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Tracking your sleep schedule can help you maintain healthy sleep patterns and improve your sleep quality. Learn how to record your nightly sleep with a diary.

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What Is a Sleep Diary?

A sleep diary is a written log documenting your sleep schedule. You can keep a simple sleep log in a pocket notebook by your bedside. Use it to record the details of last night's sleep from bedtime to wake-up time, and include notes about sleep quality. Keeping a sleep diary has less to do with format and more to do with consistency. Choose a format you can easily incorporate into your bedtime routine.

Why Keep a Sleep Diary?

If you have a sleep disorder or simply struggle to fall asleep, you can keep a sleep diary to create and maintain healthy sleep habits. Consistent sleep is essential for maintaining your health. Prioritizing a good night's sleep can stave off daytime drowsiness, fogginess, and other related problems, and a sleep diary can be a helpful tool for fixing your sleep schedule.

How to Keep a Sleep Diary

To keep a sleep diary, record your sleep and wake cycles in your notebook each morning and night. The following are some key metrics to include in your sleep diary:

  • The time you got into bed
  • The approximate time you fell asleep
  • Any times you woke up during the night, and for how long
  • The time you woke up in the morning
  • The time you got out of bed after waking up
  • Any sleep medicine you used (including supplements like melatonin, as well as over-the-counter medications)
  • Any current health issues
  • Intake of alcoholic or caffeinated drinks before bed
  • Hours of any daytime napping

If your diary reveals inconsistent sleep patterns, try to maintain a sleep and wake schedule at the same time each day, ideally in alignment with your circadian rhythm. You can also bring your sleep diary to a healthcare professional to review the metrics together. A sleep specialist will be better able to help you tackle sleep problems if they have a clear sense of your sleep habits.

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Want to Learn More About Catching Those Elusive Zs?

Saw some of the best darn logs of your life with a MasterClass Annual Membership and exclusive instructional videos from Dr. Matthew Walker, the author of Why We Sleep and the founder-director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Between Matthew’s tips for optimal snoozing and info on discovering your body’s ideal rhythms, you’ll be sleeping more deeply in no time.

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