This article will cover what to record in your tracking journal so you can evaluate where you are and how you're improving. I'll break this into sections to make it easier to understand. Remember your goal in all of this is to improve your sleep quality and sleep less. The first part to tackle is getting quality sleep. If we simply reduce our time sleeping without improving the quality, we will be drowsy and may cause car accidents, increase the likelihood of getting sick and have no energy for our favourite activities such as BJJ.
Before we start, remember that the two biggest things to help here are increasing your light exposure and to exercise daily. Once that is achieved further tweaks can only be made by understanding raw
data that we will collect in our sleep journal.
Evaluate Body Temperature Rhythm
This section gives insight into your circadian rhythm by showing you where you are now so you can make adjustments. So in your journal record the following:
- What time do you wake up and do you feel drowsy? If so for how long?
- When in the afternoon do you feel pressure to nap i.e. when are you tired in the afternoon?
- When do you feel the most energetic during the day?
- When do you start to feel drowsy?
- When do you feel the most pressure to sleep at night?
- If you are ripped from sleep by an alarm and you feel lethargic, your temperature is likely too low and hasn't starting rising. This generally means you need to change when you go to bed by up to 40 minutes. When you stop feeling tired your body temp has risen to normal levels.
- This is when your body temp drops and is the ideal time for a 10 to 45 minute nap.
- At this point your body temp is at its highest and is the best time for your high intensity exercise.
- This is when your body temp starts to drop and prepares you for sleep in an hour or two. As discussed previously this can be delayed by exercise and other techniques.
- When the pressure to sleep is at its highest you should head to bed. This is the point your body temp rapidly drops.
This section is to check how much light you are getting.
- How often did you use sunglasses?
- When you wake do you instantly get sunlight in your eyes?
- How much time did you spend outside: at sunrise? Between noon and 6pm? At sunset?
- How much time do you spend indoors?
- Sunglasses should not be used at sunrise and sunset. These times have the lowest UV radiation which is what sunglasses protect us from. Limit your usage as much as possible. The mid-afternoon has the highest UV radiation so sunglasses may be necessary if you are uncomfortable, or live on the equator.
- Hitting the snooze button or remaining in bed for a few minutes means this is a definite no. When you wake aim to immediately get up and look out the window for a minute.
- We break this up into these timing as sunrise and sunset have up to 10,000 luxes of light, whereas noon to sunset is between 50,000 and 100,000 luxes. If you are getting less than an hour of high intensity light per day you are light deprived. Plan to go outside more or at least get an artificial light box, especially in winter.
- Spending time indoors is equivalent to complete darkness for your eyes. The more darkness exposure during the day, the worse your sleep will be. This works hand-in-hand with the previous point but highlights just how much time we spend inside.
- What time do you generally exercise and for how long?
- How intense are the sessions eg do you sweat, does your heart rate and respiration increase?
- Early morning exercise helps increase our body temperature quicker, so we become more alert. Late evening exercise will prevent our body temp from dropping low enough for a good sleep. The longer we exercise, the more impact it can have on changing our body temperature.
- High intensity exercise where we are close to our maximum heart rate and sweating a lake should be avoided in the late evening ie after 9pm-10pm. This will prevent our body temp to drop as low as required for deep sleep. Light exercise, where we go at a steady pace slightly above a warm-up, is OK in the late evening but not as beneficial in the early morning to increase temperature.
- Do you smoke?
- How often do you drink alcohol?
- Do you drink coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages?
- Do you eat heavy meals 3 to 4 hours prior to sleep?
- How much water do you drink per day?
- Do you sleep on your stomach?
- Do you change your sleeping habits on the weekend?
- Do you take sleeping pills or stimulants?
- When do you currently go to sleep and wake up?
- How long does it take to fall asleep?
- Do you wake during the night and can't get back to sleep?
- Rate your sleep on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of quality.
- Rate your energy levels on a scale of 1 to 10 when you wake up.
- Are you stressed?
- Do you take daily naps and if so for how long?
- How long are you usually awake, remember to subtract any nap time?
- Do you use the bedroom as anything other than a place to sleep and have sex?