Sleep Diary

A sleep diary, or sleep log, is an excellent and inexpensive tool that sheds light on your sleep patterns, quality and quantity. It helps your sleep medicine doctor learn about what sort of sleep disorder you have. Here is an example:

One on my young insomnia patients filled out a sleep diary over a two month period. It helped me as a doctor who is helping her figure out what is going on. She has what is known as a “circadian rhythm disorder.” She was basically a night owl; her body clock is shifted so that she can fall asleep and wake up later. I figured that out because the sleep diary showed that on weekends she slept later and woke up later and felt fine. I treated her with the appropriate therapy for someone with circadian rhythm problems- which is a combination of light therapy and a short course of melatonin. Her sleep diary reflected the improvement. She did not require any sleeping pills.

It is advisable that you fill out the diary in the morning when you wake and not in the middle of the night. You fill it out 7 days a week. In the sleep diary, you would note the following:

  • Time you go to bed and time you are out of bed
  • Time you fall asleep
  • Time you wake up in the morning
  • The number of times you wake up at night and how long it took you to fall asleep
  • Note any naps.
  • How you feel during the day (active, relaxed, tired, sleepy)
  • Any medications you took

Here is a sample sleep diary from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: