Should I Keep a Sleep Journal?

Should I Keep a Sleep Journal?

Writing Your Way to Better Sleep: The Art of Sleep Journaling

For many people, sleep is as much a struggle as it is a release. An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans face chronic or ongoing sleep disorders. One in three adults — roughly 84 million people — don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Depending on your sleep condition, sleep specialists prescribe a range of treatment methods:

  • Sleep aids that help with insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Melatonin supplements that reinforce your sleep-wake cycles
  • Light therapy to treat seasonal affective disorder or circadian rhythm disorders
  • Dental devices that help reposition your jaw and regulate sleep apnea

Alongside your treatment regimen, doctors often recommend another response to sleep disturbances — the sleep journal. Documenting your thoughts, observations, and sleep habits in written form can help you better understand your own sleep patterns. It also provides insight for any clinician helping you achieve a diagnosis.

What is a Sleep Journal?

A sleep journal is a logbook where you can track information about all things sleep — including sleep patterns, interruptions, even dreams. Many people choose to keep a written sleep journal by their bedside, to record the night’s sleep patterns after they wake up. In other cases, people save their sleep journal as a file on their phone or computer.

More important than where you keep your sleep journal is how often you update it. Sleep journals are meant to capture continuous data — information that helps sleep specialists understand your sleep habits over time. This information will vary based on the challenges that might inhibit your sleep. Many people choose to write down data on their sleep hygiene habits, diet, exercise frequency, screen time, stressful situations, and any other facts that might help sleep professionals understand their complete sleep profile.

It’s particularly important to write down any symptoms you experience that might be related to sleep conditions. For example, document any snoring episodes, breathing problems, or triggers that interrupt your sleep-wake cycle. This information can help a sleep specialist draw conclusions between your experiences and any underlying sleep conditions.

Will a Sleep Journal Help Me Sleep?

A sleep journal can absolutely help you achieve better-quality sleep — as long as you use it correctly. While we have nothing against lifestyle journaling, sleep journals are primarily meant to document sleep-related activities and disturbances. Document symptoms, interruptions, habits, or patterns that affect your sleep quality or longevity.

There are several ways a sleep journal can help promote better slumber. It helps to increase your awareness about any sleep-related conditions. After keeping a sleep journal; for several days, you might begin to identify symptoms you didn’t notice before. For example, you might begin to draw parallels between your device usage habits and difficulties in falling asleep.

Sleep journals also help you develop a personalized sleep routine. Once you understand the circumstances surrounding your sleep patterns, you can begin crafting a sleep process that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. This process typically involves following a sleep hygiene checklist to remove distractions, create a comfortable sleep environment, and restore your energy after a long day.

Perhaps the most important benefit of a sleep journal is its usefulness when meeting with a sleep specialist. Sleep specialists study a range of factors that influence your sleep patterns, from the food you eat to the career you lead. During a meeting with a sleep specialist, they’ll likely ask you questions about your sleep patterns and habits over the past few months.

If you’re anything like us, that information can be difficult to remember — particularly when you’re sitting in front of a clinician.

That’s the true benefit of a sleep journal: it helps you record details about your previous night’s sleep, one evening at a time. During a meeting with a sleep specialist, you can reference your sleep journal for all the sleep-related information you might have forgotten. Doctors will use this data to identify the most likely culprits behind your sleep issues.

What Should a Sleep Journal Template Look Like?

Every sleep journal entry should share a few common data points. Each one needs the date and basic sleep details on length and quality.

Here’s a basic template to follow:

Date: _______________________


Wake-Up Time:

Sleep Duration:

Sleep Quality Rating (1-10):

Factors that Influenced Sleep:

Caffeine Intake:

Alcohol Consumption:


Screen Time:

Bedtime Routine:

Emotional State:

Sleep Environment:

Room Temperature:

Noise Level:



Additional Notes:

No one’s asking you to write a book about your previous night’s sleep. Instead, focus on the few details per section that truly highlight how well you slept. Even a few details on your environment, diet, and wake up time can help you make sleep more of a priority each night.

How Do I Start a Sleep Journal?

Starting a sleep journal is a freeing process. There’s no set format or mandatory length for a journal entry. The only requirement is that you document the habits, patterns, and lifestyle factors you believe contribute to your quality of sleep.

Before you put pen to paper or begin typing, there are a few important decisions to make.

Choose Your Journaling Method

First, let’s settle on a preferred journaling method. Some sleepers prefer writing directly into a notebook or onto a notepad. They roll directly out of bed and begin writing, while sleep memories from the previous evening are still fresh. Others prefer to document their thoughts electronically. While one option isn’t better than the other, it’s important that you choose the journaling method you’re more comfortable with.

If you choose to write in a physical notebook, make sure to find one that is sufficiently large for your writing style. Use comfortable writing utensils and high-quality paper that won’t bleed through to the next page.

If you choose to keep a digital sleep journal, consider supplementing your typed thoughts with a sleep-tracking app. They can help you accurately capture sleep metrics alongside any observations you might have.

Choose Sleep Information to Track

It’s also important to identify which information to capture — and what to omit. Some information is essential: write down what time you went to bed, what time you woke up, and any obvious sleep disturbances in between. Identify approximately how long you might have remained awake during those episodes, and what you believe may have caused them.

Sleep specialists also want any information you have on your sleep routine, particularly in the hours leading up to sleep. Capture details on your mood, potential caffeine consumption, and screen time.

You can also capture more subjective information like how well-rested you feel each morning. Identify any parallels between your diet and the sleep it helped create. If you noticed any gastrointestinal discomfort after a particular meal, make sure to record those findings in your journal.

Choose a Journaling Routine

Regularity is the key to a successful sleep journal. Before life gets busy each day, take the time for even a few minutes of productive sleep journaling.Document any major sleep-related observations from the morning or the previous evening. For best results, try to write in your sleep journal at roughly the same time each day. This helps you make time for the new habit while avoiding any days without a journal entry.

Sleep Journaling: the Perfect Companion to the Perfect Mattress

There’s a reason why bedding quality is such an important part of the sleep journaling process. Without the right mattress, all other sleep habits — turning off electronics, dimming lights, maintaining sleep hygiene — can have little effect. The right mattress reinforces sleep quality through support, temperature regulation, and minimizing motion transfer.

Just as easily, the wrong mattress can derail your sleep in ways that increase risks for heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression.

Choosing a mattress should be a deliberate process - one that starts with science. That’s why we created our patented bedMATCH diagnostic sleep system: to connect sleepers with the right mattress based on your individual needs. BedMATCH considers metrics like your height, weight, weight distribution, and body type to pair you with mattress suggestions most likely to help you fall and stay asleep.

Take our three-minute bedMATCH quiz to learn more about the sleep you’re missing, and how the right mattress can help you earn the sleep you deserve.

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