Sleep Journals: Why and How to Keep Them

Posted by Emma Carlton - Buying and Merchandising Manager on 9th Nov 2023

Sleep Journals: Why and How to Keep Them

With so much going on in your day to day life it can be tough to keep track of the simple things. Things like how much sleep you’re getting, what you’re eating and drinking and how you’re feeling at different times of the day. And though keeping a journal may seem like a big time commitment when you already have more than enough on your plate, journaling for sleep can help you to keep handy tabs on your sleep routine, alert you to significant changes and improve your awareness of your body and the routines it needs for health and happiness. Ultimately, keeping a sleep journal can help you to make changes that could improve your sleep.

Fancy giving it a try? Keeping a sleep health journal doesn’t have to be hard work and it certainly doesn’t require any financial investment (although if you really want that glittery bullet journal who are we to say no?).

Here we’ll cover everything you need to know, from the benefits of sleep journaling to details of the all-important info you’ll want to include, plus some handy tips from those in the know to get you started.

Why Keep a Sleep Tracker Journal?

There are lots of reasons that you might choose to start keeping a sleep tracking journal. Perhaps you’ve noticed you’re becoming increasingly tired during the day. Maybe you’re waking at night and can’t figure out why. In some cases your GP might even ask you to track your sleep in response to a particular issue. But the best time to get cracking on that sleep health journal? Today! Now! ASAP! By keeping a simple daily record of your sleep health you’ll be able to keep tabs on your schedule and recognise sleep issues as they arise. We would hope that your doctor will be mightily impressed with your record keeping skills too.

A sleep journal helps you to calculate your sleep time

You probably have a vague idea of how much sleep you get each night, particularly during the working week when you set that alarm for the same time every morning. However, a sleep journal allows you to tot up your daily and weekly sleep hours and make an assessment of how little sleep is too little and, conversely, how much sleep is too much (yes, there can be such a thing!) for you.

Journaling helps to pinpoint changes in your sleep health

Often we don’t notice small changes in our health until they become larger, impactful changes and that goes for sleep health too. Jotting down anything you notice about your sleep – waking unexpectedly, struggling to drop off or finding you wake unrefreshed – from day one can help you to uncover causes and make changes before the problem becomes a bigger issue.

Keeping a sleep diary can help you find ways to improve your sleep

It’s often hard to know exactly what’s interfering with a good night’s sleep but a sleep journal is an invaluable way to help you make improvements. A daily rundown of sleep times along with other useful information can give you an overview of what’s causing problems and, just as crucially, what you need for a great night’s sleep. Sometimes sorting out your sleep can be as simple as recognising that you’re way more tired the morning after an onion heavy dinner or that a Thursday morning meeting is giving you a restless night. On the other hand, you might discover that you always sleep like a baby after an evening gym visit or feel more energised when you wake at 7:30 instead of 8am.

What to Include in Your Sleep Health Journal

A woman smiling, sat cross-legged on her bed while filling out her sleep journal

If you’ve decided that sleep journaling is something you’d like to try, you might be confused about where to start. When it comes to recording sleep data there are a handful of things that you’ll definitely want to include as well as some non-essential things that it can be useful to jot down:

The information your sleep journal needs to include:

  • Your bedtime: be sure to note down the time that you climb into bed each night. No matter whether you’re a night owl or burrowing under that duvet at 9pm, this is key data for your diary
  • Your wake up time: whether you wake naturally or with an alarm, it’s important to note the time that you rise each morning, helping you to calculate your total sleep time
  • The quality of your sleep: a tricky one perhaps but try to record how well you feel you slept – did you wake feeling refreshed or could you have done with a couple more hours?
  • How long it took you to fall asleep: you may have opted for a 10pm bedtime but this doesn’t necessarily mean you were snoring by 10:05pm. Though you might not know the precise time, try to make an educated guess at how long it took you to drop off after lights out
  • Any interruptions: make a note of how often you wake overnight. Did something disturb you? How long did it take you to fall asleep again?

Useful additional information for your sleep diary

  • Naps and snoozes: if you took a power nap during the day or dropped off for another half an hour after your alarm sounded it may be useful to keep a note of the timing and duration of your additional snooze
  • Consumption of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol: all three of these substances can impact the quality of your sleep so it’s a good idea to keep a note of what you’ve sipped and smoked and how much
  • The food you’ve eaten: believe it or not consuming the ‘wrong’ food can interrupt your sleep. The problem, however, is that different foods affect different people in different ways. Jot down details of anything you eat from dinner onwards to help uncover patterns
  • Your exercise routine: from a relaxing walk to a full workout routine, exercise might help you to sleep better. Take note to properly see the effects of your efforts
  • Medications taken: note down the medications you take throughout the day, prescribed or not. This can be useful info for your GP if they suspect your medicine is interfering with your sleep

Using Your Sleep Journal for a Sleep Health Check

Now you have all this lovely sleep data how should you use it? We suggest putting aside some time for a good old fashioned sleep health check, sometimes referred to as a sleep hygiene check-in.

What is sleep hygiene?

A phrase coined back in the 70s, sleep hygiene refers to a method used to tackle insomnia. Experts in sleep hygiene assess a subject’s sleep habits and make recommendations to help improve their sleep. But you don’t need qualifications to carry out your own sleep hygiene check…

How to assess your own sleep health

Once you’ve collected a good amount of data across a period of a month or more you’re ready to carry out a sleep health check. Here are just a few things to ask yourself:

  • Do I get enough sleep?: if you’re getting less than the recommended eight hours and feeling sluggish during the day you may need to adjust your schedule for earlier nights or later wake ups
  • Is my sleep schedule consistent?: an irregular sleep schedule could be playing havoc with your mind and body. A consistent sleep and wake time could set you up for a much easier, less yawn-filled day
  • Am I struggling to sleep or waking at night?: if getting to sleep or staying asleep is tough a sleep journal can help you find the cause. Maybe it’s a snoring partner who needs a different pillow, a source of stress that needs to be dealt with during the daytime or daytime naps that you could do without
  • Is my sleep satisfactory?: do you bounce out of bed in the morning ready and raring to face the day or do you rarely feel refreshed? Sometimes you may think that you’re sleeping well but your body’s trying to tell you otherwise. Unrefreshing sleep can be a sign that something’s not right – maybe your mattress needs to be replaced or perhaps you need thicker curtains or more fresh air
  • Are there any patterns causing my sleep issues?: there can be a whole host of reasons you’re not sleeping well enough and a detailed sleep journal can help you to uncover them. Looking back over your diary can you see a pattern? If food, drink or particular circumstances are causing a problem (or if they’re helping you to enjoy a better night’s sleep) take note and make a change

Our Favourite Sleep and Health Journal Tips and Tricks

The committed sleep journal-ers among us have gathered together the tips and tricks that will help you in creating a useful sleep health journal and staying committed to those daily updates…

A sleep tracker bullet journal keeps things simple

Tracking your sleep habits doesn’t have to be a challenging job and it can be a mistake to over-commit to something you don’t have the time or energy to continue. Simple bullet points detailing the basics of your daily sleep routine and any noticeable changes or problems is all that’s required.

Get creative with your journaling

If you find that keeping a sleep diary helps you to find routine why not experiment with other types of journaling? You may find it helpful to write down some thoughts about your day as it ends or use your journal to make lists to get yourself organised ready for the next morning.

Keeping a sleep tracking journal needn’t be expensive

While there are any number of pretty diaries out there and, for the more tech-minded among us, apps aplenty, you really don’t need any of that stuff for effective sleep journaling. A simple notebook and biro or the notes app on your smartphone will do the job.

Make journaling for sleep part of your routine

To get the most from your sleep tracker journal be sure to work on filling out the important details listed above every day. There’s bound to be times when you forget but don’t be disheartened! Keep on journaling until it becomes part of your routine alongside brushing your teeth and having your morning coffee.

Keep your sleep health journal on your bedside table

Storing your journal on or in your bedside table keeps it in easy reach and ensures that it’s the last thing you see at night and the first thing you spot when you get up – the ideal reminder to pick up a pen and get scribbling.

Beware blue light!

If you opt to track your sleep using a smartphone app or using a laptop or tablet try to keep your updates for the morning. The blue light of gadget screens is well known to be a sleep disrupter and should be avoided in those pre-sleep hours.

Don’t forget your wake up routine

When we talk sleep health we often focus on the importance of a good night time routine but you shouldn’t neglect your morning routine either! Aim to wake at the same time each day and try to get plenty of sunlight while giving your body the time it needs to awaken and ready itself for the day ahead.

Improving Your Sleep Health at Bensons for Beds

Good sleep hygiene is about more than just a regular bedtime and getting the full eight hours. To ensure you wake refreshed, you need a bed that gives you the comfort and support you need. Here at Bensons for Beds our sleep experts use up to the minute guidelines and cutting edge technology, including our clever sleeppro® system, to help you to find the perfect bed, mattress and pillows to suit your sleep routine.

Pay a visit to your nearest Bensons for Beds showroom today or give us a call on 0808 144 6160 to find out more about how we can help you to enjoy a better night’s sleep.

authors profile
Emma Carlton
Buying and Merchandising Manager
Emma has worked at Bensons for Beds for 10 years and is a fundamental part of the Bensons’ team, her wealth of breadth and knowledge is invaluable. Emma’s drive, determination, and tenacity ensures we provide our customers with the market leading products to suit our customer individual needs, at great value prices.
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