As a kid, did you often keep a diary? Our diaries were a way of expressing our innermost desires, understanding our feelings, and making sense of our day to day to lives. Years later, we look back on those entries and wonder what we were thinking, but at the time, they served a genuine purpose -- to help, to inspire, and even to educate.
Fast-forward to the present, and writing in a diary now seems like an extra chore one has to tack on to their already full schedule. However, if that full schedule is keeping you up at night, you may want to consider readopting the activity.
Related Blog: Develop a Nightly Routine to Help You Sleep Better
Diaries of a Sleepy Adult
A bad night of sleep can boil down to many different factors that we're often unaware of. Underlying stress, anxiety, and restlessness are often at the forefront, but late night habits like signing onto the computer before you go to bed and drinking a cup of coffee can cause a poor night as well.
How do we discover what's really at the root of our sleep problems? A sleep diary, that's how!
Sleep diaries ask you questions regarding your sleep patterns -- the time you went to bed, the duration of your sleep, activities beforehand, etc. It can be an excellent gauge for determining both your quality of sleep and the surprising reasons you're not getting enough of it.
But Are They Effective?
A sleep diary may sound like a fine solution, but do they actually work? Better.com interviewed Psychologist Matthew Ebben, PhD, who says they help people "find and fix sleep problems" so that they can improve their rest. Identifying your nightly rituals is only half the battle. A sleep diary can give you important information you and your doctor can use to determine the real issues plaguing your sleep as well as any changes that need to be made.
2 More Benefits of a Sleep DiaryProvides Motivation
Not knowing what's wrong with our bodies often sends us into panic mode. We become so worried about what's wrong that we often don't do anything at all. Our fear only worsens the situation. Discovering what lies at the core of our sleep issues can be a huge motivator.
Isn't it true that you're more likely to take action when the issue isn't shrouded in mystery? A sleep diary clears the fog, allowing us a chance to see what we're doing wrong and how we can correct it.
Okay, so now you've corrected those bad habits -- how do you know if it's working? Enter the sleep diary. It's important that we maintain our sleep diary and record information in it consistently. Over time, we'll be able to notice if our actions have made an impact in our sleep.
Memory alone is not enough, and less so when you're not getting enough sleep! Without a sleep diary, you'll never be able to tell how effective those changes were, or if you need to make new ones.
Where Do I Get One?
You can always ask your doctor for a sleep diary on your next visit, but if you're wanting to start analyzing your sleep on your own, Sleepfoundation.org has a great diary you can print to assess a range of morning and night-time factors that contribute to your lack of sleep. This can help you identify any disruptive habits and alter them for better results.
If you find you're not seeing any results after a couple of weeks, consult your doctor. There could be a undiagnosed sleep condition preventing restorative sleep. Only your doctor will know for sure.
A sleep diary is a powerful tool that can help you get back to sleeping soundly at night. Keep it with you and refer to it from time to time if you start slipping back into old habits. It can be a real sleep-saver!