Using the Sleep Diary to Assess the Morning Routine

This week we are using the sleep diary to assess the morning routine to improve our quality of sleep as per this quarter’s self-improvement challenge.

Why the Morning Routine Matters

What time you wake up and get out of bed sets your biological clock, which in turn sets the circadian rhythm for your body. This will later tell you when to go to sleep. So it’s important that you are properly setting this internal clock for yourself.

As a general rule, the recommendation is that you don’t deviate more than an hour for your daily wake time. Some of us, especially those of us diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, can’t afford to have the luxury of this much deviance in our schedule. Doing so could potentially trigger a mood episode.

This is why it’s important to keep track of sleep times and mood.

Examine the Morning Routine

Here’s what my basic morning routine template looks like:

You can get a free copy of this Open Office template here.

Assess the Morning Routine

So just like we had with assessing the bedtime routine, we need to compare the checklist with the sleep diary and ask ourselves some questions.

  1. Are you following this checklist?
    1. If not, change the checklist to reflect what you actually doing.
    2. If you’re just starting out, write down what you’re actually doing.
  2. Are there any points in this list where you have difficulties?
    1. What makes it difficult?
    2. What would make it easier?
  3. Are there things that need to be removed from this list?
  4. Are there things that need to be added to this list?

Make Adjustments

Make changes according to your scheduling needs and what works for you. Ideally, you should be getting up the same time every day no matter what in order to set your biological clock correctly.

Special Consideration

Most people don’t stop to consider sensory processing needs in terms of waking up. This applies even to neurotypical people, believe it or not.

Waking up from sleep involves a process of integrating our senses that many of us take for granted. If you are someone that takes a little bit longer, even without a processing disorder, you could be misinterpreting that as a lack of sleep instead.

If this is the case, one thing you could try doing in the mornings is some grounding techniques that involve introducing sensory inputs at a gradual pace that encourages a feeling of wakefulness.

Review Regularly

Once you have a system that works for you, review and assess the routine seasonally to ensure that it continues to operate smoothly for you. Until then, check in with yourself frequently until you feel you have it sorted out.

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