So you’re tired right now. This afternoon was difficult to stay focused at work. Now, it’s 7:00 and jumping into bed sounds more appealing than a million dollar deposit into your bank account. With kids, chores, and work, going to bed early is practically impossible. Sound familiar? I’ve lived it, too. Based on these symptoms, something may be going on. The best way to find out is by keeping a diary.
Keeping a sleep log or diary is easy. Mine is a small “week at a glance” calendar. You can also get a notebook at the dollar store. If you’re a member of the digital revolution, Evernote is a great app for this kind of thing. Make a commitment to write in your sleep diary every day.
So what kind of information should you track in a sleep log? My goal is to track enough information to correlate the data to how I feel during the day. Here’s a place to start:
Bedtime, Wake Up Time, Total Sleep
If you have a Fitbit, this part is easy. If not, write down approximate time you turn the lights out, wake up time, and do a little math to figure out total sleep. Please don’t keep looking at the clock to get the “exact” time you go to sleep. An estimate is good enough. Note that you’re probably getting less sleep than you think.
Rate how you feel
If you feel normal, log an OK. Use a plus sign (+) for days with lots of energy, and log a “tired” for tough days. On occasion, my log gets a “very tired”.
What did you do during the day? Walk a couple of miles during the day or hit the gym? I log Qigong practice, meditation, and exercise.
Your health can affect the way you feel. Having an illness or pain will definitely correlate to quality of rest and energy level.
Sometimes, I write in other information to capture additional context on the day in question. Keeping track of trips, events, or times the children are sick can be helpful when analyzing the data.
Here are two samples from my log:
For the week of March 7, all 7 days were normal energy days (OK), with 3 days of Qigong practice, and 2 days with an upset stomach.
For the week of January 11, 4 normal energy days and 3 tired (one very tired), one day with a headache, one day with a sick child, and also logged a visit over the weekend.
So Now What?
Keep your sleep log for a few weeks and analyze the data. See if tells you something. Several things jumped out from my log, and part 2 of this article will talk about the details. Many of the items were actionable, and keeping the diary helped me figure out what to do next. So start your sleep log today, email me your questions, and stay tuned for part 2.
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