the right direction.
Regularly journaling can become a smooth part of your bedtime routine and help you fall asleep more easily.