Sleep Diary: A Valuable Tool to Help Doctors Help You With Your Sleep Apnea

It’s not normal to feel sleepy during the day. It’s not normal to have trouble falling asleep, and it’s not normal to have problems getting out of bed in the morning. Because so many people in the world think that kind of behaviour is normal, they do not seek treatment for the problems or the underlying issues.

Almost ninety percent of people who suffer from sleeping disorders like Sleep Apnea have not been diagnosed. Many people who suffer from Sleep Apnea fail to recognize their symptoms. Because so many of the disorder’s symptoms occur while you are asleep, it can be difficult to notice your own symptoms. Keeping a sleep diary can help point out some of the disorder’s incognito symptoms.

Keeping a Sleep Diary

A sleep diary is just what it sounds like, a personal diary about sleep. The diary is a tool used for recording information about all of your unique daily sleeping habits and patterns. An inclusive an accurate record of sleep can point out changes or problems in your experience with sleep.

Every day of your life is filled with new experiences and activities. You may not realize it now, but there are many of your lifestyle factors that may be having an affect your health and quality of sleep at night. Updating the diary everyday will point out some parts of your life that are having consequences on your sleep. You may notice that a lot of your seemingly unrelated lifestyle choices are having an impact on the way you sleep.

Not only can keeping a diary help you understand and manage your sleep, it can also assist you in identifying problems that you wouldn’t have recognized otherwise. It can also be a really beneficial tool for medical professionals; an excessive record of sleeping habits can help them understand the causes of sleep problems.

Sleep Diaries Can Help Target Symptoms of:

  • Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Irregular Heart Beat
  • Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Respiratory Illness

Writing Your Sleep Diary

When you start keeping a sleep diary, it’s important to know the importance of recording all of the tiny details, as well as the obvious problems, that relate to your sleep. Any scrap of information could be the key to recognizing your symptoms, so try your best not to leave anything out. Information that seems trivial today could be the missing link to identifying and treating your sleeping problems tomorrow. Make sure that you write in the diary every single day, every time you notice something sleep-related. If you are too tired to write, do it anyway; write that you’re tired.

Most medical professions that suggest keeping a diary recommend thorough record keeping in the diary for at least three to four weeks. The more information you have recorded, the more information there is to use in the future. The longer you keep a sleep diary, the easier it will be to identify the changes in your sleeping habits; it can identify when your symptoms flare and when they improve.
The suggested contents of a sleep diary may vary slightly from doctor to doctor, but most of the components are pretty standard.

A Sleep Diary Should Include:

  • Logs of your daily sleep schedule
    • At what time did you attempt to go to sleep?
    • How much time did you spend trying to fall asleep?
    • What was the time of arousal during the night? How long you were awake? How many times did you wake up during the night?
    • What time did you wake up in the morning?
  • An estimated amount of actual sleep you experience during each night
    • The total number of hours in your sleeping schedule each day
    • A thorough account of waking up
    • What caused you to wake up?
    • How much energy did you have?
    • How did you feel? Did you feel tired, groggy, disoriented, angry, alert, startled, nervous, refreshed, etc?
  • A record of caffeine and energy consumption throughout the day
  • A record of medications taken
    • Name of medication
    • Dosage information
    • The time of each medication consumption
    • Side-effects of medications
  • Did you take your supplements and medication wisely?
  • A thorough record and timeline of any and naps taken during the day
  • A record of your daily physical activity and exercise
    • How long did you exercise?
    • What did you do?
    • How hard did you work?
    • How did you feel before and after?
    • Did you walk around a lot?
    • Did you drive a lot?
    • Were you sitting down most of the day?
    • Did you perform any other physically strenuous activities like sexual intercourse or work in physically strenuous conditions?
  • A thorough tracking of energy levels and sleepiness throughout the day
    • When did you have the most energy?
    • When were you most tired?
    • Did you become sleepy after meals?
    • Did any sleepiness come on suddenly?
  • A record of eating habits
    • What time did you eat?
    • What did you eat?
    • When were you most hungry?
    • What was your appetite like throughout the whole day?
    • Did you eat heavy meals or light meals?
    • Did you snack a lot in between meals?
  • A record of daily emotions and attitude
    • Where you irritable, or more moody than normal?
    • Did you experience any sadness or depression?
    • Were you unenthused or apathetic?
    • Did you become angry for any reason?
    • How well did you focus throughout the day?
    • How was your memory? Did you forget anything important?
    • Did you experience hyperactivity?
    • Were you really stressed?
    • Did your emotions occur suddenly or without reason?
  • A record of what you did in the last hour before going to bed and the first hour after awakening
  • A record of all alcohol and drugs consumed
    • Did you consume any sleeping pills or alcohol?
  • Record any changes in your daytime routine

Organize your Sleep Diary

An effective sleep diary is an organized sleep diary. In order to properly analyze the contents of the diary, the contents must be categorized in a neat and consistent matter. You can easily download already existing templates from the internet for free. If a doctor recommended that you keep the diary, then they may want you to include specific information in a specific way; they may give you their own personally preferred template for organizing your information. You may even want to create your sleep diary from scratch and organize information in your own unique way.

Whatever method you choose, the key is consistency. Keep the style and order of the information in your diary consistent from day to day. You can even write a record of all of the activities that you performed during the day; write the time that you began and ended each activity. Knowing what you were doing and where you were at all times of the day can help you from forgetting important details that should be included.

Some people like to include charts and graphs that visually display changes in sleeping habits, energy, appetite, and mood throughout the day. Visual images of your daily experiences make reoccurring patterns easily identifiable. Clear headings and bullet points will help you keep your information neat and clean. Separating your nighttime activities from your daytime activities will help you organize your information for quick and easy reference.

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