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Creating and maintaining a sleep diary

  • 1-5 Years
  • 5-11 Years
  • 11-19 Years
  • SEND
  • Sleep
diary with alarm clock and sleeping clouds

Sleep diaries are a daily record of sleep related information. Sleep diaries can also be known as sleep logs or sleep journals. They are a useful tool that can help you spot some areas to improve in your child's sleep routine. Sleep diaries can be used at all ages.

You do not have to keep a sleep diary unless your child is having issues with their sleep.

The goal of a sleep diary

Sleep diaries can be used to help you understand what is impacting your child's sleep and improve their sleep routine. They can also be used to find triggers or causes for common sleep issues such as sleepwalking, nightmares and night terrors. 

The best kind of sleep diary is one that your child uses regularly. Sleep diaries can help you discover various things about your child's sleep such as: 

    • how much sleep your child is getting
    • if certain foods or drinks are affecting your child's sleep
    • how often your child's sleep is disrupted
    • how often your child exercises and if it affects their sleep
    • what events or activities are making your child sleep better or worse

How to use a sleep diary

There is no specific way for you to use a sleep diary with your child, however typically a sleep diary should not take longer than 5 minutes to finish. 

There are lots of different ways keep a sleep diary. You can use a print-out template provided or make your child a sleep diary from scratch

You can add the sleep diary to be part of your child's bedtime routine. For example, after a shower or a bath you can sit down with your child and calmly complete the sleep diary. 

child leaning against teddy bear reading

Making your own sleep diary

There is not a perfect way to make a sleep diary. The sleep diary needs to meet the needs of your child and your family. You may add or remove sections depending on why you are using the sleep diary. The best kind of sleep diary is one that is used regularly.

If you are planning to make completing the sleep diary part of your child's bedtime routine, you can add some fun activities like colouring. 

Sleep diary sections

When making a sleep diary from scratch you can make sections for specific needs or concerns you have with your child's sleep. 

You can create sections on:

Naps - If relevant, you can ask questions like did they have any naps? How long were the naps? When did they fall asleep and wake up from their nap?

Sleep - Ask questions about what time they went to bed? What time did they fall asleep? How long did they sleep for? Did they wake up during the night? 

Food and drink - You can ask questions like did they have caffeine during the day? How much caffeine did they have and what time did they have caffeine? What foods did they have during the day? Were there any new foods or drinks? 

Exercise - Exercise can impact the quality of sleep. Ask questions like did they exercise today? How much exercise did they get? What time did they exercise?

Emotions and feelings - Emotions and feelings can impact how well your child is sleeping. Ask how they have felt through the day? Is there anything on their mind at the moment? Is anything worrying them?

Fun activities

The sleep diaries can be as fun or serious as you want. You may find your child will be more interested if they have a fun activity to do whilst filling out the sleep diary. 

Some examples of fun activities: 

Draw circles and let your child draw the expression to match how they felt about their sleep.

Draw clock faces and let your child draw the arms to show what time they fell asleep.

Draw some moons and stars for your child to colour in. Let them pick the colours and what emotion they represent such as red for anger, blue for sad or green for disgust. You can use this to let them show how they felt about their day or how they slept. They can also used more than 1 colour if they had lots of emotions that day.


Need more specific support for your child?

If your child needs more help or has additional needs, you can visit our specific section for extra support.

Sleep for additional needs

Last reviewed: 1 November, 2023


Who can help

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s sleep, a health professional in our team will be able to offer advice and support.

You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation.

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays).

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