Using a sleep journal


We’re all prone to a little exaggeration when we’ve had a bad night’s sleep. I know I’ve said on a few occasions “I didn’t sleep a wink” when i know full well I did get some sleep, just not as much as I’d have liked. It’s not easy to estimate how long we’ve been asleep for regardless of whether we are good sleepers or not.

However, research shows that people with insomnia habitually overestimate the time they take to fall asleep (Franklin, 1981) and underestimate the time they are asleep throughout the night. These errors in estimation and the resulting beliefs about your ability to sleep can create anxiety and compound the problem.

Another interesting sleep study that monitored sleep in both insomnia and regular sleepers found that on average, insomniacs had 364 minutes of sleep (just over 6 hours) and regular sleepers had 419 minutes (just short of 7 hours), showing that insomniacs generally had more sleep than they thought but also had a sufficient amount of sleep. (Stepanski et al, 1988) In this same study, daytime sleepiness was no higher in those with insomnia compared with regular sleepers.

So if we typically have issues with correctly estimating the time it takes to fall asleep and how long we’re asleep for, then why keep a sleep journal? Whilst it’s a disadvantage, it does not preclude their use. (Johns et al, 1971) They are still a really useful tool in determining the relationship between sleeping habits and quality of sleep.

I ask all of my clients to keep a sleep journal. It gives us a starting point to work from, allowing us to identify any behaviours that might be hindering sleep so that we can work to change them. Having a record of your sleeping pattern helps as we move through the hypnotherapy process, highlighting the improvements in your quality of sleep.

Here is the sleep journal that I give to all my clients so that you can benefit from it too. There are two charts: one to complete when you wake up in the morning about how you’ve slept that night and the other one is to complete at the end of the day to get an idea of your behaviours during the day that might be affecting your sleep.

The charts cover 7 days so if you want to record your sleep and day routines beyond that, I suggest you print off multiple copies. After you’ve completed the week, have a look back over what you’ve recorded. Can you see any patterns? Do any of the results surprise you? Are you getting more sleep than you thought? Looking back at the results can be very illuminating. Having your assumptions about sleep either confirmed or disproved is a key part of enabling you to think differently generally about sleep.


  • Franklin, J. (1981) The measurement of sleep onset latency in insomnia. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 19(6): 547-549
  • Stepanski, E., Zoric, F., Roehrs, T., Young, D., & Roth, T. (1988) Daytime alertness in patients with chronic insomnia compared with asymptomatic control patients. Sleep. 11(1): 54-60
  • Johns, M.W., Gay, T.J.A., Goodyear, M.D.E., & Masterton, J.P. (1971) Sleep habits of healthy young adults: use of a sleep questionnaire. Brit. J. prev. soc. Med. 25: 236-241

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