It's Time to Assess Your Sleep Hygiene

This month, we're determined to help you catch more z's. We've partnered with Equinox to build a sleep challenge guaranteed to help you feel more well rested by October's end. Each week, we'll tackle one science-backed strategy to help you work toward getting more quality sleep. To kick things off, learn how logging your current sleep habits might be the key to turning them around.

When I enter the office of Ken Laing, the personal trainer who will help guide me through Equinox's brand-new sleep coaching program over the next 12 weeks, I am—predictably—exhausted. Three mugs of hastily chugged coffee can't undo the fitful night of slumber I endured just hours before, but on the bright side, the bags under my eyes emphasize just how qualified a candidate I am for a sleep hygiene makeover.

As I've worked to become intimately familiar with my own well-being over the past few years, I've discovered that consistent, quality sleep is the glue that holds me together. This isn't just personal conjecture, but science: Research tells us that sleep impacts everything from our mood and digestion to our hormonal balance. A lack of sleep doesn't just make us cranky or foggy: It can exacerbate inflammation, suppress immune function, and even shave down our life expectancy.

The cruciality of getting quality shut-eye isn't exactly news to me, but I'm exhibit A of it being easier said than done. I'm genetically predisposed to insomnia (thanks, Mom!), have trouble sleeping past 7 a.m. even on weekends, and, like many of my peers, tend to fall asleep with my phone in hand even when I know it's making matters worse. When I first learned about Equinox's sleep training program at the beginning of the summer, the highly personalized, science-based approach deeply appealed to me. But it was also very much a Hail Mary pass.

Over the next three months, Laing and I would work to subtly shift the sleep habits that were standing in my way. Some of them, like my tendency to check my inbox at 11:30 p.m., were fairly obvious, while others required a little digging. But the first step to all of this—the very first thing that my trainer asked of me during that first meeting—was logging my existing sleep habits over the course of one week.

At the time, it seemed almost like busywork. I knew what my issues were, so why didn't we skip ahead to the part where we address my inability to put down my phone and I learn to sleep happily ever after? You can probably guess how this goes: After a week of painstakingly writing down my sleep and wake times and rating my mood each morning, among other things, I began to discover some of the subtler elements at play—which we then were able to work through in our following sessions, until suddenly, I was sleeping through the night, no problem.

Keep reading to learn how to keep a sleep log—and why it could be the key to catching more z's every single night.