Get to the bottom of your sleeping troubles with your very own sleep journal!

Dr. Craig Hudson, MD | July 6, 2016

Keeping a sleep journal may hold the answer to your sleeping troubles – or at least provide you with some insight into patterns and behaviours that are preventing you from obtaining adequate sleep. As long as you stick with it, sleep journals can shed light on healthy vs. unhealthy sleeping habits and how they may be contributing to your insomnia.

Starting a Sleep Journal: How To

There are a few different ways that you can organize your sleep journal; however, in order to do this in the most effective and efficient way, we encourage you to be consistent in dedicating a few minutes each day (once in the morning and once at night) to filling it out. You can print off a pre-designed form like the one found here from the National Sleep Foundation or you can design your own from scratch. Generally, you should focus on tracking the following information:

In the Morning

  • Date.
  • When you went to bed the night before and when you got up the next morning.
  • How easily you fell asleep the night before (on a scale from “easy” to “hard”).
  • How long you slept during the night.
  • How many times you woke up during the night and how long you were awake.
  • The total number of hours you slept during the night.
  • Record anything that woke you up (i.e. temperature changes, noises, etc.)
  • How you felt upon waking up.

Before Bed

  • How many naps you took during the day and their duration.
  • The number of caffeinated drinks and foods you consumed.
  • How much time you spent exercising.
  • The last thing you ate or drank (2-3 hours before bed).
  • Your mood throughout the day (i.e. tired, irritably, sad, etc.)
  • What you did in the last two hours leading up to going to bed (i.e. your nightly routine).

*You may also want to keep a detailed food diary to supplement the information in your sleep journal.

How Your Sleep Journal Can Help You

It can help you isolate insomnia triggers in your daily routine

Waking up in the night because you’re overheated? Maybe you need lighter blankets. Or, perhaps you need to cut back on the coffee or refrain from using electronics before bed. By tracking your daily routine in a detailed manner, you can pinpoint areas where you need to incorporate more healthy habits into your life.

It can be useful to show your doctor 

Presenting your carefully constructed sleep journal will give your doctor the most accurate depiction of your sleeping practices and what might be causing disruptions. With help from your medical records, your doctor will have a better idea of how to diagnose your symptoms.

When you’re starting your sleep journal, be sure to stay consistent and write in it for at least two weeks. Sleep journals can put the power back in your hands to put your sleeping habits back on track.