Getting good quality sleep is an essential part of any daily routine. Sufficient rest sets us up to perform at our best during the day and plays an important role in our overall health. But for many people, falling asleep and staying asleep is a struggle. Fortunately, keeping a sleep journal can help you fine-tune your habits on your own to improve your sleep. It can also provide valuable information if you need to work with a specialist to address sleep issues. By identifying patterns and highlighting elements that affect your sleep quality, you'll become empowered to practice positive sleep hygiene. Read on to learn more about the benefits of keeping a sleep journal.
Why Keep a Sleep Journal?
There's nothing more frustrating than tossing and turning through the night when you have important things to do the following day. You know you need to get quality rest to be at your best, but the more you think about it, the harder it is to relax and drift off. This situation happens to everybody on occasion, but for some people, it is a frequent—even nightly—occurrence.
Whether your sleep troubles are caused by issues that you have control over or whether you require assistance from a professional sleep specialist, the first step in dealing with them is figuring out what they are and what is causing them. Keeping a sleep journal will give you a record of data that you can use to make good sleep habits better, solve simple problems on your own, or answer important questions when you need to work with a doctor.
What Should You Track in a Sleep Journal?
To make sure that you have enough information about your sleep routine, you should keep a sleep journal for at least two weeks. Depending on your specific situation, it might be necessary to gather up to a month of information before you can start to draw reliable conclusions from the data.
Every sleep journal should include necessary information like the date of the entry, the time that you went to bed, how long it took you to fall asleep, and what time you woke up. If your daily routine varies due to changing shifts at work or other factors, you should include that information in your sleep journal so that you're not trying to remember those factors when you analyze the data.
In addition to information about the amount and quality of sleep that you obtain each night, your sleep journal should record information about your day that can provide relevant insights into the quality of your sleep. Information about diet and exercise, alcohol consumption, evening activities, and the use of electronic devices can all be valuable to your efforts to identify helpful and harmful influences on your slumber.
Better Information = Better Decisions = Better Sleep
When you can look at weeks or months of entries in your sleep journal, you'll start to notice patterns. Does your sleep quality suffer every time you have a heavy meal just a few hours before bedtime? Does the number of alcoholic beverages you consume on a given day correspond to a drop in your quality of sleep? Maybe it is the evening where you watch TV, work on your computer, or play on a smartphone that makes the biggest difference in your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
When you know which factors have the most influence on the quality of your sleep, you'll be able to make better choices when you need to make sure that you get proper rest.
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