Struggling with disrupted sleep? Waking every day feeling exhausted and unrefreshed? The first step to getting a better night’s sleep is identifying the cause of your sleeplessness. One of the most effective ways to do that is to keep a sleep diary. We take a look at what you should record – and how keeping a sleep log can help.

How a sleep diary can help

There are many reasons that you may be suffering from sleepless nights – even something as simple as having a warm drink before bed can be a key factor in keeping you up. The idea of a sleep diary is to track your routine, helping you to narrow down the factors that may be the cause of your sleeplessness.

The sleep diary itself can be as simple or as high-tech as you want to make it. A notepad or simple diary book works well, as you can lay out the diary in your own style and keep it to hand on your bedside table. If you’re a tech lover, why not get a sleep diary app? These help to organise everything for you, making them easy to keep on top of on a daily basis – in fact, some can even record your snooze habits while you’re asleep. Alternatively, you can find a sleep diary template online and track your sleep patterns from your computer.

Whichever method you choose, here are the key things you’ll want to record:

Monitor your routine

We all know that a lack of routine can make it difficult to sleep. What’s not always so obvious is how bad our own routine actually is. Recording your bedtimes, waking times and the number of times you wake during the night over the course of a few weeks will reveal your overall routine – and any bad habits such as going to bed late. It could also reveal that you wake at a similar time each night – from here, you can start to work out the reason why.


Check what you drink before bed

Diet is another common trigger for sleeplessness. Although a hot drink may initially relax you, making you feel ready to go to sleep, it may not help you get a better night’s sleep. Drinks such as tea and coffee contain high levels of caffeine which can keep you up all night, or even cause night sweats. Alcohol and spicy foods are other common triggers for night sweats too.

Fortunately, your sleep diary is the best way to understand which foods (if any) are disturbing your sleep. In your daily sleep diary, record what you eat and drink in the hours before bed and watch for any correlation between when you eat specific foods and when you wake up. You can then also use your sleep diary to test for triggers – for example, if you regularly have a drink with high caffeine content, skip it for a few nights, and see if it improves your sleep quality.

Keep track of your technology use

Tech such as computer screens and mobile phones have blue lights in to light up the screen. Unfortunately, these lights confuse the brain into thinking it’s day time. If you use a mobile or tablet just before bed, these signals can cause you to lie awake for hours, long after bedtime. Use your sleep diary to track when and how you’re using technology, and if you are guilty of using a mobile or computer before bed, set yourself an hour of switch-off time before you go to sleep, and try not to use tech after that.

Take note of temperature

If you frequently wake during the night, use your sleep diary to make a note of how hot or cold you feel each time your sleep is disturbed. Overheating in bed is one of the most common causes of sleeplessness, but by making simple changes to your sleeping environment, it can also be relatively easy to fix. Sleeping with a window open may help to keep your room at a more comfortable temperature, as will keeping a fan running during the night.

Switching your synthetic bedding for natural materials will also help you to better regulate your body temperature during the night, leading to a less disturbed slumber. Wool bedding encased in cotton covers is a particularly effective way to reduce overheating at night. Try making the change and use your sleep diary to monitor the difference.


By following this guide, you’ll have tracked enough information in your sleep log to find the source of your problem – and will be well on your way to finding a solution, and a much better night’s sleep.


Thinking about trying different bedding to aid your sleep? Learn more about how wool bedding could bring you a better night’s sleep.