What is a sleep log/Sleep diary?

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Page last updated: 18/11/2022

What is a sleep log/Sleep diary?

In this blog we will briefly explore what sleep log or sleep diaries are.

We will also discuss what the components of a sleep log are, why sleep logs are important, and how one can use a sleep log.

What is a sleep log/Sleep diary?

A sleep log also known as a sleep diary refers to a tool that is used to record an individual’s sleeping habits over time- usually a period of several weeks. 

This log is usually used by doctors and patients to keep a record of the patient’s sleeping schedules and routine in order to use that information for diagnosis and  treatment.

The log consists of self-reported information related to the individual sleeping and waking hours and is used for the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders and also for the monitoring of treatment for other disorders to determine efficacy of treatment. 

Sleep logs are also called sleep diaries; however, a sleep diary is more detailed than a sleep log. Sleep logs are often hand-drawn on graph paper or in some cases, the individual is also given a printed out sheet. 

As of recent years, specialised software and sleep logs apps are also available to keep a track of one’s daily sleep pattern.

Other than this sleep log being used as a tool for diagnosis and treatment for disorders, it can also be used by an individual to gain an awareness of the various factors that impact their sleep as well as their sleep patterns. 

It is a useful tool to help an individual keep track of their sleep such as information related to when one goes to bed, whether they woke up at night, how many hours they are sleeping etc. 

It usually covers two weeks and in some cases a month. It is most useful when the log is used consistently and information related to one’s sleep are all recorded such as medication, caffeine intake etc. 

You can access a sleep log provided by the NHS here

What are the Components of a sleep log?

The various components of a sleep log consists of recorded information related to the following:

  • Bedtime and/or lights-out time
  • Wake-up time
  • How long it takes to fall asleep
  • The number and duration of sleep interruptions
  • The number and duration of daytime naps
  • Perceived sleep quality
  • Consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and/or tobacco
  • Daily medications
  • Daily exercise
What is a sleep log/Sleep diary?

Why Use a Sleep Diary?

A sleep log is used to evaluate the quality of an individual’s sleep as well as the various aspects of their life that impact their sleep.

To understand sleep patterns and habits

By keeping a record of sleep, it provides the individual or the doctor with an insight into an individual’s sleep habits, sleep patterns, and the quality of sleep.

It usually covers two weeks and in some cases a month. It is most useful when the log is used consistently and information related to one’s sleep are all recorded such as medication, caffeine intake etc. 

It also provides insight into factors such as medication intake, sleep disruptions, and other factors that influence sleep.

To get proactive about sleep

If you are interested in improving your sleep, using a sleep log can ultimately get you proactive about your sleep habits. 

As you begin to question your routines and develop insight as to the various factors that are impacting your sleep such as- screen time, caffeine, medication intake etc- you can become more aware of what is helpful and what is detrimental to your sleep. 

This in turn can help make you more proactive about your sleep. Some of the questions that you can ask to become more proactive about yourself include:

  • Am I spending significant time lying in bed without being able to fall asleep?
  • Is my sleep disrupted at night? If so, is there any pattern in the diary that might explain why?
  • Is my sleep satisfying? Do I feel drowsy during the day?
  • Am I taking naps that are too long or too late in the day that could be affecting my nighttime sleep?
  • Is my use of alcohol, caffeine, and/or medications affecting my sleep time or sleep quality? (Sleep Foundation.org)

For diagnosis

It is an important tool that is used by patients and doctors to keep a track of their sleep patterns to diagnose sleep disorders as well as an everyday tool to be used by people to gain awareness of one’s sleep habits and quality of sleep. 

With this information, the clinical profession can identify disorders and habits that impact one’s sleep and this can be valuable information for health providers to diagnose a patient. 

Using sleep logs and diaries are considered to be more reliable information compared to personal accounts due to lapses in memory and judgement for some clients. 

Monitor the effectiveness of your treatment

The log consists of self-reported information related to the individual sleeping and waking hours and is used for the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders and also for the monitoring of treatment for other disorders to determine efficacy of treatment. 

Sleep logs are prefered by clinicians because they are considered to be more reliable information compared to personal accounts due to lapses in memory and judgement for some clients. 

As treatment progresses, the changes in patterns and habits of the patient can be vital information for the doctor to keep track of the treatment progress, what works and what does not work, as well as what can be done to improve the patient’s sleep. 

How to Use a Sleep Diary?

The best way you can use a sleep diary is to remember to do the following:

Fill it out everyday

To keep the most accurate sleep diary, fill it out carefully every day. Staying current and updating your diary is the most effective step that you can take so that the information is uptodate, accurate, and this helps avoid gaps in memory. 

Keep tools nearby

Tools like the sleep log, pen and paper etc must be kept close to you in case you wake up in the middle of the night or somewhere where you see it everyday like on your fridge or near your dresser mirror so that you are reminded to fill it everyday. 

Follow instructions carefully

If your doctor has asked you to fill in the sleep log, make sure that you follow instructions provided and make use of the form or the log that their clinic provides. 

Doctors usually advise patients to keep a sleep diary for at least one week, however, you might need to update your diary for two weeks or more depending on your doctor’s advice. 

If you’re keeping a sleep diary as a personal choice, here are some questions that you can ask yourself to evaluate your sleep habits and quality of sleep:

  • Am I budgeting enough time for sleep?
  • Is my sleep schedule consistent or full of fluctuations?
  • Am I spending significant time lying in bed without being able to fall asleep?
  • Is my sleep disrupted at night? If so, is there any pattern in the diary that might explain why?
  • Is my sleep satisfying? Do I feel drowsy during the day?
  • Am I taking naps that are too long or too late in the day that could be affecting my nighttime sleep?
  • Is my use of alcohol, caffeine, and/or medications affecting my sleep time or sleep quality? (Sleep Foundation.org)

How can you set an ideal sleeping environment?

There are various factors that can impact the quality of sleep for an individual and fortunately, there are plenty of things that can be done to set up a healthy sleep environment to improve your sleep quality. 

Some of them include:

  • Keep the temperature of your room between 60-70° Fahrenheit
  • If you live in a noisy area, use earplugs or noise cancelling devices 
  • Use Blackout curtains or a sleep mask to help keep your room dark 
  • Cleaning your sheets and blankets on a regular basis
  • Make sure your bed has been made before going to sleep
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture in the air if you need it
  • Use diffusers to up relaxing scents like lavender to sleep

Conclusion

In this blog we have briefly explored what sleep log or sleep diaries are.

We have also discussed what the components of a sleep log are, why sleep logs are important, and how one can use a sleep log.

FAQ related to What is a sleep log/Sleep diary?

What do you put in a sleep log?

Some of the details that you add into a sleep log include details about :

  • Bedtime and/or lights-out time
  • Wake-up time
  • How long it takes to fall asleep
  • The number and duration of sleep interruptions
  • The number and duration of daytime naps
  • Perceived sleep quality
  • Consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and/or tobacco
  • Daily medications
  • Daily exercise

How does a sleep log work?

A sleep log also known as a sleep diary refers to a tool that is used to record an individual’s sleeping habits over time- usually a period of several weeks. 

This log is usually used by doctors and patients to keep a record of the patient’s sleeping schedules and routine in order to use that information for diagnosis and  treatment.

The log consists of self-reported information related to the individual sleeping and waking hours and is used for the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders and also for the monitoring of treatment for other disorders to determine efficacy of treatment. 

Should I keep a sleep log?

Keeping a sleep log can be beneficial as it can make you more mindful and proactive about your sleep. 

As you begin to question your routines and develop insight as to the various factors that are impacting your sleep such as- screen time, caffeine, medication intake etc- you can become more aware of what is helpful and what is detrimental to your sleep. 

This in turn can help make you more proactive about your sleep and make changes that might ultimately improve your sleep. 

What is the number one rule about sleep logs?

The key for a sleep log to be effective is to fill it out every single day. To keep the most accurate sleep diary, fill it out carefully every day. Staying current and updating your diary is the most effective step that you can take so that the information is uptodate, accurate, and this helps avoid gaps in memory. 

References

Sleep Diary. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved on 25th march 2022.https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-diary

How a sleep diary can transform how you feel. MayoClinic. Retrieved on 25th March 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/how-a-sleep-diary-can-transform-how-you-feel/art-20342128

Sleep Diary. Sleep Education. Retrieved on 25th March 2022. https://sleepeducation.org/resources/sleep-diary/

What is a Sleep Diary? 4 Reasons You Should Keep A Sleep Diary. Alaska Sleep Education Centre. Retrieved on 25th March 2022. https://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/what-is-a-sleep-diary

Posted by Jennifer Hines