Tracking your sleep and sleep habits in a Sleep Journal can help you greatly improve your sleep problems.
Sleep is so important to our general well-being. A good night’s sleep can help our productivity, aid our memory, lower our heart attack risks and so much more.
Yet so many of us don’t ever have a good night’s sleep, for many varied reasons. Our brains may be too wired from a hectic exhausting day. We have worries and problems that keep us awake. We have habits that affect us sleeping well, all through the night.
Keeping a sleep journal, and recording when you sleep, how you slept, and the situations around each night’s sleep, can quickly help you identify patterns and problems. Knowing these problems and patterns can help you fix them, and lead you to a much better sleep.
There are electronic fitness trackers that can track your sleep, but they can only tell you so much. They can tell you what time you fell asleep, what time you woke up, how long you slept for etc. But they cannot tell you things that keeping a sleep journal can. A sleep journal keeps far more in-depth information about your sleep.
Keeping a sleep journal can help you understand events surrounding your sleep, that may affect your sleep and how you sleep. You may know that you are just not sleeping well, but you can’t put your finger on exactly why you are not sleeping well.
But a sleep journal can help you see where your daily and evening problems are, that may be causing a bad night’s sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, and hope for a better night’s sleep, every night, a journal can be a really good starting point.
Keep a Sleep Diary
A sleep diary will enable you to record your day, so you can see how what you did during the day and evening affected your sleep.
You can record what type of day it was – a weekend or a work day for instance. You can track what food and drink you had during the day, and after a certain time period.
You can also track any medication you may have taken that day, and how your mood was during the day. You can also track how you felt the next day after your sleep, if you woke up during the night, and if you had a bad/good night.
By tracking all these things you can see if there is a pattern to your sleep problems. Perhaps you are eating your dinner too late in the evening, which is leading to sleep issues after a big meal too late in the day. You may be taking a certain medication that you can link to a disrupted night’s sleep. You could be having a bad night if you are drinking too many cups of coffee during the day, or after a certain time of day.
Tracking your behavior each day, every day, will very soon show you patterns and problems. Once you know those patterns and problems you can take steps to fix them.
Track your Sleep Inducing Habits
Tracking the things that you can practice that should lead to a good night’s sleep means that you can see what is working, and what isn’t working for you every night.
The things that can help lead to a better night’s sleep include morning exercise, sunlight during the day, no caffeine after a certain time, and no use of electronic devices after a certain time of day.
By using a tracking grid every day, you can track if you are doing those things that can really help you sleep. You can also track if you are meditating, having a bath or warm shower, reading, journaling, or whatever else helps before bed.
Tracking all the habits that you practice that induce and help sleep, can help you see clearly what works, and what doesn’t work for you. Once you know those things, you can take steps to fix them, add them, or eliminate them.
Track your Dreams
You may just think that those dreams you are having most nights are just weird things that can happen to our brains, that happen to everyone. But there are numerous scientific studies that have found that we dream for a reason, and tracking our dreams can greatly enhance our understanding of our health – both physical and mental.
Patterns of certain dreams can show your emotional state much more clearly. Because dreams are not subject to the censorship we unconsciously apply to our thinking every day, they are more likely to show emotions and fears. By seeing patterns in certain dreams, we can see where our fears and issues in life lie.
Dreams can also be a great indicator of our emotional and physical health. They can also allow us to be more creative, more in touch with our feelings, and also help with our relationships with others.
Tracking your dreams can be very illuminating, and could show you where your fears and problems lie in everyday life. Check out this article from Psychology Today about why you should track your dreams.
What can you learn about yourself from Tracking your Sleep?
As I touched on above, there are numerous things you can learn about your sleep habits from tracking your sleep and habits, these include:
- How much sleep you actually need. By tracking your sleep and how you felt and acted after that sleep, you can very quickly learn what your ideal sleep amount is.
- What foods and drink affect your sleep, and what you should and shouldn’t avoid
- When in the day or evening you should exercise for more beneficial sleep
- What time you should cut off the use of electronic devices
- The ideal time to eat your evening meal
- What gives you a better night’s sleep – a warm bath, a shower, meditating, or yoga etc before bedtime.
Not only will you learn more about your habits and how they affect your sleep, once you are sleeping better your body will really thank you for it. Among the benefits of getting a better night’s sleep that you will see and feel are:
- Better concentration and memory during the day
- A better mood and less irritability during the day
- Less health issues, such as colds and other illnesses
- A more improved, better immune system to ward off illnesses
- Less fatigue and tiredness during the day
- Better appetite, leading to weight loss and less binge snacking and eating
You may have a general idea of what is affecting your sleep each night, but you won’t truly understand it, or know all the factors affecting your sleep until you track your sleep and sleeping patterns.
Just like you would keep a food diary if you were trying to identify what foods were causing allergies, keeping a sleep journal is tracking all the things that do and don’t affect your sleep.
A sleep journal is a great process of elimination of bad habits and bad behavior. Just spending a few minutes each day tracking those behaviors can have amazing affects on your health. It only takes a few minutes, keeping a sleep journal is not time intensive at all.
You need sleep just as you need fresh air, food and water. So make getting a good night’s sleep a big priority in your life. Keep a sleep journal to better understand your body and your sleep and sleeping patterns.
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Tracking your sleep in a sleep journal can greatly help you get a better night’s sleep.