Increasingly, there is a need in both research and clinical practice to document and quantify sleep and waking behaviors in a comprehensive manner. The Pittsburgh Sleep Diary (PghSD) is an instrument with separate components to be completed at bedtime and waketime. Bedtime components relate to the events of the day preceding the sleep, waketime components to the sleep period just completed. Two-week PghSD data is presented from 234 different subjects, comprising 96 healthy young middle-aged controls, 37 older men, 44 older women, 29 young adult controls and 28 sleep disorders patients in order to demonstrate the usefulness, validity and reliability of various measures from the instrument. Comparisons are made with polysomnographic and actigraphic sleep measures, as well as personality and circadian type questionnaires. The instrument was shown to have sensitivity in detecting differences due to weekends, age, gender, personality and circadian type, and validity in agreeing with actigraphic estimates of sleep timing and quality. Over a 12-31 month delay, PghSD measures of both sleep timing and sleep quality showed correlations between 0.56 and 0.81 (n = 39, P < 0.001).