Why Bother to Keep a Sleep Diary?

Do you sleep well? If not, do you know why?

Keeping a sleep diary will allow you to find patterns in your sleep habits. For instance you may find, for instance, that you sleep better after a meal that is high in carbohydrates as opposed to one that is high in protein.

Or you may find that a short nap in the middle of the day keeps you awake at night. Others may find the opposite – a nap during the day helps them sleep better at night.

Only by keeping a regular record of the things that affect your sleep will you be able to pinpoint and avoid the "sleep stealers" that you may not have previously been aware of. It only takes a few minutes a day and can pay dividends over time if you're a poor sleeper.

So what sorts of things should we write in our sleep diary? Well the most important ones are:

Naps – record any naps during the day, even the five minute doze in front of the TV. Also record the time of day when you napped.

Dinner – What did you have to eat for your evening meal and at what time?

Coffee / tea or any other caffeinated drinks – How many and what time was the last one?

Alcohol – Did you have any alcoholic drinks today? When and how many?

Relaxation – did you practice any relaxation exercises during the day? For how long and at what time?

Medications – what medications (sleeping or other) did you take in the latter part of the day?

Activities – what happened today? Was it a normal day for you or did something out of the ordinary occur? What were you doing just before bed?

In bed – Did you read or watch TV in bed? What time did you turn off the lights?

And the following morning make a note of the following:

How long did it take you to fall asleep last night?

How many times did you wake up?

What time did you get out of bed?

What was the quality of your sleep?

It may sound a bit of a chore at first, but with practice you can do this fairly quickly. Over time you will notice a definite pattern emerging which will enable you to isolate activities or eating habits which have a negative impact on your sleep. It may be reading or watching TV in bed, or it may be too may be alcoholic drinks after dinner. Then you can take steps to eliminate or cut down on these activities to achieve better sleep.

Copyright 2006 Wendy Owen

Source by Wendy Owen

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