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Think you’re not getting enough sleep? You’re not alone. Two out of every 10 Americans sleep less than six hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. That’s about two hours less than is recommended for good health and peak functioning during the day. Too little sleep may also be a public safety hazard: More than half of adult Americans admit they have driven while drowsy at least once in the past year, and nearly one-third of drivers say they have fallen asleep while driving a vehicle. Still, only about one-third of people who think they have sleep problems have discussed the problem with their doctor. One way to get that conversations started is to track your sleep habits by using a sleep journal.
“A good indicator of whether you’re getting enough sleep at night is how tired you feel during the day,” says Greg Belenky, M.D., director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University. “The most common cause of daytime sleepiness is not getting enough sleep at night. By keeping a journal, you can track not only your sleep time and other sleep habits, but your daytime fatigue to see if you need to make any changes. Because many people have different sleep patterns on the weekend than during the work week, it’s best to keep your sleep journal for at least seven days and ideally two full weeks to get a good sense of what your own sleep patterns are.”
To get started, download the iVillage sleep tracker. Keep in mind when determining your daytime fatigue rating, on a 1-5 scale, 1 means you’re fighting to stay awake and you can’t concentrate while a 5 means you’re feeling very alert, energetic.