I'm so groggy when I get up. I yawn all day long and need a nap by noon. What's going on?
One way to find out is to keep a sleep log, a different kind of diary. It's one of the best ways to tell whether you're getting enough quality sleep, and whether you have signs of a sleep disorder.
Insomnia and other sleep problems have serious consequences. They can lead to depression and poor health, work problems, and accidents. So figuring out the causes - and ways to cope with them - can have big payoffs.
Your bedtime story
All you will need is a pencil and some paper - and a couple of weeks of dedication. Keep your sleep log by your bed so you will be more likely to fill it out.
Each evening before bed, write down the events of the day. Your log might include:
- How many and what time you had any caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, or soda
- Number of alcoholic drinks and time you had them
- Nap times and length
- Exercise times and lengths
- Any medicines you took and when
- If you felt drowsy during the day
Each morning, write down the events of the night, such as:
- Time you went to bed
- Time you woke up
- How long it took to fall asleep
- Number of hours slept
- Number of times you woke up during the night
- Total time awake during the night
- Medications taken, and when
- How awake and refreshed you feel
Add details about why you woke up. For instance, perhaps a dog was barking all night or you had to use the bathroom several times. Or, you might have had an unusual day that included a stressful meeting or day off from work. Write that down, too.
Keep your sleep log for about 2 weeks.
Read it and sleep
Just as a more traditional diary can help you understand certain things about yourself, a sleep log can help you see patterns in your sleep habits.
Your sleep log may suggest some changes to your routine that would help you drift off and stay asleep. For instance, maybe you didn't realize that every time you work out in the evening, you have trouble sleeping.
But it might not be as simple as that. In fact, your sleep log could help reveal a sleep disorder. Some prominent clues might include
- Consistently taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep
- Consistently waking more than a few times or for long periods each night
- Taking frequent naps throughout the day
- Feeling sleepy and sluggish during the day
- Falling asleep at inappropriate times
Talk with your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms, and take your sleep log to your appointment. It will help your doctor diagnose and treat your sleep problem.
You can download a personal sleep log form here: http://www.myoptumhealth.com/portal/ManageMyHealth/Sleep+Log
Created on 06/08/1999
Updated on 07/07/2011
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Two week sleep diary.
- Helpguide. Sleep disorders and sleeping problems: symptoms, treatment, and help for common sleep disorders.