If you have trouble sleeping and are going to see the doctor, you will likely be asked to create a sleep diary. What is a sleep diary for?
The sleep diary helps the doctor assess the severity of the problem and also the evolution and progress of the patient during treatment.
Through the sleep diary, patients can better understand their problem (causes and scope) and modify their attitude towards the problem. The sleep diary also works as an important positive reinforcement tool because patients can see how their sleep is improving with treatment.
What should be included in the sleep diary?
-Time you go to bed at night.
-Time you wake up in the morning.
-Time it takes to fall asleep (approximately).
-Number of times you wake you through the night.
-Time and frequency of naps.
-The quality of sleep (restful sleep, if you wake up tired…).
-Problem of daytime sleepiness.
-Use of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and drugs.
-Snoring, breathing pauses or unusual physical movements during sleep. Your bedmate can give this information.
-Presence of precipitating factors such as pain and / or emotional stress.
How to target data?
You must complete the sleep diary every day before, during and after treatment. It is a daily estimate of how you sleep at night before and how you felt during the day. There is no need to collect data with complete accuracy. In fact, you should not be constantly watching the clock at night because it can affect your sleep.
The doctor will decide how long you should track your sleep habits (usually at least two weeks).
Sometimes, it may also be useful to collect sleep information from the person who sleeps with you to know how his/her sleep is and the possible influence of your domestic environment.
The person sleeping with you can provide information about abnormal things during your sleep such as snoring, odd movements, and spasms…
A practical method for assessing sleep problems
Although no objective data ir achieved with sleep diaries, these are very useful exercises.
Furthermore, as the data is tracked daily over prolonged periods, diaries may even be more useful than objective medical tests performed in sleep laboratories over the course of one or more isolated nights.
The main challenge with sleep diaries is the commitment of the patients, who often forget to record the information.
Despite its limitations, the sleep diary is the most economical and practical method to assess insomnia and its treatment.