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Health Information

Diagnosis of Insomnia

Before treating insomnia , your doctor should determine its cause. To do this, he will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be asked questions about your:

  • Mood
  • Physical or mental symptoms or problems
  • Daily activities
  • Work pattern or history
  • Sleep patterns
  • Snoring
  • Psychiatric and medical history
  • Medication use
  • Travel patterns
  • Eating habits
  • Recreational substance use (such as alcohol , tobacco , other drugs )

Your doctor will ask whether you have problems initiating sleep, staying asleep, waking up early, or feeling tired despite seeming to sleep for a normal amount of time. To make a diagnosis of insomnia, your doctor will ask if you have:

  • Excessive fatigue or daytime sleepiness
  • Impairment of attention, concentration, or memory
  • Impairment in social, occupational, or academic performance
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Diminished motivation, energy, or initiative
  • Occurrence of frequent errors or accidents at work or while driving
  • Presence of tension headaches or gastrointestinal distress from lack of sleep
  • Preoccupation with sleep

You may also be asked to fill out a sleep diary, which is a record of your sleep patterns. Your doctor may want to speak with your significant other concerning the quantity and quality of your sleep. Other specialized tests may be ordered depending on what your doctor suspects may be the cause of your insomnia.

In some instance where the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor may order a polysomnogram (sleep study), where your sleep is analyzed during a 1 or 2 night stay in a sleep lab.

Revision Information

  • Insomnia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated July 9, 2012. Accessed August 13, 2012.

  • Insomnia: quick answers to medical diagnosis and therapy. Access Medicine website. Available at: http://accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=3267380 . Accessed November 8, 2009.

  • National Center on Sleep Disorders Research website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/ncsdr/index.htm .

  • National Sleep Foundation. Sleep talk with your doctor. Available at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/alert/how-talk-your-doctor-about-your-sleep . Accessed February 11, 2009.

  • Your guide to healthy sleep. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy%5Fsleep.pdf . Accessed February 11, 2009.