Be honest: when was the last time you had a full, uninterrupted 7 or 8 hours of sleep?

We get it. It’s not your fault. As you age, it gets harder and harder to sleep through the night. And the sleep you do manage to eke out has fewer numbers of deep sleep cycles, making you more tired during the day. Yet, sleep is vital for cognitive health.

So what’s to be done? Your first step is to keep a sleep diary. It may seem silly and tedious, but it’s also extremely useful. It can help both you and your healthcare provider confront the truth of your sleep habits.

Leave a notebook and pen on your bedside table. Answer the following 8 questions every day for a week, be as honest as possible.

  1. What time did you go to sleep and wake up?

  2. How long did you sleep and how well?

  3. Did you wake up during the night? When? For how long?

  4. Number of cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverages prior? When were they consumed?

  5. Which rich foods did you eat and when?

  6. Emotion during the day? Stress level?

  7. Which drugs or medications did you take and when?

  8. What exercise did you do during the day? When?

After a week, review your diary and note the patterns. The simple act of keeping this diary is often the kick in the pants some people need to change sleep habits for the better.