When you first got into bed, when you fell asleep, if and when you woke up during the night, when you first woke up in the morning, when you got out of bed, medications you take during the day, caffeine and alcohol use, if and when you napped, exercise you did, and your mood should all be included in a good sleep diary.
You can find online sleep diaries or print one out from www.sleepeducation.com/resources.html. You want to note down what time you go to bed and wake up each day, as well as any other notes about your sleep pattern that may not have otherwise been apparent. For example, did you sleep better on certain nights of the week? If so, which days? Was there a particular time of year that affected how you slept? Did you feel more tired during the day during certain times of the year? If so, when was this happening? Were there any circumstances (such as your menstrual cycle) that affected how you slept? If so, when? What were these circumstances? Were there any other factors such as medical conditions or medications that affected how you slept? Were there any behaviors (such as watching TV before bed) that affected how you slept? If so, what changed? What aspects of your lifestyle - including diet and exercise - helped you sleep? What aspects of your lifestyle - including stress management techniques, relaxation methods, and substance abuse - didn't help you sleep?
The information you will enter in the sleep diary is clear and uncomplicated. It covers the time you go to bed, the time you get up, your total number of hours of sleep, and if you had any midnight awakenings (and how long you were up) or daytime naps. You should also note in your diary whether you slept well or not, and if not, why not.
You should record your sleep in a daily log book, which can be as simple as a notebook with page numbers for each day. However, there are computerized logbooks available too. They can be very helpful when it comes to tracking your sleep on a weekly basis, as they can automatically calculate your average amount of sleep per night.
In addition to the basic information listed above, it may be useful to record other aspects of your sleep pattern that may change from night to night or over time for a single night. These include but are not limited to:
- The time you went to bed
- The time you woke up
- Any episodes of waking during the night
- What time you got back to sleep
Eight good sleep habits