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Keeping a Sleep Diary

Keep a sleep diaryThe amount of sleep that we need at night varies greatly between each individual.  Even with each person, the sleep requirement alters, depending on age, lifestyle, and health.  Keeping a sleep diary is the way to keep watch over the needs of your body.

How much sleep do we need?

Most adult women have a sleep requirement of somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep each day.  If the individual sleep requirement is consistently short, then a sleep debt can accumulate.  This can lead to mental or physical fatigue.  Even a sleep that is shortened by just half-an-hour a day can amount to some serious problems if the sleep debt is not paid back.   Therefore, it is important that each woman knows the exact amount of sleep that her body requires, so that she can ensure that she is functioning at her very best.

Your sleep requirement should be reviewed by completing a sleep diary test every 2 years.  This is because the body changes along with lifestyle.

Side Effects

Some of the side effects of not sleeping for the correct amount of time include:

  • tiredness throughout the day;
  • difficulty in going to sleep;
  • struggling to stay concentrated; and
  • the need for caffeine in order to stay alert

How to keep a Sleep Diary

The best way to tell if you are getting enough sleep and if you are getting the right kind of sleep is to keep a sleep diary.  This is not something that you will need to keep continuously doing.  Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks is enough for your to be able to get a much better understanding of the needs of your body.  You will be able to identify habits and trends which can be altered to improve your overall health and function throughout the day.

Below is the Sleep Diary provided by the National Sleep Foundation which you are free to download and print out.

Download sleep diary

How to interpret the results of your Sleep Diary

Once you have kept your sleep diary for a couple of weeks, you are in a very strong position to make some tweaks to your life, which will improve your ability to function at the highest level.  Here are some things to look for:

  • What is the average amount of sleep over two weeks?  Add up all of your sleep over two weeks, then divide it by 14, to get to the average amount of sleep that you are having a night.
  • Is the sleep varying greatly?  For example, are you sleeping two hours one night, then 10 hours the next.  This is problably a sign that something is wrong with your pre-sleep routine which is overstimulating you on the first night then is exhausting you on the second night.
  • Are you waking up more than once during the night?  This is probably a sign that something is not allowing you have a peaceful sleep.  If you don’t have a hungary baby in the next room, then you should be looking for the cause of these disturbances and finding ways to stop them.
  • How many caffeinated drinks are you consuming each day? The amount that a person can tolerate is different for each individual.  Assess if you think that lowing the amount of caffeine may improve the sleep results.
  • What was your pre-sleep routine?  Are you making sure that your mind and body have at least one hour to wind down before going to sleep.
  • Do you look at your phone/iPad in bed?  Apparently, the blue light emitted from these divices, coupled with the added stimulation, are a huge cause of sleep deprivation.
  • Other factors:  Your sleep diary test will enable you to consider many other factors which may contribute to sleep problems.  Some of these include exercise, medications, naps, mood, alcohol, and food.

What were the results of your sleep diary test?

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