How can keeping a sleep diary help diagnose a sleep problem?

Diagnosing your sleep problems will be easier for your doctor if you use a sleep diary to track the daily details of your sleep patterns for at least two weeks. He or she may give you a form, or you can make your own, to record information like this:
  • What time you went to bed
  • How long it took you to fall asleep
  • If and when you awoke during the night
  • What caused you to awaken, if known
  • How long you were awake
  • What you did when you were awake
  • What time you awoke in the morning
  • If and when you took a nap, and for how long
If you have a bedmate, ask him or her to add any other observations about your sleep. These details can be very helpful to your healthcare provider.

Also, make notes each day about other lifestyle factors that may affect your sleep. Here are a few:
  • Caffeine intake (coffee, tea, chocolate, colas, etc.)
  • Alcohol intake
  • Nicotine use
  • Exercise habits
  • Medication use

And don't forget to let your healthcare provider know about any other concerns, stresses, or lifestyle factors that may be affecting your sleep. He or she will use this, along with other information, to complete your diagnosis.

A sleep diary can help you keep track of things that affect your sleep patterns. Your healthcare provider can give you a sleep diary, and printable examples can be found on the Internet. Your sleep diary can provide helpful information to your healthcare professional and give you a place to record questions or other things you'd like to discuss during your medical appointments. Keep your sleep diary handy -- on your bedside table, for example -- and fill it out for 10 days in a row. Take your diary with you when you visit your healthcare professional.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.